Sadia Gilani: of whimsical art and equal rights.

Sadia is fun, quirky, whimsical, edgy (she’s got blue hair too!) and a die-hard feminist. But entrepreneurship wasn’t an aim- it just happened.

Currently in her last year at NCA, she rediscovered her love of painting and illustrating in 2012 when she took a break from studies. She was in Lahore, but a dear friend from Karachi informed about T2F’s Pop Up Pyaar shop– which was all about art based on themes of love and affection. Sadia was assured that her illustrations would definitely do well there and so, she switched on her dusty old printer, cranked up Microsoft Paint and the rest, as they say, is history.


She channeled her love for painting and the desire to see beautiful illustrations on product and coined the name Prisms and Paintbrushes for her business- it sounded “cool and unique” back then. The business strategy was pretty straightforward- would she want to own this design? Does this make her giggle or smile or fangirl over?  If the answer was yes, then that design was approved. If it was a meh, then it was back to the drawing board.




Her business mantra still is passion, creativity and originality! She started off with whimsical illustrations on phone cases and cards and over the years has expanded her product port-folio tremendously with notebooks, cases, laptop covers, key chains, posters etc





Her key achievements to date are as follows:

  • Jan 2013 First display of work at T2F. Sold almost all the work put up.
  • Dec 2013 Participated in the Crafter’s Expo with a proper range of products. Got a lot of appreciation! Loads of great feedback.
  • 2014 started participating in local farmer’s markets! Amazing feedback.
  • 2015 participated in Daachi, a 3 day craft’s exhibition. Sold out.
  • 2015 Started stocking items at The Last Word!
  • Displayed items in Islamabad, at a farmer’s market.
  • 2016 displayed items in Dubai and Norway!
  • Stocked items with Polly and Other Stories, from Islamabad.
  • 2016 July, started Absolutely Booked, got almost 200 orders! Off to an amazing start.
  • 2017? Plans on expanding and growing!
  • Will be at Daachi on the 22nd of April!

She recently started a bi-monthly bookish subscription box service, Absolutely Booked. For the name, the inspiration was a Pakistani baker who’s called her business ‘Absolutely Caked’. Plus, who doesn’t love a good pun? It fit nicely and that was that.


Every alternate month we send subscribers a recently released young adult book, along with 3-7 bookish items.’Bookish items’ can be anything- our past boxes contained fun items, like wands, bookish jewellery, bookish candles, items from funko pop and more!

Every month we have a different theme. Our debut box was all about Harry Potter, and it was a huge hit!

The theme for the March box is Absolute Bibliophilic Bliss- Volume 1 and orders are open!

Sadia is very proud and grateful for taking this path to entrepreneurship:

I can now be as independent as I want, and I do not have to fear that I’ll be cut off. I’ve funded myself and taken trips abroad, I am on the path of growth and becoming self-sufficient. I’ve fought for every win, and in the first three years of P&P I had to fight for every single exhibition. But I persisted and I am stronger for it.

This is Pakistan, and the social pressures here are massive. Especially when you’re starting out as a young woman. Her own parents did not take her work seriously, and sometimes still don’t. But she’s now mastered to ignore the negative and focus instead on every time she’s at a pop up shop and her work makes yet another person smile.


Plus, she has a solid support system: Her biggest one being her youngest khala (mom’s sister), who is less of an aunt and more of a best friend. Sadia always gets second opinions from her younger sister who is brutally honest, hilarious and kind and has helped her every single exhibition she’s done in Lahore. Her Dubai-based best friend, Saleeha, completes the group and distance has only flowered their friendship.


She’s got some serious advice for women this Women’s day:

1. Always be passionate about what you’re doing. About  your products, about your work. If you won’t believe in it, why would you expect anyone else to?
If you’re not excited about a business idea, you should probably take that as a sign and drop it like it’s hot.

2. Listen to your gut, but definitely ask for second opinions from close friends and even strangers.

3. Always be original and never copy. You will always get caught. Always. And no one likes a cheater. There have been so many big ‘designers’ in the past few years, both for graphic/art and fashion. And they have copied and copied and live on that wave. But not only is the public becoming more aware, the people who they are copying from are also getting angry. If you want to be taken seriously, be original.




For Prisms and Paintbrushes, orders are currently closed, but will resume in April! 22nd April is her first exhibition of the year, at Daachi! Online orders will resume from the 30th of April.

The business offers delivery worldwide. Local payments are through cash on delivery or direct bank deposit. International payments are usually through PayPal.



Daachi event:
Kudos for all that you’ve achieved so far and good luck at Daatchi!


About the author

Naima Gilani

Optimist-Marketer-Lahori heart-Karachi-ite soul