Parween Mascari outside her Charleston shop.
Photo by Joel Bennett, Aronfield Agency.
“Find your creative outlet.”
Parween Mascari is a judge by day and a retail shop owner by night. She’s half Afghan or as she calls it, “Halfghan,” born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. She spends her days traveling her state as a Deputy Chief Administrative Law Judge for West Virginia, hearing unemployment compensation appeals from all over the state. She admits her job isn’t glamorous, but she loves it because she gets to hear some very interesting stories. “I tell my kids my job is basically to serve as a ‘human lie detector’ and I take very seriously my obligation to listen carefully to both sides of the story, apply the law to the facts, and write a fair decision,” she explains. Before she became a judge, she had over a decade of experience working in a private law practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants. She also spent five years as a lobbyist for small and large businesses.
Her retail shop, WV Market Gallery, is where she can let her hair down a little and be creative. “I love working with so many talented artisans, including glassmakers, potters, painters, jewelry and textile artists, as well as farmers, value-added food producers, and brewers,” she says. She also hopes to expand collaborations with some of the smaller farm wineries around the state. “I love showing off the talent we have here in the Mountain State to visitors, from our state’s capital city—Charleston, to the Village of the state’s largest ski resort—Snowshoe Mountain Resort,” she says. “I also sell jewelry that I make in my shops, and I hope to continue to grow that part of my business.”
In the long term, Parween would like to expand her artistry and create a jewelry brand with her three daughters. “It will be called Sultan’s Daughters as a tribute to our Afghan heritage,” she explains. Her three daughters have caught the creative bug as well. Her youngest daughter Sophia is an amazing pencil artist whose drawings are sold at their Snowshoe shop. Her middle daughter Isabella, a pre-med student, rummages through piles of clothes in the thrift shop for the perfect fashion pieces to embroider. She also upcycles and creates new fashion styles in her dorm room at Shepherd University. They both run an Instagram account for their fashion inspirations @mistakentwin. Her eldest daughter Chanel runs an Instagram account where her cat Maya reviews local brews around Pittsburgh, called @brewswithmaya and also @southparkcatfriends, a page dedicated to the neighborhood cats of her childhood community. “I’m proud that they understand the importance of artists and makers and supporting folks in our local community,” Parween says.
“I love showing off the talent we have here in the Mountain State to visitors.”
Parween is using her free time to help her beloved West Virginia. She serves as a board member of the Snowshoe Foundation and as a Trustee of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. “I would like to continue that work and renew my focus on tourism, downtown revitalization, creative placemaking, and supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners,” she says. “I would additionally like to increase my efforts in helping to tackle gender and diversity and inclusion and equity issues with groups such as the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council, West Virginia Forward, Philanthropy West Virginia, and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.”
Parween Mascari and daughters Sophia and Isabella (from left).
Photo credit – Kinship Goods Photo Booth.
Parween is looking to get into e-commerce soon. She would like to set up an online shop so that people around the world can see the creativity and beauty of Appalachia, and more specifically, West Virginia. She also has some ideas for a book that she wants to start writing. She would love to share the story of what it was like for her and her sister Rena to grow up Halfghan in Appalachia. “Maybe it will be so good that they will make a movie about it,” she ponders.
“I would like to continue that work and renew my focus on tourism, downtown revitalization, creative placemaking, and supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners.”