25 year old entrepreneur Karima Saleh is the co-founder and owner of a popular scarf brand KaafMeem. She started the project a year ago with her partner and brother, Mayyar Saleh. Karima was born and raised in Jeddah, KSA and went on to study Interior Design at Dar Alhekma University, renowned for its support of young upcoming talent, as well taking an extra design course. Her day job in management consultancy allows her to exercise her creative abilities in the field as well as use that knowledge to boost her own business. In addition to working and managing a full time business, she is also a freelance fitness instructor at one of the biggest gyms in the kingdom. Talk about multitasking. We talk to Karima about how she got started.
Zatasha Kiran: You started your business a year ago and already have quite a following on Social Media. Tell us a little about your brand and how the idea for your business came about?
Karima Saleh: KaafMeem is a luxury headscarf brand based in the KSA. We provide high quality, fashionable headscarves for women.The idea came when we realized the need for this item. In addition to our experience in this field and specifically in the headscarf industry, we have to know a lot about the production and operation, and we studied the market and its needs; based on that we came with our solution.
ZK: What does your brand name stand for and how did you come up with it?
KS: The brand name is a combination of the initials of the founders names, Karima and Mayyar, in Arabic. We wanted to maintain a traditional yet edgy aura, and that’s why we chose Arabic.
ZK: You studied design at DAH, have you always had a creative side?
KS: I have loved arts and crafts since I was a kid, and I knew that I had this creative side that I needed to work on; that’s why I chose Interior Design. However, with time and while working on a small business project and participating in many events and organizations, I discovered the business part in myself and shifted to it while keeping the creative side for support and integration.
ZK: The fashion and clothing industry can be a challenge, what sets you apart from other companies like you?
KS: There are lots of fashion brands and companies in the local market here, but few only are specialized in headscarves. What also stands out in KaafMeem is the quality of our service and items. We always make sure that the customer experience is perfect to ensure having re-buyers and a good word of mouth.
ZK: Working three different jobs is no doubt time-consuming and stressful for anyone, how do you balance work and family?
KS: Work takes almost 75% of my time, and it’s not easy to change the hat you’re wearing between consultancy at the daytime, fitness instructor after work, and an entrepreneur in weekends and free time.
Leaving home at 9 am and reaching back at 9 pm is energy consuming, so by the time I reach home I am already exhausted. Anyhow, 2 hours of quality time with family after such a tiring day will release the stress and give some positive energy.. And of course, I get to have more quality family time during weekends which makes up for the tough week.
ZK: Speaking of family, what’s the best thing about working so closely with your brother?
KS: Working with family members is always challenging, but thank God it’s going well with my brother because he’s always been my mentor in business. We were able to manage a professional relationship at work and separate between personal and business issues.
ZK: Business is all about coming up with new, catchy, creative ideas to draw the customer in, how do you generate and come up with new ideas?
KS: We set a brainstorming session every month to come up with ideas that match the community and what’s happening around us to maintain a good performance by using modern marketing ways.
ZK: Who or what motivates and inspires you?
KS: Reading success stories and witnessing some always give us the hope to continue until we reach our goal. It’s not easy at all, but we see it happening.
ZK: Keeping the customer happy is the most important part of any business, how did you manage to build a successful customer base?
KS: As I mentioned before, what makes us special is the quality of service and product. We have 4 pillars for a happy customer.
1- Easy order: They can place an order through our online shop or our customer service and order through our whatsApp number. We are very flexible with the customers’ needs in order to serve their need.
2- Multiple payment methods: They have the option to pay by credit card(Visa/MasterCard), bank transfer, PayPal, or cash on delivery.
3- Quick Service: We make sure to answer all the customers immediately and deliver the orders as fast as possible to ensure high satisfaction.
4- Quality of product: They experience great quality of product that is hand made with love, packaged in a unique and clean way that impresses the customer.
ZK: What are the three key elements to starting and running a successful business?
KS: 1- The idea ( the value proposition) that will solve a problem, add value, or make people’s lives easier..
2- Research and feasibility study to ensure that this idea is actually needed, it will fit the society, and if it’s doable or not.
3- The knowledge and courage to start the business, make it successful, and keep it running.
ZK: What has been your most successful form of marketing and why?
KS: Marketing nowadays is shifting towards social media.. So, indeed social media and referrals are the best channel to market our brand now.
ZK: What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs trying to start a business?
KS: The earlier you start the better! Don’t wait for it but chase the chance, never give up, keep learning, don’t be afraid to make mistakes but learn from them, insist on success and think big until you reach your goal.
ZK: What’s next for KaafMeem?
KS: Let’s keep this as a surprise!