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Insha S Qazi: A lady with multiple achievements

Post by on Sunday, August 7, 2022

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A civil engineer, a businesswoman, an author, Insha S Qazi never wanted to settle outside Kashmir after completing her studies in London in 2015.Believing that the valley had few employment opportunities, she was dedicated to create opportunities for herself and others in her homeland.

In 2016, Qazi set up a fashion design school, SSMD School of Fashion & Design, at Parihaspora, Pattan. It was the valley’s first design school.

Initially, she had to face a number of difficulties. But she didn’t lose hope and continued chasing her Fashion School dream.

The school did not just pick up, but in just a couple of years, its students started participating in prestigious fashion shows, running successful businesses, and making money.

“We have more females opting for these courses. There is no time for distraction. Responsibilities build you a better person,” she said.

Qazi said with the time the institution grew stronger and more and more students preferred to join there rather than going outside.

“We were affordable, and equipped the quality teachers from Symbiosis, Amity etc. and the international curriculum from Modart international, Paris customised with local techniques,” she said.

She said they guide students into their fashion, design businesses and careers.

“Keeping all this in mind, we run our school of design with passion and love for the arts.The future belongs to our students and it's our job to shape them into the future drivers of the industry, from design to business,” Qazi said.

“We nurture every student’s distinctive voice, teaching them how to challenge and define future of fashion through cutting-edge media approaches across all channels: broadcast, print, digital, interactive, experiential and experimental,” she said.

Currently, the school has a total enrolment of 100 students and provides employment to many teachers. The school offers skill-based courses like fashion designing, interior designing, digital marketing, hotel and hospitality management considering Kashmir a hub of tourism.

“We need to empower and encourage the youth to opt more for culinary art and hospitality courses because of its huge scope,” she said. 

Qazi said initially it was a taboo and misconceived but as time passed, the students started doing very well and took part in Amazon fashion week India.

“And SSMD was the only institution apart from NIFT Delhi and pearl academy, which was a great morale boost for us,” she added.

“We have tied up with NSDC and our students were selected in the international competition in Kazan, Russia. It’s not only women empowerment but one of the aspects of it. It is affordable education if you compare with rest of India,” she said. 

Qazi said the faculty for the SSMD comes from Amity, NIFT Delhi, Symbiosis Pune and LPU. We are recognized by UGC and AICTE and affiliated to Singhania University Rajasthan, she said.

While talking about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Qazi said of course pandemic has been difficult for every business especially education.

“However, it didn’t damperour spirits. We made learning even fun as teaching history of fashion was taught by live plays and costumes were made live,” she said.

Born in 1990, Qazi’s parents were from downtown Chattabal. However, they moved to Rajbagh when she was just one year old.

She did her engineering from SSM College of Engineering Parihaspora Pattan, in north Kashmir. “I studied civil engineering and in the final year, I realized i want to be anything except engineer. I realized that I would always get sponsors and was terrific with negotiations and branding,” she said.

After realizing that she was good at marketing and wanted to make her career in it, she went to Brunel University UK, where from she did her master's degree in Marketing Management.

“I learned a lot in terms of life, business and everything else in between. When you are far from the comforts of home, you not only realize the value of time but also money. I worked as an intern in a couple of organizations but my heart belonged to Kashmir and I knew there’s nowhere else in the world I wanted to be,” she said.

After setting up the fashion school, Qazi didn’t stop dreaming big. She went to Tangmarg and brought to life a unique cheese cottage farm stay in Kashmir, a name shared by the cheese cottage, the cafe and the homestay stands out for its location.

“Tangmarg has a rich tradition of dairy, which inspired me to set up the cheese factory. I wanted to create a world-class product that utilizes the resources we have and the skills our people possess and takes Kashmir to the world,” she said.

She aim is to create a world-class space in Tangmarg so that people from the world come and witness the beauty of Kashmir, eat beautiful food and experience unique culture.

Qazi, a multi-talented woman said her inspiration throughout the years has been the youth of Kashmir for their unparalleled talent and skills.

“I have experienced that Kashmiri women are very hardworking and focused that sometimes makes me gender biased as well. I would pick a female employee over a male,” she said.

In 2019, she involved herself in writing a book titled Be the CEO You Always Wanted To Marry, a book about breaking gender stereotypes reflects her feminist ideas about women empowerment. 

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