Isn’t it every girl’s dream to be able to launch a business with their best friend and thrive? No? Just us? Well, its what two lifelong friends, Dana Jaber and Rasha Abdelhadi, did when they created a well curated ecommerce platform that offers up select pieces from a plethora of regional designers and brands. Kinzzi is the ultimate online lifestyle marketplace for independent labels, much loved by those who are conscious consumers with a keen eye for style and home décor with an eco-friendly and ethical attitude.
The UAE based site thrives in a marketplace saturated with better known brands and competitive prices due to its dedication to highlighting noteworthy, yet lesser known, brands that you may only come across if you happened to stumble across them on your travels. Kinzzi was created to support a wider creative community with a view to become the ultimate go-to retail destination for unique treasures – and that’s exactly what “kinzzi” translates to in Arabic: “treasure.” When it is two Arab women that are pioneering a concept that benefits an entire community of emerging brands and small businesses, it goes without saying that AboutHer.com wanted to know everything about it…
You are two friends, who have gone into business together, and are also the co-founders of your jewelry line, Tiba and now Kinzzi - tell us a little about your back story and how your concepts came about…
We’ve known each other for a long time and have a friendship that spans nearly 20 years. One day a mutual friend brought us together over coffee and lets just say the rest is history. At that time, Dana had already started her jewelry brand Tiba, however, had the dream of establishing a curated marketplace to showcase all the hidden talent in the region and beyond. During that serendipitous coffee morning, both of us discovered a shared love for all things interiors, fashion, art and design, and decided to partner together on Tiba and actively worked towards establishing a curated online marketplace - Kinzzi.
What is Kinzzi and its concept?
Kinzzi is a Dubai-based, online shopping platform offering a unique curation of emerging regional designers and artists. When you shop at Kinzzi, you’re shopping directly from independent designers and sellers. You will find limited-edition pieces crafted by independent brands, emerging talent and small businesses.
The vision for Kinzzi was to create a hub and a one-stop shop for all the amazing talent out there, and make these products available to everyone. It's our way of empowering these brands and showcasing their talent to bring them the recognition they deserve.
We pride ourselves in hand-selecting items that tell a story while also making them accessible to our like-minded, creative community. We curate an eclectic mix of fashion, art and homeware and offer a creative directory of industry professionals that have been carefully vetted by our team.
Shining a spotlight on small local emerging businesses is a commendable concept, but in such a competitive market where smaller labels are up against major labels, what sets Kinzzi aside and makes it the online shopping platform with a difference?
The retail industry is extremely competitive, and in a world where there is so much likeness, we wanted to highlight the uniqueness in each of these independent brands. From our experience, buyers appreciate products that are unique and tell a story. These brands and their products are original, unique, competitively priced and offer something unlike anything else that is out there. We are giving access to brands that are usually only available through your travels.
Strength is in numbers, so by joining forces and bringing all these smaller brands under one roof, there is a greater chance for success. We want to support the creative community, and in doing so, also establish ourselves as a go-to destination for small, independent and emerging brands.
As two savvy business women, what have been the greatest challenges that you've faced in launching your own enterprises and how do you find yourselves overcoming them?
bsite, we were building a marketplace platform with different features. Once we finally created what we had in mind, it was an incredible sense accomplishment - even before we started selling anything! In hindsight we could’ve avoided many of these mistakes, but it’s easy for us to say that now - as hindsight vision is always 20/20!! All the challenges we faced were part of our learning and growth process.
Many would be inspired by your resilience and passion to create something you love and make it your source of income, who have been the women that have inspired you in your own journey?
Passion is the key word here. It’s what kept driving us when the going got tough. Kinzzi to us truly symbolizes everything we love - curation, sourcing, design, editorials, community and social impact. We are lucky to live in a time where there are many successful women that have such inspirational stories. One woman that inspired us in our journey was Sara Blakely - the founder of the shapewear company Spanx. She went through many failures to get to where she is today. She went from selling fax machines door-to-door to creating a unique type of body shapewear that has become a household name for many women. She was a one-woman show, and did everything herself at the beginning, she would stand at department stores to sell her products. She created something that SHE needed and wanted to wear, and despite all the trials and tribulations, she made a successful business out of it.
What business advice could you lend to the budding female entrepreneurs reading this interview?
I think many of us underestimate our capabilities and potential. When starting a business, things might seem daunting at first. We both had a lot of ups and downs along the way, but the most important thing is to learn from the downs and see what got us there and to remember the ups and give yourself a pat on the back. It’s a lot of hard work, but always remember to stay focused.
During the pandemic, we saw a rather dramatic economic downturn, how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you/your business and the way it operates?
We had just received our business license right before the lockdown, and although that wouldn’t have typically been good timing, it actually served us well in the sense that we were able to focus on everything that needed to be done - without any of our daily life distractions. Since most things could be done remotely, we were able to launch our site in the summer.
Although the pandemic was devastating in a lot of ways, the timing of Kinzzi actually proved to be helpful to a lot of the brands that are in our portfolio. Kinzzi gave them another avenue to sell their products. It was nice to know that we were able to provide a space to help support small businesses that were really struggling to survive in the height of the pandemic.
How have you adapted to the way people are shopping during this time?
Due to the pandemic, a lot of businesses and consumers had to change their mindsets and embrace e-commerce more than they might have done previously. Here in the Middle East we’ve come a long way in e-commerce in the past couple of years, however, we are still way behind countries such as the US. Now that things are starting to change, we are confident that we have launched our platform at the right time - where we will get a positive response from both our sellers and our customers.
Tell us about some of the brands on Kinzzi and how you curate your platform...
We both have a list of all the brands, designers and artists that we love so we contacted them to invite them to sell on our platform. We make sure we have the right mix of designers and products that will resonate with us and the consumer. Even within the brands that we bring on - we work with them to help curate their collection on our platform so that it's in line with our customers and fit with our brand.
Do you have any personal favorite labels we should be watching out for?
We have so many!! We honestly love each and every brand we have on the site. They have been poached and curated for a reason. We wanted to make sure that we create and invite brands that we ourselves would want to shop from - our current favorites now are Cocora, because it’s beach season in Dubai, and she has gorgeous beachwear and swimsuits, as does Villa Yasmine. House of Bedouins has beautiful T-shirts, which aren’t always easy to come by. The linen and hand loomed cotton dresses from Nina Leuca are gorgeous. We also love the yoga mats from Prickly Pear, we have stunning cushions from Dodo Cushions, and much more.
What can we expect from Kinzzi in the near future?
We have so much planned for Kinzzi - the ideas are endless. We want to continue building the platform and the community so that we become a prime destination for independent and smaller brands and designers. We hope that consumers will immediately think of us when they want to find unique and distinct finds, and also when they want to support these small businesses, artists and designers. We will continue to improve our processes and offerings and continue growing our community. We will also be rolling out our social impact initiative, which aims to shed light on non-profit small creative businesses that work towards empowering communities, women, children, and the environment.