Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am Emad Jaghasi, co-founder of the Sharqi Shop. I am Syrian, who moved to Jordan in 2013. I worked as a freelancer for 2 years and then joined e-commerce agency as a web developer. I worked with them for one year, then I met Selim at this agency and together we decided to start Sharqi.
What was the inspiration behind the creation of this project, how did you come up with the idea?
When I worked with the shop in the e-commerce agency I noticed that a lot of people would come to us and ask to create online stores for them. But an online store is not limited to the equipment, you should have some technical skills and you should know how to do some digital marketing too to be able to sell online. Most of them are very simple people, they don’t have any technical knowlege so we felt the need to help them and we decided to start Sharqi. Our team is helping artisans to sell their products internationally, is helping with the logistics, shipping, we are taking professional photos for them, writing content. This way they can focus more on the creation of their products because we take care of the rest. This is the idea.
What does “Sharqi” mean?
In Arabic Sharqi means oriental.
How do you choose artisans for your platform?
They are chosen based on lots of factors. The first is their creativity. Actually, we are looking for them on social media trying to find people´s reviews for their works. So most of them come from social media.
Can they apply themselves to the website?
Some people ask us to join. We have a team which decides who should we integrate depending on their works.
How can people find your website? How do you spread the info, only through social media or by other means?
Before advertising we are focusing on SEO – search engine optimization, due to our experience in e-commerce agency we are aware of the procedure to build the best SEO for online stores. Every month we have about 3000 visitors without running any marketing campaign. Apart from that, social media helps us a lot with the marketing.
How is the price settled for each piece, is it decided by the artisans themselves?
Yes, it is the artisan who settles the price and we take around 20 to 30% of it. They can join the website for free, but for each order we take commission.
And if I am a customer can I contact the artisan directly?
You can see the artisan profile on the store but there is no direct contact. But you can find him on social media if you want. There is a contract between us and them so our commission will be saved when someone comes from our platform to him and tells “we reached you from Sharqi”.
Generally, what kind of customers do you have? Mainly from which countries?
In this stage we are focusing on Arabic countries, most of them come from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar, Kuwait. We want to expand to Lebanon and Turkey, where are a lot of craftspeople.
Reaching European market is our future goal. However, for some reason, most of our products don´t seem so appealing to them. For that we decided to hire designers in order to redesign some products to become more appealing for European market.
Did you face any difficulties during the settlement of the project?
We are Syrians in Jordan so it´s very hard to register a company there with a Syrian nationality. There are some conditions to do it, but we have to pay a lot of money. We started two years ago and until now it is registered under my friend´s name who is form Jordan. So that is the main obstacle.
Did you get sponsors to create the project?
Yes, there is an office in Jordan, Oasis500, so we got 50000$ fund from them. And there is also Shamalstart which is in Jordan but it is supported by EU. Shamalstart gave us a grant and Oasis500 is a partner.
Did you have some personal motivation to do this kind of project, to put the artisans in a place where it´s easier to sell their products?
Yes, sure. When we started we had a lot of motivation to help them. These craftspeople are very simple and their creations can´t be sold in Jordan. When they were in Syria people from all over the world would come to buy their products but in Jordan they are always thinking how to relocate to Europe or America since there is no market for them there. Currently we are helping about 60 artisans. All of this gave us the motivation to keep working on this project.
Now we are trying to develop handmade healthcare products, because there are also a lot of people working on natural beauty products. So now we are collaborating with people who have certificates to produce these type of products in Jordan. And it will give the opportunity to ship worldwide. We are trying to create Sharqi care subdomain platform.
Interview by Aneta, Ana and Diana