I still remember when I got my first leather jacket from a leather wholesale market in Karachi (more on my hometown in a while). Visiting the picturesque and cold Naran & Kaghan valley in the northern region of Pakistan, with my mates at the corporate entity we used to work for, the rich feel and comfort of leather plus the compliments I received really amazed me.
But hey, perhaps it started even before that in 2008, when I landed into my first corporate assignment after completing university and immediately identified that working in corporations isn’t my thing. With no money to invest however and Dad getting old, I decided to slug it out for a while and never really found my way out for a long time until I found support in the shape of my younger brother Moiz, who had moved out to Germany to pursue a career in technology, but like me, wanted to do something independent. (Mind you, all the while I was saving some money with every payslip to give my future venture a chance when the time and idea is right)
Welcome to the Alaskan Leather Company. The story of how two like minded brothers started out on a journey to make stylish, practical and durable leather goods.
My corporate engagements have been a great source of learning and allowed me, company of some great people but something was amiss since the start. Constant 9 to 5 routine is laborious, it gets to you sooner or later (plus after a while, you start to hate people barking orders at you and that sick feeling of running outta time to meet a deadline. The lure of a good monthly payslip with perks couldn’t suppress the frustrations and it had gone on for too long).
In the meanwhile, my leather jacket went several places with me and I still couldn’t have enough of it. In addition I noticed, leather bags at work and outdoors too, stood a class apart from stuff made with other material. There is no comparison. The list is complete if you add wallets and other accessories to them. However, I never thought I would be into leather one day.
Hanging out with my bad guys, bored of our daily routines and ageing fast, we decided it`s time we start something of our own and this is where I came up with the idea of doing something with leather. Guess what, one of my buddies knew a super massive leather tannery owner who used to be a bigwig in the industry until sometime back. We sure got excited but then quickly felt soar about the whole thing once differences arose on a number of things in a few months time. The `Project` just fell apart (thing about getting too excited too early).
I would have given up on the idea, but it all turned around one autumn evening, as I shared my experience from past 6 months with my baby faced brother `Moiz` who was juggling between my zoom call and his coding assignment doing home office from Manheim (Germany).
here was an immediate `Why don’t we do this together?` and I said yeah sure…!!
What followed is a regular stream of late night zoom meetings, finalizing on everything from web platforms to the color of dust cover bag we use to wrap our leather love when delivering to customers. As I handled manufacturing (through one of the best, most experienced leather manufacturers in Karachi – more on this and the Alaskan connection in a while), delivery, book keeping, branding (I`m a marketing guy) etc. my younger brother (he`s a coding geek) managed everything related to web, internet, digital payments, social media etc. It`s been a crazy few years, time has really flown and we are proud that we are constantly adding to our inventory. (A big THANK YOU to our customers trust in us)
WE ARE A GROWING COMPANY, HAPPY WITH OUR PROGRESS.
Anyone who has started out on a brand journey would agree with us. Agreeing on a brand name is the most difficult part. You tend to find a thousand pros and cons with each name until it starts to get depressing (We are humans, we all get depressed sometimes, accept it). Why we chose to take an Alaskan shout out when we produce in Karachi is quite a story?
In our quest to search for brand components that best match our values and concept, we pondered a hundred ideas but every discussion ended in a quarrel (The history of disagreements between us two brothers goes back a long way to childhood from tryin` ensuring the other is denied a fair share of Nintendo to other things).
It was a Sunday morning, as I scrolled the internet, I came across an article on Ada Blackjack, a gritty native Alaskan woman who survived Wrangel Island on her own, a desolate arctic island for two years and dare I say this is what I wanted my brand to be. Something truly ORIGINAL. . Something that has not been infiltrated by materialism. A land of mountains, ice, flora and fauna unheard off.
Leather had always inspired us with its tough attitude and character. We wanted our name to be built on time tested values of struggle and perseverance reminiscent of a true Alaskan, rather than anything that is far from original. The mountain logo, #BornTough #AlaskanSpirit all followed quickly. (Sure, I had to convince Moiz on this Alaskan shout out a little bit but he got the feel of it eventually.)
Get your hands onto a quality branded leather jacket or briefcase in the West and chances are that it originated from Pakistan or India. Surprisingly, few brands reveal it. We are proud to let our customers know of our origins from Karachi, Pakistan.
Karachi is among the top ten biggest cities in the world. It`s Pakistan`s true metropolitan city (people from all other parts of the country come here to work), at the tip of the Arabian Sea, home to 22m souls (Yes 22m), not very far away from Mumbai and matches its Indian neighbor every bit in character and chaos as both cities have sprawling working class populations.
Leather tanneries and craftsmen started popping up in Karachi right after Pakistan was formed in 1947 gaining independence from British ruled sub continent (around 4m got killed on their way to Pakistan during migration). Karachi, being a port city was the hub of all industrial activity and leather artisans migrating from other parts of sub continent soon found capitalists who were ready to invest in their craft. With large rural centers based on agriculture and dairy in other parts of the country, a conducive supply chain of leather hides was created supporting the industry, elevating Pakistan among the top exporters of leather goods and hides. To this day, Karachi is ranked among top leather exporters in the world. Sialkot, another industrial center of Pakistan is world renowned for manufacturing footballs (and other sports goods) used in World Cups and global events. The industry provides employment to a good number of skilled individuals in both cities.
The Leather craftsman community of Karachi is close knitted and weaves magic, with knowledge and expertise passed on from one generation to another.
It`s been a lovely ride so far, full of the expected and unexpected. We`ve had our fair share of experiences to learn from, doing things from scratch. Going ahead with an expanding customer base, we feel the need to keep a constant focus on our processes and methods in order to achieve an ever enhancing level of quality.Mohsin & Moiz