Every week, 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, and more!
This time, we're tying the red ribbon on Wrapping Station (WS) -- an initiative created by a Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar) fashion design student that's been getting a lot of attention lately. A home-based business which was independently established by 21-year-old Maryam Fahad Al-Majid and didn't undergo any incubation from either QBIC or DIC, WS is one of the 30 pop-up shops featured at Mall of Qatar this year during the Shop Qatar Festival. Al-Majid was among the 75 Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) entrepreneurs who had the chance to showcase their works in the month-long event.
Qatar's growing demand for services in highly-specialized niches such as gift-wrapping prompted Maryam to turn her passion into something profitable through WS. Besides lacking a customized cards and gift-wrapping business in Qatar, Maryam thought that it would be ideal to have a small, artsy service that the public can trust when it comes to incorporating the 'element of surprise' on their gifts.
"In Doha, people gift a lot. I myself personally love giving more than receiving, even without any occasion. Qataris are generally very generous. And when I see them buying gifts from the mall, it pains to see that the quality of the actual gift diminishes with the absence of a decent wrapping paper," explains Al-Majid, who admits that she'll go crazy in a shop selling gift-wrapping materials and cards.
She's also received a considerable amount of public attention upon being featured in the Gulf Times, The Peninsula, and Qatar Tribune recently, an overjoyed Maryam reveals that she's not one to ever want to miss out on any opportunity.
Trying to juggle both her studies and her 18-month-old business, Maryam pointed out that her background in fashion design has helped her a lot in bringing quality and credibility to Wrapping Station and vice versa. "Being a fashion student, I know that there's a big difference between authentic and low-quality fabric. Most of my materials come from India. I fly there personally to buy the fabrics."
On her effort of going to India just to buy fabrics, Maryam says that it's necessary as she wants to touch and feel the fabrics personally: "I don’t want to ship them here as I want to see the colors and feel the textures. Images just won’t suffice."
Most of Maryam's weekends are spent wrapping or working on personalized cards -- lettering and applying modern calligraphy to them. She does everything by herself -- from managing the company's Instagram account, to liaising with customers, and sending the gifts. "It's hard because I [always] like to get hands-on with the business as much as I can, but it's so much fun too as I'm learning tons of new skills every single day."
Maryam considers her loyal customers her best teachers, as they're always trying to give her pointers to become better in her chosen field of work. In return, she aims to deliver a top-notch service that's more than what her customers would expect.
The price for a single paper wrapping service with WS would range from QR 50 to 60 for a gift the size of an iPhone. The price over the service is dependent upon the size of the item to be wrapped.
When asked about what's next for WS, Maryam says she's planning something special for Ramadan this year. She's also eyeing to open a booth or kiosk for WS inside a mall if given the chance. Right after graduation, a business-minded Maryam discloses that another possible business venture might be on its way -- this time concerning jewelry.
In the end, Maryam extends all her praises to HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al Missned for doing her best to uplift the already thriving art industry in Qatar. She pointed out the Sheikha's lifelong efforts to push the youth in Qatar to become more inclined towards sports and the arts.
To find out more about Wrapping Station and to help support this unique startup, check out their details below!
Contact: (+974) 6600-4408
What are some of your favourite startups around Doha? Comment below! And don’t forget to give us a like and share!
(Cover image courtesy of Wrapping Station's Instagram)
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