I was born in the UK to a Lebanese mother and a Palestinian father. My father had a diplomatic post and because of that I spent most of my childhood in a number of countries in the Middle East, exposed to numerous cities that have their own unique culture and architecture.
This combination prepared me for my next phase, the one beyond schooling, where I became a career woman, a milestone that Dubai played a big role in. The UAE embraced me just when I embarked on my journey to become independent and learn how to further develop. It added some distinct marks that made me the person I am today.
I got to a point in my life where I felt that I wanted to take on a new venture, utilise my expertise in events management and my BA in Interior Design.
I wanted something unique, something that grows gradually and something I can control on my own, at least in the beginning. So, I decided to embark on creating and managing an online store.
At first, the idea seemed rather new and maybe avant-garde to some, especially most people that believe in the classic way that nothing will sell unless it’s on a shelf, but as soon as I delved deeper, I discovered the worldwide web is quickly filtering through our daily life and shopping online is becoming a habit that a wide range of people are turning to and picking up fast, because of the accessibility of the internet, credit cards, internet shopping and convenience.
I was determined that now is the right time for my venture creating a virtual shop. I wasn’t sure what to sell at first but then I thought I can’t go without a concept.
And it finally dawned on me; I will have a one of a kind custom-made collection of furniture and homewares with the core concept of 100% handmade. The products will be produced by independent designers and artisans from around the globe.
From there, I went on to educate myself about some basics of web development, and how to design a friendly and easy to use e-commerce site. I hunted for a web development company that meets my criteria and I became personally involved in every detail of each page on the site.
During the conception stage, I spent numerous hours searching for the right collection and developing a well organised database for my project.
Looking back at the time and effort put into this project, it was exhausting but the minute I started to receive feedback I was overjoyed and empowered to think bigger and do more.
I hope to bring change to this part of the world of forgotten priceless product designs. Handmade products have vanished over time and with all the mass produced items conquering our retail markets.
One is no more able to create an identity for his own except follow an existing one, and affordable furniture has been recently seen as commercial and perhaps of a lower quality. However, modern independently produced design widens our perspective and helps us merge talent, techniques and creativity.
At the moment, we have about 25 designers and 300 items onboard accumulated from around the globe along with one NGO from Morocco that has carved wooden bowls created by in-house artisans.
We are continuously striving to expand the list and invite designers from the MENA region to join. We want to become a local hub for emerging talent that have no platform to rise on. We offer free space for them to post their products and sell them through our site.
Design has proved it speaks one language and immeasurably contributes to the development of a nation. It brings distant cultures closer together and I am delighted with what I have started and hope to gradually grow in this field with the support of the local community.
Sarah Saleh is the founder and MD of Boxed. Visit www.boxedonline.com