Writing is Like Dancing for Me

One day a fruit seller while passing through a village enters into an empty street. He stops by under a tree shadow to take some rest. Then after taking some rest and drinking water he starts dancing for himself.

Dancing Guy

While he is focused dancing, a group of street kids watch him from distance and slowly come closer, sit down quietly and don’t interrupt. When the guy ends his dance, he finds the kids sitting there. He passes them a smile. Children ask him to dance again, but he has to go.

But inside him, he promise that he would come again in the street and dance for himself (and the kids would enjoy too). He irregularly visits the street, sometime once a week, once a month and sometime even after several months.

He’s not coming back to dance because of the children’s amusement but because of himself. He knows he should be doing it regularly.

I am the fruit seller. This blog is the street. Writing is like dancing for me. You’re the kids. Hello kids! I’m in the street again.

Writing Again on WAQASALI.me

Remember that I used to write, sometime quite frequently. But it hasn’t been happening for some time now.

Part of that is because I am really busy at Hometown. Part of that is I have been lazy about, and was finding it difficult writing at personal level. Also (believe it or not) part of that is because I no longer like this platform as much. Everytime I or someone landed on my website. It would show you some really silly and unrelated Ads on my page. So I was looking into a new place for my writing.

So my blog is moving to SVBTLE. It is a new kind of magazine platform and they are trying to make it easier for people to share and discover new ideas. Part of that includes helping writers (like me) with copy editing and fast-checking. I think I am gonna use them to improve my writing skills.

Good thing is that my blog address will still be waqasali.me and you can also subcribe via email. So let’s see how it goes and thank you for sticking and riding along.

A Conversation with Customer

If you follow Hometown, you might know that we write a handwritten personal note to each customer. Recently we ran our sale on Fab.com. Despite the fact we didn’t know who’ll be buying our shoes from there, I and my co-founder Sidra wrote handwritten letters and included them in the shoe boxes while shipping.

Letter to one of our early customer.
Letter to one of our early customers, Behroze Khan.

Some people replied back using email. Here is one of the conversations:

From: Felix K.
To: Waqas Ali
Subject: Reply to your letter

Dear Waqas Ali,

first of all i would like to say that i am very happy with my new shoes. You and your team did a very, very nice job! Thank you for your letter. It was very surprising to find a letter in the box. This gave the shoes a very personal touch. Even the fact that you take the time to write a letter (by hand) shows that you take care about your customers. I wish more manufactories like yours will combine perfect craftsmanship with current technologies. Keep it going, and thank you and your employees.

With best regards from Lake Constance, Germany

Felix J. Keller

My reply to Felix:

Dear Felix

I am very honoured and humbled to hear from you. And that, such a positive note. Thank you again for taking time to do this for us.

That is right that Hometown combines craftsmanship with technology and storytelling. Stories just like these.

I never knew that Lake Constance is a place in Germany, now I know that and may be sometime I shall come visit you. Your feedback is very valuable and we’ll make Hometown even a better place to buy from.

If it is okay with you, consider sharing a picture (or more) of yours with Hometown shoes. We would put this in our office.

And if we can help in any way, please write me here like a friend!

Best wishes from Lahore, Pakistan

Sincerely, Waqas Ali.

The purpose of sharing this conversation is, so that other can learn from our experience and use something out of it.

Hometown is looking for interns — anywhere from the world

For new comers, I’ll come straight to the point.

HOMETOWN makes high-end leather footwear for men. We’re based in Lahore, Pakistan and are a year old startup. Our idea is to help Pakistani craftsmen make great products and sell in a remarkable way. We combine craftsmanship, story-telling and technology. We believe in keeping humanity into our business, therefore we ask for help when we need it. This is where you come, and will spend two months with a diverse group of  people.

 

The positions available are mentioned below. Ideally, we are looking for college students or dropouts who can work from home / campus at least for three days a week. The candidates should be able to work quickly, efficiently and without much supervision.This is an unpaid internship, but we believe in freedom of work and ideas. So if you’re about passionate in working a startup / social enterprise in the above mentioned areas, do come. You’ll get valuable skills, experience and networking. Please take 5 min to know about Hometown Story, why we write a handwritten letter, how we started from a small town of Pakistan and made it places like Acumen, and receive testimonials from our customers like these.

1. Leather Shoes / Accessories Designer:

You’ll work with our design team, give feedback on upcoming collection of shoes and leather accessories.

2. Designer

You will shape the future of Hometown. Designer will work with almost everyone in our small team, from craftsmen to founders to customers. We’re not looking for someone who’s design starts and ends in Photoshop. Instead someone who starts from notebook, and willing to do it differently and learn from customers’ feedback.

3. Front End Developer

We’re re-vamping our web strategy. You’ll help us design our platforms for stories and shopping portal by working along our developer.

4. Story Teller

Story telling is an ingredient part of the kind of brand we’re trying to build. As a story teller, you’ll make sure story of our team, customers are part of our all messages. You’ll review the content of our new website, build the content strategy and help the word out.
To apply, send a brief note of interest along with your work sample / résumé at bolo@hometownshoes.com by June 30th.

Hello World

Failing in writing has become almost norm for me.

When 2013 started, I planned to write a worthy for myself and everyone who follows my blog. But look, here we are, 70 solid days has passed and I couldn’t write that GREAT post.

I have realized that just because we haven’t time / energy / skills to execute a perfect shot we miss so many of easier but worth doing tasks. The same has been happening on my blog too. I could have written something.

It is not the case that I was all disconnected from writing, I wrote a story, 100s of emails, tweets, and hand written notes.

I get challenged by writing, almost all the time. But this is among all the good reasons I write for.

The purpose of this post is to say Hello to you, and tell that I’m okay, and I’m here again.

Trying again and again (in writing) is norm for me.

HOMETOWN is Growing Fast and Becoming Better Each Day

We can wait for few days, for big news to come and then we’ll share them with people we care, and who care back. This is what I have been thinking, and taking a little break from writing and then 3 solid months pass by.

Yesterday, I wrote this letter to the community around HOMETOWN.

Hey friend,

I believe life is treating you well, and you are doing good in health and happiness.

Here at HOMETOWN, we’re going through the most exciting time of our life. I mean it, please give 3-5 min to read this email. I’ve tried to make it worth.

1. WON Pakistan’s First Startup Incubation Program
Yes, next month we are shifting to our new office. Out of 500+ startups, HOMETOWN made it to the top position among 4 winners. We’re very thrilled about this opportunity.
2. Now Accepts PayPal and Major Credit Cards

I can not thank enough to our customers like yours, who took out the time and paid us through Western Union. That’s what makes you our friend. We’re improving how we sell, communicate and all. So it comes as a good news that we’ve setup PayPal & Credit Cards as our payments gateway.

3. HOMETOWN featured as “Innovation Hero”

Provincial Govt of Punjab, and Google Inc, launched Innovation Campaign in Punjab, Pakistan. In there, they featured inspiring businesses and individual as ‘Innovation Hero.’ We’re so  honored to be among the 5 heroes. Here is the complete story.

4. Customers’Stories
This is best. Every morning, we get up for two main reasons. 1) Are we establishing an honest and trustworthy connection with our customers? 2) Are we really growing?

Both of the reasons are equally important to us, let me tell you small stories.

Bill from Singapore, bought a Chappal from us to gift to his father-in-law. Now that is very exciting.

Tahreem from KSA, ordered for beSpoke shoes to wear on his wedding day. Later on, he asked that if we could add a different buckle with shoes. I said, why not! But then, I said, wait a little and we make another pair for you with different buckle and you keep both shoes with you. He asked, can I get brown colour instead of black, as I already have a black now. I said, all done!

You can read Tahreem’s comment on our customers’ testimonial page.

5. Borrow Books from HOMETOWN
I love books, and especially remarkable books. At HOMETOWN, we have initiated this activity, we let our friends in Lahore borrow books from us, read and then return back. More detail here.
6. Better Address
In addition to hometownshoes.com, you can now access us by any of the following URL

All this is made possible because you guys trust us, trust a lot. It encourages us to work more harder and in a smarter yet humble way.

Life is treating us better each day, now our parents ask about in which countries we’re shipping our shoes and who’s the customer. It is very beautiful, to be in all this.
Please tell me if there is any way, I and my team can interact with you in a better way. We are learning, and doing.
I appreciate your time to read this, and feel this. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

A Hacker’s Birthday

“But one thing is certain, and it’s that I’m a jerk for making this site. Oh well. Someone had to do it eventually…”

“We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”

“We have a saying: ‘Move fast and break things.’ The idea is that if you never break anything, you are probably not moving fast enough.”

“Let the hacking begin.”

“The hacker way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete.”

“In a world that is changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks.”

“You have part of my attention, the minimum amount needed. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook where my employees and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.”

Someone at Facebook: “He pointed out Apple’s headquarters, then Hewlett-Packard and a number of other big tech companies,” the individual explained. “Then he pointed to Facebook and said that it would eventually be bigger than all of the companies he had just mentioned, and that if I joined the company, I could be a part of it all.”

And… Steve Jobs: “but I don’t see anybody other than Facebook out there. Just Facebook, They are dominating this. I admire Mark Zuckerberg . . . for not selling out, for wanting to make a company. I admire that a lot.”

Boy it is your day. Wishes from Pakistan. 🙂