Every Thursday, ILQ features a different Qatari startup in our ‘Startup of the Week’ segment. Qatar has some of the most creative, unique, and impactful startups in the region, and we cover them all across a variety of industries in Doha—from fashion and beauty, to food and dining, health, education, technology, and more!
Our first featured startup for 2019 is Gift Shed—Qatar's ultimate hub for individuals to come together and share their love of beautiful and inspiring gifts, stationery, crafts and design.
A unique Qatari lifestyle concept for the community, the Gift Shed team puts people, moments and experiences at the heart of what they do. The concept aims to inspire and empower others through their wide range of products and services, which can all be viewed and experience in their Doha Festival City (DFC) branch.
Talking to ILoveQatar.Net, co-founder Ms. Hema Pathak Vara shared that the whole idea grew out from her and the owner's passion for marking life’s special moments by gifting thoughtfully.
The gift shop, which opened its doors 13th of December year 2017, celebrated its first birthday recently. And just like every newly-launched local company, the first year wasn't easy for them. The Gift Shed team went from idea to conception to trading in one of the biggest malls in the country all in less than 15 months—which was quite an ambitious project considering that they were a new retail startup at the time of their inception.
We still remember those early setup days with great fondness, especially the night before opening, where we all worked through the night for several days to ensure everything was set up perfectly—from each individual piece of origami handmade by us and hung on our trees in our Shed, to ensuring that every product was positioned correctly. There was a certain magic in the air seeing everything come together and feel like a dream had been realized. We felt as though we had created something special for our community to enjoy.
One notable reason which makes Gift Shed relevant, according to Ms. Hema, is the support of local talent and suppliers. "We are powered by a strong vision and mission of elevating Qatari and local artists and brands. As such, we provide a platform to celebrate local suppliers and showcase their unique products."
This unique attribute of the now one-year-old startup company is reflected in their proudly Qatari range where they curate special collections of homegrown goods that have
been conceptualized and cultivated within the country. "As a startup ourselves, we truly
believe that when you support a local business, you are supporting a dream," she proudly shared.
There's a highly-noticeable scarcity in craft and stationery-themed businesses in Qatar and Ms. Hema was quick to find that out. She thinks that what Gift Shed does is it fills the gap and offers something fresh and new in terms of variety and choice to the people of Qatar by coming up with unique and affordable products.
We work hard to source and curate unique collections from around the world over that are not available elsewhere in this part of the globe. As an independent retailer we are in the unique position of being able to be quick and responsive to our customer’s needs. We take the time to build relationships with our customers and ask them what they would like to see more of.
Ms. Hema further added that they're not just a gift shop, but rather an experience. She emphasized that in addition to offering beautiful products and promoting Qatari talent and products, Gift Shed also offers a range of different experiences—including gift wrapping, an area of craft-making that the team has already built a reputation for. "With our signature designs that have been created by our Giftologists, we’ve turned gift wrapping into an art form."
More than a year into the business, the co-founder expressed that the response that the Gift Shed team is receiving from their customers so far are "overwhelmingly positive."
As a Qatari startup, we have been grateful for the love, support and encouragement we have received from all our customers and local community. Gift Shed customers are those who appreciate a more personal and emotive touch to their purchasing. They love to feel inspired by beautiful products and ideas, and want to browse and carefully put together thoughtful collections for their loved ones or for themselves. As such, our customers have really connected with the thoughtful, positive and upbeat energy of our Shed. We love hearing feedback from our customers, and they often tell us how much they enjoy walking around our store and losing themselves in our vibrant offerings, and that Gift Shed is their ‘happy place’.
Playing a crucial role to Qatar’s economic growth especially in the current economic climate, startups are an efficient way to support and encourage entrepreneurship, which is resulting in new innovations, technologies, concepts being introduced to the market, creating jobs and healthy competition, and creating economic diversification in the country.
The lady boss wrapped up the encounter with an advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to establish startups of their own in the near future.
Be bold, be brave, take that dream and vision you have, create a plan and turn it into reality. Above all, believe in yourself. When we set up Gift Shed, not many people understood or believed in our concept. Believe in your vision, and keep pushing forward. Do not be scared to do things differently. Establishing a startup is exhilarating but also full or highs and lows. It’s all part of the journey, so embrace it and allow your vision and passion to navigate you through the more challenging times. Be open to change and be flexible enough to be responsive to change and adaptable to market needs.
The gift shop also offers fun and creative workshops which provide a forum for their lovely customers to pursue their passions and empower themselves with new skills.
You can visit Gift Shed's maiden branch on the 1st floor of Doha Festival City.
To know more about Gift Shed, check out their website and social media links below!
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