Every Thursday, ILQ features a different 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!
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In this week's edition of Startup of the Week, we're bringing to you JILID's premium handcrafted leather goods! The online business, which launched in July 2020, offers a variety of leather products - journal covers, wallets, cardholders, passport covers, bookmarks, and more - that are all made by hand, stitched by hand, and finished by hand here in Qatar.
JILID, founded by Isa Aljalahma, is born out of his passion for leather crafting. JILID's products are made with extreme care and attention to detail resulting in quality leather products that are long-lasting and durable.
The leather artisan shared how the Jilid, the business was born:
When I was younger, I constantly found myself looking back in time to the ancient traditions of our ancestors. I’ve always considered myself a creative person, and I enjoyed using my hands to create. Whether it was whittling a piece of wood or crafting something out of some scrap pieces of leather, I loved the process and I loved the material. Leather always stood out to me due to its durability and its elegance. Not to mention, it’s been used since before 5000 B.C.
After reading, practicing, and mastering the traditional techniques of leather crafting, I decided to turn this passion into something more serious and ambitious. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do – I simply knew that I had come so far, and this could no longer be something as simple as a hobby. I knew I needed to take it to a new level.
From there, Jilid was born. I believed in myself, and I worked hard. Day and night, I worked to bring my idea to life in any way I could. I believed in my abilities, I trusted my process, and I stayed the course. You see, I just felt that life was too short – and it wouldn’t be worth it to let it pass me by without following my true passion.
"The business idea came directly from my passion for leathercraft. As Oprah Winfrey once said “Follow your passion. It will lead you to your purpose.” For me, that was entirely true. When you’re passionate, there are no limits to what you can accomplish," Isa shared.
The brand name “Jilid” comes from the Arabic word "جلد", which translates to “Leather”.
Talking about why he enjoys crafting leather products, Isa replied that leather crafting serves a dual purpose because the process is meditative for him. "It is a step-by-step process that demands a sense of calmness, focus, and relaxation, and I am fully devoted to sticking to the ancient traditional techniques as they contribute to producing a long-lasting, elegant product," he added.
Speaking about his favorite piece to make, Isa said that the last piece that he makes is always his best piece. "I choose my projects carefully and that’s why I’m proud of every piece I make. Once I finish my last piece, I move on to a new one. The cycle always continues and moves forward."
When asked what inspires him to keep making quality products out of leather, Isa said that the next project is what keeps him inspired and motivated while his last project is what he's proud of. This mentality keeps him working to innovate, ideate, and create out of the box ideas that are not available worldwide. "Throughout our time in business, we have successfully developed many unique Jilid products that are very elegant in their own design, and our work has just started," Isa said.
"Here at Jilid, nothing is more important to us than ensuring the highest level of quality for all of our premium leather products. Taking into account our passion, our belief in the old and traditional means of leather crafting, our leather sourcing process, our premium handheld tools, and our unique saddle stitch technique, we believe that we’re able to guarantee a level of quality for premium leather products that simply can’t be found elsewhere in the global market."
Jilid's customers can expect products that are built to last with every stitch. "We use full-grain and top-grain leather to promote durability and longevity. These types of leather can last for generations to come."
"In addition, we stand behind our products and are willing to offer our support to ensure optimal leather care. We want to generate a high-quality experience for our customers and we never quit until that experience is achieved and protected," according to Isa.
Speaking about the hard part of growing a business, Isa pointed out that having a long term vision helps in the long run. "When you have passion for a craft, the path is clear, and therefore, it is just a matter of putting hours and hours of work into it. Moving step by step helps set things into perspective and setting short term goals with a long term vision in mind is always a wise idea to help ensure you stay the course."
"The hardest part of growing “Jilid” is probably overcoming doubts and taking risks. Growing a business requires not just passion, but education in the critical areas of management, sales & marketing, product development, and accounting."
Jilid's biggest achievement to date is the launch of its website and multiple exclusive products made by "Jilid"
ILQ also asked him for his advice for young people who want to take the same path and he answered that based on his experience, one should follow one's passion. "If you don’t like what you are doing, then it’ll certainly be a challenge to remain creative and motivated. Read books and keep researching the subjects you enjoy to ensure that you continue to grow and develop in your trade."
All our products are handcrafted in Qatar, you can find our products on our website or our Instagram account and they are as well displayed in Torba Store.
Without giving too much away, I can say that our customers can look to the future. We have a number of exciting products in store for them, and we can’t wait to see the response.
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