JEDDAH: The coronavirus pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges for businesses around the world, but it has also accelerated the growth of ecommerce as people increasingly rely on online services.
Saudi interior designer Abrar Saggaf (@Abrarsaggaf) launched her brand Shaqmata in July at the peak of the outbreak in the Kingdom.
But, rather than get bogged down by the economic conditions thrown up by the pandemic, Saggaf decided to challenge herself with something new.
“I asked myself a question: Why would one limit themselves to one specialty, career, and source of income when they can invest in their talents and explore many potential opportunities?” she told Arab News. “I opened my drawer and found that I had many drawings which I collected over the years, and they resembled our local culture and I decided to convert my art style into products.”
Shaqmata (@shaqmata), which means scribbles in Arabic, turns Saggaf’s art into everyday products.
For years she had been encouraged by friends on social media to make decorative items like rugs and pillows out of her drawings that were the product of her stress-relief strategy - doodling.
Saggaf began with bags and has launched three designs since July. The designs are based on three different characters she created to resemble a certain culture.
She is also working on launching a new product - a modern abaya or light jacket - within a month.
What sets Shaqmata apart from other brands are its reasonable price point, as well as its quality and sophisticated design.
“Each character of our products has a name, a birth date, and a story. The more you give depth to your product the more people can connect with it,” she added. “At the beginning people used to order the products by design, now they know the designs by their names.”
Shaqmata targets a wide audience. Anyone interested in something unique and special that has a story - but is also practical - is a potential customer for Saggaf.
“Also, those interested in creative local brands and culture and art enthusiasts.”
Her 10 years interior design experience, together with her passion for art, helped to grow her business in a few months.
“Although this is a completely new experience for me, my long experience in interior design helped me understand how to satisfy the needs of the targeted audience.”
She encouraged young people to seize opportunities and dare to take the first step toward their dream projects. “If people try to explore themselves, everyone will be able to find a hidden talent inside that’s worthy of their attention and investment.”
Saggaf currently sells her products on Instagram and delivers them to all regions of Saudi Arabia. But they will soon be available at two concept stores in Jeddah and will become available in Riyadh and Alkhobar as well.
She also wanted to offer her products to a wider audience worldwide, with her brand functioning as a platform for creative artists with similar interests to contribute to it.
“My goals are limitless. I want to take this project to grow as big as possible, reaching customers all over the world.”