The craftier, the better!

The craftier, the better!

We found this talented and creative entrepreneur, Samia Samiullah, owner of Samia Crafts, and was impressed by the array of intricately designed handicrafts she is offering.

To most people, creativity is as natural as breathing or walking. Having a creative mind or crafty hands is indeed an amazing human characteristic. However, creativity doesn’t always translate successfully to business savvy as it demands discipline and utter focus. Luckily, there are few creative entrepreneurs, such as Samia Samiullah, who is determined and driven to start her creative venture in the Kingdom, promoting both artistry and women empowerment at the same time.
Where did you go to school?

I went to DHA High School, a private school in Karachi.

What degree did you acquire?

I completed my bachelor’s in interior design from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, Pakistan.

What made you decide to pursue the entrepreneurial path?

My father was a self-made industrialist who instilled important entrepreneurial qualities in me and my siblings from a very young age. Back then, I would accompany my father to his office, international expos and various conferences. I think that experience and upbringing inspired me to become an entrepreneur. However, I wanted to do it in my way and my desired business field. Since I have an extensive art background and I consider art as my hobby and passion, I decided to use it as my platform to enter the world of entrepreneurship.

From where did you get the funding to kick off this venture?

I have been blessed to have such a supportive family to help me pursue my passion.

Did you use Tamkeen’s services to start your operation?

Tamkeen is a great initiative for local entrepreneurs. However, I was not able to utilize their services yet. Hopefully, we can tap into their resources in the future as we continuously grow as a company.

What are some notable challenges you have encountered upon starting up?

Amongst the most significant challenges was finding the right people to man our operation. Handling fragile products such as imported blue potteries and ceramics from Pakistan requires some extra care and effort. Hiring people who don’t have concern for the safety and fragility of my products will become a problem for me in the long-run. As such, even though it’s not easy, I see to it that I only hire people who are keen on arts and are attentive and responsive enough to handle the delicacy of our products.

How was your experience dealing with government entities which regulate the retail of handcrafted products segment?

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. Though some tasks took longer than anticipated, like paper works and stuff, all in all, it was a straightforward and convenient experience.

Were you the one person who manages all the ministerial requirements and approvals for setting up your business or you hired a different company?

Starting this business was not light on the pocket, I mean I did have some budget constraints. These constraints drove me to manage all the ministerial requirements myself. I must say that the experience helps a lot since I was able to learn more about government procedures related to business matters. 

What made you decide to put up your first shop at Enma Mall?

I think the location is ideal with regards to the number of people utilizing the mall, as our objective is also to promote the craft not just to generate sales.

What can you say about women entrepreneurship in Bahrain?

New start-ups being set up by women entrepreneurs is a positive sign for society. We need more of these start-ups in Bahrain. It is always a pleasure to see fellow empowered women working side by side with men to promote culture, their identity and the diversity in their chosen industries.

How’s the handicrafts market in Bahrain at the moment?

It’s a new market that is setting foot in the country. People in Bahrain have good taste when it comes to handicrafts, and they appreciate our products. We have been receiving requests for more products all the time, so the demand is high, and I believe the supply at the moment is falling short. Of course, we can only do so much since we are a start-up.

Have you ever started a business before this?

I did some earlier work as a freelance interior designer, but I can say that Samia Crafts is my first foray to the business world at such a scale.

Who is your role model?

That would be the late Dame Zaha Hadid, the first woman to have received the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

My kids keep me busy, and they light up the mood after a weeklong of working. Also, oil painting is something I love doing as it helps me unwind as well.

What is your favorite book?

I think it must be Little Prince by the French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It helps you reconnect to your inner child that gets lost as we grow up. A simple yet such an inspiring book that I believe all entrepreneurs should read.

Where would be your ideal vacation destination?

It’s definitely the Maldives. Having lived in a metropolis, I think places with a serene natural aura is very appealing.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs out there?

Believe in yourself and never stop trying. If you fall today, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to walk back again. It simply means you should muster more courage and keep walking until you reach your destination. Start small but aim big!

What do you think about the print magazine in today’s digital age?

Well, who doesn’t like the smell of ink on the paper? I’m a Xennial (a term that refers to people born between 1977 and 1983), and I grew up reading books and stories in hard print. Magazines were no exception, and although digital has its use, I think one medium cannot be an absolute replacement of the other. This is the case with the print medium as well. I hope it continues to flourish so our children can at least carry the same values that we did despite the technological advancements.

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