A Sweet Tribute to Pakistan’s Rich Cultural Heritage

Olive Creatives aims to reconnect people with old traditions and foster a sense of pride in their customs. 

Despite the challenging business environment and economic volatility in Pakistan, there are some young entrepreneurs who, despite the odds, are unfazed and determined to prove themselves to the world that they can do anything the set their minds to, and do their country proud, both locally and internationally. One such entrepreneur is Rabia Abdul Razzaq, who has skilfully leveraged the vibrant and rich heritage of Lahore to create her own unique line of sweets and gift boxes under the brand Olive Creatives, which offers a unique fusion of sweets with innovative packaging adorned with exquisite local art, aiming to celebrate culture and heritage of Pakistan, as well as to revive traditional values associated with celebrations. “Olive Creatives’ offers artisanal sweets, which are inspired by traditional recipes and flavours, using high-quality ingredients to create delicious treats that evokes nostalgia and cultural richness,” she says.

With an undergraduate degree from Punjab University and a Masters in Design from Syracuse University, Razzaq embarked on her professional journey as a visual designer within the fashion industry, where she spent more than four years. However, driven by a desire to broaden her horizons beyond the confines of brands and fashion, she further refined her aesthetic sensibilities and made a transition into the realm of digital design, focusing on product and user-experience.

Rabia Abdul Razzaq

As someone who harboured a deep-seated passion for inclusivity and community empowerment, Razzaq spearheaded various volunteer programmes and workshops for university students in Lahore and New York, on user-experience to ensure accessibility for all, especially the marginalised segments of society and later for persons with disabilities. She also developed an innovative clothing customisation application, allowing people to tailor their attire to their specific needs. “It was a tool that enabled people who used power wheelchairs for most part of their day, to gather their measurements and connect with tailors digitally to have their clothes custom made,” adds Razzaq, who at the same time adeptly managed her responsibilities at a medical technology firm in Chicago – her full-time job.

 “These artisans have been enriching the cultural fabric of Lahore for years and its people – who love storytelling and traditional gifting customs. It was time the world recognised their hard work.”

According to Razzaq, the inspiration behind the launch Olive Creatives were the childhood and wedding stories of her mother and grandmother and of the traditional recipes that were shared among households during important events. “It was so essential back in those days to present elaborate gifts to friends and family, on special occasions and mithai was a quintessential part of it. But at the same time, I observed that in recent times, there has been a shift towards gifting imported products, which of course not everyone can afford.”

Recognising this gap, she envisioned Olive Creatives, to breathe new life into those old traditions and reconnect people with them – while prioritising craftsmanship and sustainability (eco-friendly packaging).

The name – Olive.Creatives – was inspired from her mother’s favourite morning meal that gives the much-needed energy boost. “All recipes and products have been created by my mother, who is actively and diligently involved in this project.”

Moreover, Razzaq is also happy of the fact that this project (like all her previous ones) also gives her an opportunity to help the underprivileged local artisan to exhibit their exceptional skills and earn recognition. One such talented artist is Muhammad Hussain, who makes intricate hand-painted designs on traditional clay plates (toothi) and cane baskets. Working with Olive Creatives has ensured a sustainable source of income for him and given him a wider audience to showcase his talents as his work was shipped to Belgium and London – a testament to the global reach of his craftsmanship. “These artisans have been enriching the cultural fabric of Lahore for years and its people – who love storytelling and traditional gifting customs. It was time the world recognised their hard work,” opines Razzaq.

Razia Bibi, who oversees and supervises a local shelter home in Multan, is also engaged now with Olive.Creatives. Under her guidance, women at the shelter home craft traditional, handcrafted nut boxes for Olive.Creatives’ culinary offerings. These meticulously crafted boxes are showcased locally and internationally and symbolise the impact of meaningful partnerships in uplifting communities, empowering local women and sustaining livelihoods.

Muhammad Hussain, a talented artist, who makes intricate hand-painted designs on traditional clay plates (toothi) and cane baskets. 

The mother-daughter duo market their brand primarily through family and friends, social media, clients’ recommendations or word of mouth. Though according to Razzaq the target audience ranges from age 18-55, she adds Olive.Creatives is for anyone looking for unique gift ideas. “We love celebrations, and we plan to deliver worldwide going forward. We are also looking to expand from sweets to sustainable packaging for keepsakes, as well as launching home goods very soon.”

Razzaq’s remarkable journey from a design enthusiast to establishing Olive.Creatives demonstrates the essence of entrepreneurial growth. Through her business, she has skillfully combined tradition, innovation, and community service, leaving an enduring imprint on Lahore’s cultural panorama and that of New York where she currently resides. As she persists in motivating and uplifting the people around her, her odyssey and its outcome exemplify the transformative power of creativity and collaboration to build a more inclusive and vibrant society.  

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