Eman Shahab Bachani’s artisan shoes have soul

Eman Shahab Bachani of Meraki Design House.

Originally from Pakistan, Eman Shahab Bachani has always been inspired by the cultural crafts of her heritage, so in a bid to share them and offer the Canadian fashion scene something truly original, she set up Meraki Design House in 2015. Bachani, who came to Canada six years ago to study at the University of Toronto, wanted her brand to reinterpret Eastern designs for a Western audience. What this has translated into is an online boutique of ethnically inspired shoes and accessories that have developed a loyal following amongst Canadian fashion bloggers and shoppers.

Did you always want to work in fashion or was your foray into the industry spontaneous? 

I don’t think I work in fashion per se, because I don’t view my products as fashion items. Fashion items change with trends and seasons, whereas my products are born out of preserving cultural crafts and redesigning them for the modern woman. It was a bit spontaneous to get into it as deep as I have, but I always knew I wanted to have something of my own.

How did you come up with the idea for your designs?

I had people constantly asking me about my personal collection of handcrafted shoes. After quite a bit of research, I found that there was some untapped potential in the Canadian market for international artisan-made products. Lots of hard work later, the idea formulated into Meraki.

Has it been difficult to set up your business?

Just like any business, the first year was nothing but bumps and learning curves. However, I think I have learned so many things that I would have never ever learned working for someone else: from handling the e-commerce aspect to production to managing the finances (still tons of learning left here), but, most importantly, just getting through the hard parts. I think most people get so caught up in the difficulty of things that they barely look at the bigger picture; I’ve tried to never lose sight of it!


From Meraki Design House.

Why is working with artisans important to you?

With Meraki, we have always intended to have a two-fold effect: one, providing consumers the choices they won’t find at a mall and, two, in the process, creating demand for crafts and artisan-made products that [help] preserve these practices and create opportunities for work and growth within communities that specialize in such practices.

I feel these practices are crucial to the values and purpose of the brand, and luckily our customers also appreciate that each piece we create is made out of love and passion of a craft, as indicated by the word Meraki itself [a Greek word that means putting your soul, creativity and love into doing something].


What has been your biggest achievement so far?

I feel a bit more accomplished every time I come across someone who already knows about Meraki; it’s all about the small wins.


And where do you want to go from here? 

Even though there are new trends every day that draw on cultures of other countries, we are going to keep working on products that preserve the authenticity of the craft and ensure these products make their way to those who appreciate these pieces of wearable art.