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Celebrities Interviews

Myra Qureshi – Because Natural Beauty Shines Best

“Myra Qureshi is co-founder and CEO of Conatural, Pakistan’s first certified organic company that manufactures, retails, and exports organic skin and hair care products. In 2014, Myra capitalised on her 13 years of management consultancy expertise by launching Conatural, a pioneer in the Pakistani market for certified organic skin and hair care, and took the company international.”

What was the idea behind the label “Conatural?”

Our market is flooded with adulterated and toxic creams and cosmetics and the average consumers really don’t know what they are putting on their skin. Our mission was to create organic, unadulterated, pure, and wild-crafted beauty products, so we decided to call the company ‘Conatural’ meaning a “company that is natural.”

What motivated you to quit your job in the corporate sector and opt for an entrepreneurial venture?

I had worked in investment banking abroad for over a decade. When I completed my Exec-MBA and returned to Pakistan, I knew I wanted to start a business that took entrepreneurial principles to organise, mobilise, and manage a for-profit business that has a social mission at its core. I studied the local market, and realised that organic products were something that I was really passionate about and that there was a market for them as well.

Which product is highest selling and why?

We have different products for different age groups that are bestsellers. Our hair range does very well though across gender and age groups.

Which segment of society makes up for most of your customers?

As we are using certified organic ingredients, the cost to source and manufacture is high. So we can never be a mass product in Pakistan. As such, our customers are usually those who seek and can afford genuine organic products.

What does your average day look like?

I wake up and check e-mails, and then spend quality time with my one-year old baby, followed by yoga. I usually leave for the factory at 9:30am and have breakfast in the car, as I am always pressed for time!  En route, I catch up on the news, reading, and responding to e-mails.

At the factory, we always have our R&D meeting first (when our brains are fresh!), followed by procurement and production planning meetings. I then meet with the warehouse team and leave for the head office around 1:30pm. The first hour is usually spent doing finance-related activities, followed by marketing and sales updates. I try and spend at last 2-3 hours on business development, laying the foundation for future growth and opportunities. I spend a lot of time directly engaging with my teams on their tasks and usually leave the office around 7:30pm.  After an early dinner, I put my baby to sleep and then usually make a few work calls, after which I spend time with family, zone out with Netflix, or go see friends.

What is your brand ideology?

Conatural is a pioneer in Pakistan in the use of ingredients that are certified organic (where possible), natural, wild-crafted, and pure therapeutic grade essential oils. Our product ideology is a mix of exotic essences, Ayurveda, and modern aromatherapy. Our products are 100% cruelty-free and we never test our products on animals. In terms of our brand ideology, you could say it is to promote a lifestyle that is wholly organic and in tune with Nature.

What are the biggest challenges of operating in this industry?

The challenges of establishing and running a holistically organic company in Pakistan are numerous. The big ones, though, are lack of education on ‘safe’ beauty products, zero government regulation within the personal care sector and pretty much no protection of intellectual property rights, and difficulty sourcing organic ingredients.

We have to spend a tremendous amount of time, resources and effort in educating consumers on how to read labels, make better and informed choices, and know what certified organic actually means. Few people understand what ‘certified organic’ actually means; many believe that ‘organic’ is synonymous to ‘natural’. However, just because something was grown in your garden doesn’t make it organic. ‘Certified organic’ is a lengthy, expensive, and rigorous process; from thoroughly scrutinising each ingredient to be non-GMO and checking the water that is used to irrigate the land, to inspecting the soil, and quality-testing the raw material itself to ensure its 100% natural.

When it comes to regulation, there are no safeguards or checks in place to ensure quality control. Some companies are guilty of producing products that cause can cause irreparable damage to the skin and many creams sold in the market are a dangerous cocktail of compounds like mercury, steroids, hydroquinone, and tretinoin, the long term use of which can lead to lethal health concerns – all under the labels of ‘natural’, ‘herbal’ or ‘organic’. Meanwhile, companies like ours spend years researching and developing products, only for copycats to come in and literally copy the packaging and product design. In most cases, they are able to copy the outer packaging very well, but not actual cream or lotion; but when consumers get the fake product, our brand gets a bad name.

Then, as I mentioned, sourcing certified organic ingredients locally is very tough. Our food chain is massively compromised due to the amount of chemical pesticides and fertilisers used, so it not economically viable for growers to stop growing anything on their soil for years so that they can even be close to fit the criteria of organic to get certified. I spend at least two months of the year travelling the world to source certified organic ingredients.

What are your future plans with regard to this venture?

We are looking to expand into Europe.

In your product line which product is close to your heart and why?

The Skin Renew: Organic Age Defying Cream is pretty close to my heart because it took us nearly two years to research and develop it. We wanted to make an organic cream that promised results within two weeks of usage. It was a tough one, but in the end I’m super proud that we got there. This cream is fabulous for anti-ageing!

Conatural recently made its debut in UK. How was the experience and response?

The response was fantastic. We made our debut at the prestigious Asiana Bridal Show held at the Grosvenor House in London. Not only did we generate sales but to represent Pakistan at such an important event internationally was a humbling experience.

Why UK instead of Dubai, which has a larger South Asian population?

We launched the brand in the UAE in October. We stock with souq.ae which covers the entire UAE and most countries in the GCC.

Entertainment Movies

Maan Jao Na – Film Review

With romance, comedy, lots of color, drama, and some really good music, Maan Jao Na has all the ingredients that make for a good, light-hearted entertainer.

The plot of the film revolves around a strong-willed young woman named Rania (played by Elnaz Nourozi), who’s an only child raised in urban Karachi. Rania’s immediate family includes her father and a paternal aunt to whom she’s quite attached. This aunt is also a survivor of domestic violence, something that adds to her stance against the institution of marriage.

From the very beginning, we see Rania trying to reason with her friends and family about the patriarchal expectations surrounding marriage and how she doesn’t want to be tied down. But throughout the course of Maan Jao Naa, we see Rania’s loved ones manipulating her into leaving her ideals, and well, eventually getting married. She caves, as most women do, and that’s all the entire film is about.

While Rania’s rebellion was heart-warming to watch, it was an ending we knew was coming but was certainly hoping it didn’t.

Ayaz Samoo was great in his acting, as always. He plays a young man named Asim who is a common friend of Rania and Faris’ (the male lead played by Adeel Chaudhry). Samoo’s character and his love interest Sara (played by HajraYamin) did a really good job with their roles. Emoting well on screenwith variations in their expressions and dialogue delivery is a tough challenge but the duo does it effortlessly.

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about their co-stars, most of whom failed to make much of a statement despite playing the leads.

Shuja Haider did the music for Maan Jao Naa and once again, managed to remind us that there’s no dearth of talent in Pakistan. The choreography and editing of the song sequences came out all on point. It kept usfascinated to the big screen.

The cinematography and set design was done well too. Be it Karachi or Kot Diji Fort in Khairpur, it was all really well-executed. Maan Jao Naa is visually pleasing and demands very little of your mental energy.

Verdict: If you want a relaxed evening with friends and family, we’d recommend you head over to this movie this weekend.

Features

Top 5 Best Mascaras available locally

Mascara is a must-have makeup product for women. Mascara always gives a glamorous look to the eyes. It opens them up, makes them look bigger and dramatic. Eye makeup is not even complete without a mascara. It is used to add volume, shine and colour to your lashes. There are so many famous brands providing mascaras. Here is the list of Top 5 best mascaras in Pakistan.

1. CoverGirl Lashblast Luxe Mascara:

Cover Girl lashblast luxe mascara gives your eye lashes a cluster look. Its glossy effect gives your lashes a shimmery effect.

Pros:

Lengthen and Volumize Lashes.
Easy removal.
No smudging or Flaking.
Long Lasting For 12 Hours.
Shimmery look.
Available in four shades.

Cons:

Original Lashblast Luxe Is Better than this product.
Price: Rs 899.

2.  Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara:

Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara is famous due to its fine and thin texture. It is light-weighted and gives an incredible look to eye lashes.

Pros:

Gives Instant Longer and Lusher Look.
Long Lasting For 12 Hours.
No Smudging or Flaking.

Cons:

No Volumize Lashes.
Price: Rs 499.

3. Maybelline Volum’ Express the Colossal Mascara:

Maybelline Le Colossal Volum’ Express Mascara gives a polished look to your lashes. This mascara makes your eyes look covered and fluttery. It’s thick and dramatic look make the eyes fuller.

Pros:

Gives 9X Volume.
Light-weight.
Extra Black Color.
Dramatic Pigmentation.

Cons:

Wet.
Thick Texture.
Price: Rs 500.

4. L’Oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara:

L’Oreal Volume Million Lashes mascara is the most popular L’Oreal product. This mascara gives your lashes a more dramatic look. It is very safe for eyes and will not give any side effects to your lashes.

Pros:

Volumize and Curl Lashes.
No Flaking or smudging.
Creamy Formula.
Easily Removable.

Cons:

Doesn’t Provide Much Length.
Strong Chemical Smell.
Not Waterproof.
Price: Rs 1200.

5. Diorshow New Look Mascara:

Diorshow New Look Mascara is the most demanding mascara in Pakistan. It always crafts the eye lashes to look attractive and glamorous. It makes the lashes fuller and thick.

Pros:

Gives Infinite Volume.
Multiplying Effect.
Doesn’t Clump.
Gives Volume to Every Single Lash.
Thin Texture.
Light-weight.
Gives Fuller Lash Look.

Cons:

Hard To Remove.
Price: Rs 1800.

Celeb Insight Celebrities

Former Super Model Aminah Haque’s Recent Picture Shocked fans

Aminah Haque is one of those super models whose contributions in the industry of fashion and entertainment definitely played a very important part to make it what it is today.

Aminah was one of the most popular faces of Pakistan gracing the ramps and covers of various national and international shows and magazines. Even today if you think of the models who have ruled the fashion industry of Pakistan, her name would definitely be in top three. We are sure that everyone from 90s remember dancing to Awaz’s Mr Fraudiye and loving Aminah.

After a few years she created her magic yet again along with Faakhir in Mahi Ve, remember?

Aminah has been an inspiration for most of the girls who wanted to enter the fashion industry. She is definitely a role model for most of us out there. Amna decided to quit modelling after tying the knot with the designer Ammar Belal.

Now, a recent click of Aminah has been circulating on the internet in which she looks very different from what people remember her, leaving the social media in a shock.

Here’s how people are commenting on her photo.

We don’t really get why it is so hard for people to understand that people age and they don’t actually look the same forever. And why such negativity? Your mothers, sisters, and daughters are definitely not Katrina Kaif lookalikes then why are people so harsh on our celebs, knowing the fact that have quit the industry as well!

Entertainment Movies

Allahyar and the Legend of Markhor

Allahyar and The Legend of Markhor, directed by Uzair Zaheer Khan, comes as the latest offering from our nascent film industry. It revolves around the young character Allahyar (voiced by Anum Zaidi) who finds himself escaping the hunter Manu (Ali Noor) and helping a Markhor named Mehru (Natasha Humera Ejaz) reach home.

Kudos to the team for setting a new bar in terms of animation standards in Pakistan. And subsequently, Allahyar challenges other film-makers to step up, in terms of visual quality. Yes, it is not Pixar or Disney or Laika, but the film is a big leap forward and the next logical and organic progression for the animation industry.

However, when it comes to storytelling, it needs as much saving as the Markhor. The first and the biggest problem troubling Allahyar is the use of Urdu words that are not commonplace. It uses the kind of language children are not used to hearing. They sound poetic but forget who the film is targeted at.

For Allahyar to be the children’s new hero, he needs to be vulnerable, yet stand in the face of fear and take charge. For that, he falls just short of being a memorable character, and his supporting characters outshine him easily.

But the film does succeed in delivering important messages and some scenes do stand out. Yet, overall, one doesn’t feel emotionally connected to Allahyar. He, who is supposed to be the protector and leader in the story, comes off as passive and in need of protection himself. His journey is intriguing but marred by the plot loopholes in that it borrows from the best but somehow manages to dilute it.

Another issue Pakistani film-makers have yet to work around is obvious product placement, which not only wastes screen time but also negatively affects the product and film experience. Allahyar makes the same mistake.

Nevertheless, the film, despite its shortcomings, is fun to watch (for children, of course) mainly due to the animation quality and excellent voice-over, especially by Noor and Azfar Jafri as the chakkor, Hero. It is often hilarious but one does leave the cinema hall underwhelmed; sort of like when you go to an amusement park and not ride the Ferris wheel. Allahyar gets a few things right but wasn’t exploited to its full potential.

Entertainment Events

Unveiling of FIFA World Cup Trophy

In an exclusive event for media, Coca-Cola unveiled the FIFA World Cup Trophy. The event was attended by Pakistan National men’s and women’s football teams and the who’s who of Pakistan’s fashion, sports and entertainment fraternity. 

The PR was handled by Asiatic Public Relations.