Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1125, 6 - 12 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Jewellery online

Farah El-Akkad looks at Egypt’s thriving online jewellery business, which has been responsible for many success stories

Al-Ahram Weekly

More and more small businesses are opening today on Facebook and other social media sites, and marketing experts believe that online shopping will increase in developing countries such as Egypt where many people are seeking to market their products on the web.
The trend is linked to the low cost of setting up an online business and the ease of getting products to clients in a short period of time. Rania Mohamed is one successful entrepreneur, a jewellery maker, who owes her success to Facebook. For 30 years, she had been interested in accessories and jewellery, but it was only when the social media sites took off in Egypt that Mohamed thought of turning her ideas into a business.
Intrigued by the idea of crafting her own handmade jewellery, Mohamed decided to learn more about business on the Internet. She started by watching YouTube videos on how to make jewellery professionally. “I watched dozens of videos on jewellery making and the different tools that should be used,” she admitted. After gaining experience through practising designs she had seen online, Mohamed succeeded in designing her own unique line of handmade jewellery.
“I started making my own line of designs after imitating a few I saw on YouTube,” she adds. However, Facebook was the means that really jump started Mohamed’s business, as she was able to show and promote her designs on it. Friends and family were her first customers, but after a couple of months her customer base grew.
Mohamed’s friends and family helped her by clicking on “invite” to attract further people to the site. “My Facebook page had a very large number of fans in quite a short time,” she recalls.
Mohamed explains that the low cost of Facebook was one of the main factors behind her success. “All you need is a professional camera, Internet access and a laptop,” she said. Also, marketing products using the site is almost effortless, attracting a large number of potential customers in next to no time.
However, Mohamed says that there are also some drawbacks related to online business. Some people believe that one can make money online in a very short period of time without putting in the necessary effort. “This is a myth,” Mohamed said.
Another disadvantage of online business is the possibility of one’s work being imitated or pirated, a common threat that entrepreneurs can’t do much about except by using privacy settings or by setting up closed groups or pages. This of course results in limiting a business to a restricted number of customers and close acquaintances, however, negating much of the advantage of Facebook as a marketing tool.
In addition to now being a qualified jewellery maker, Mohamed is also a successful artist who likes to combine colours in combinations that might at first seem strange but in fact make very attractive jewellery pieces.                   
She combines different precious stones with copper, making her jewellery stand out from other trends on the market. Mohamed’s business is now flourishing, and it is growing by the day. She attends various exhibitions to present and sell her handmade jewellery, and she is planning on opening her own physical store in the near future.
Another online success story is Nada Salem, who also started her own handmade jewellery business on Facebook. A talented Fine Arts graduate and a passionate artist, Salem was encouraged by friends to start her own jewellery business on the Internet in order to gain greater numbers of customers for her work. After less than a year online, her business has become a tremendous success, and she now also has a stand in one of Egypt’s biggest shopping malls.
Salem has also been able to open her own jewellery shop in one of the new cities surrounding Cairo. “It was all done through hard work, perseverance and through Facebook,” she said. Salem has some tips regarding establishing a business online, saying that because this is becoming more and more popular online businesses today are keen to present what’s best and most unique about their work.
Online business is becoming more and more competitive, she adds, with entrepreneurs being keen to show that their products are better than those of their competitors. Salem says that there can be vigorous competition on Facebook, even if this is different from that confronting physically-based companies.
Putting jewellery online, like displaying clothes online, can also be disappointing, Salem explains. “It may not look as good as it does in reality, which can give the wrong impression of the work.”
Facebook can also be a double-edged sword, since some online marketers sell their products without paying enough attention to the ethical aspects of their businesses. Yet, the businesses set up by Mohamed and Salem present good examples of how the Internet has helped many people achieve their dreams.
Just like any physical business, Facebook has its pitfalls. But looking on the bright side, it can also be a good way to start a business with lots of space for interaction and creativity.

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