In the Urdu language, the word kishmish literally translates to raisin. Yup, a raisin. As in a dried grape with that candied flavor you’re usually picking off your biryani. Our romance with Urdu coupled with the word’s quirkiness and its offbeat (and sweet) origin came the decision to name this venture, Kishmish.
What makes us giddy? All things DIY. Card-making, crafting, gift-giving. In childhood it was scrapbooking, which transformed into happy hostessing as we grew older. Pakistani truck art, Bollywood flicks, funny traditions that don’t make much sense, a strong dessert table (who doesn’t love a warm jalebi in all its sugary glory)? Oh, and making people laugh.
We’ve spent much of our 17 year friendship exchanging cards. To rejoice good days, reconcile bad ones, celebrate firsts, to express solitude and gratitude. Cards have said what we often couldn’t. This shared passion for gifting, among other things, helped us remain in touch through moving and transitioning into new careers. And it inspired this labor of love.
We took our identities and the nostalgic nuances of our roots to curate cards and gift items that speak to people like us, South Asian Millennials. Kishmish is a playful nod to the anecdotes and cultural references we grew up hearing, learning and loving.
Through the digital evolution and passing of eras, greeting cards are one of the few things that have somehow persisted. Probably because they hold an inherent message of compassion.
Diversity and inclusion are necessary in the spaces we grow and interact in now more than ever. Representation in mainstream culture shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be the norm.
It’s this principle that gave life to Kishmish. That, paired with the sad realization that cards targeted towards South Asians, particularly young Muslims was bleak. There was no comparable Eid card for the dope Christmas card at Paper Source (but now there is!). And if there was you had seen it. The quintessential quatrefoil design with a half crescent peeking through a tiny minaret in a lazy shade of green with copy that read, “Eid Mubarak” in Times New Roman. For a holiday celebrated twice a year by a faith of over 1 billion this was disenchanting.
We’re on a journey to make gifting relatable and frequent one kishmish-ism at a time. Hope you love what we make as much as we love making it.
-FATIMA & ZAREEN