As all readers of grapeshisha know, we like a good tech startup, especially one with Middle Eastern roots, so it was a breath of fresh air to stumble upon Ananasa, a quasi Etsy slash notonthehighstreet curated Middle Eastern store full of wonderful goods, that it's like an online Aladdin's cave. But enough of the stereotypes, this is a fantastic site with much potential hoping to ride on the wave of ecommerce for the region and the lure of global demand of hand made traditional items. We caught up with the founders of Ananasa to get the lowdown on their view of the business. Could this be the next big thing in the Middle East?
Tell us a bit about the company - who you are, what do you do, how did you start?
We are two sisters, Zaina and Rania Kanaan who moved to Dubai 2 years ago from Montreal, Canada. In Canada we had both graduated with Commerce degree's from McGill university and had worked in the corporate field thereafter. Zaina's side hobby was painting, in Canada she would exhibit, but moving to Dubai there appeared to be some obstacles for emerging artists to showcase their work. That is precisely how Ananasa came to be, we wanted to give people like Zaina the opportunity to create their own virtual store and spread their handmade items across the world. Ananasa is for anyone who has a talent and is serious and passionate about it. It gives them the chance to manage a virtual store front of what they love. Ananasa takes care of the logistics so they can keep doing what they are doing and be able to sell their work to the world.
So are you an Etsy for the Middle East?
Very similar! We give artisans and originators the chance to set up an online store on Ananasa for free, we hear their stories and allow them to talk about themselves. But our main focus is on the beauty of Middle Eastern Artisans or people located in this region. Ananasa's main aim is to get all that is handmade in the Middle East out to the world, while minimizing the obstacles our artisans face.
How does it work? - If i wanted to buy something, what's the process? The process is extremely simple. After you select an item you like on the site, you add it to your cart. Aramex shipping is embedded on the site, whereby depending on your location and the ship to address, the system will determine the shipping cost you'd need to pay. You can pay through paypal, credit cards or cashu. All three payment methods are of course highly secure and protect your information. Once the payment is completed your product is shipped and you can receive it at the comfort of your home. We also leave room for communication between the buyer and the seller. We believe the more open the communication all throughout the process, the more piece of mind both the buyer and seller have.
So I could buy authentic Middle Eastern or Arabian Art, whether I was in London, New York, Paris, Shanghai Mumbai or Dubai?
You can buy any item we have posted on
Ananasa. We have a variety of categories ranging from accessories, furniture , Art, edibles, clothes. We believe each item is made by an artist and therefore each item is an art piece. We ship internationally for all our selling members.
Have you got some favourite artefacts you wanted to highlight?
So hard to tell. We absolutely love every piece on Ananasa and are proud to have so much handmade talent in the Middle East. We get inspired everyday by the stories of the artists/designers/crafters we come across. they are all beautiful in their own unique way, and they together make Ananasa what it is.
What's the big dream - where do you want to be in 3 years?
We see Ananasa around the world. We see the Middle Eastern handmade items on Ananasa around the world in every home. We see Ananasa supporting the handmade community and artists in this region. Hopefully the stories of our members and their items will inspire many more artists and artisans to follow their passion and keep creating more beautiful work. We hope by encouraging this community of artisans more people are aware of the communities and jobs these artisans help.
How's the first few months been?
Very interesting! we have been receiving very good feedback, people love being part of Ananasa, they believe in it and in our vision. The store owners on Ananasa associate themselves with it and believe in it's success. They give it as much love as they do producing their items and Ananasa is thriving on that. We welcome all feedback as it makes Ananasa better and stronger, at the end of the day Ananasa is made for all the people who appreciate custom and rare, so their support these few months have been what makes us work harder.
If I make handmade items is it convenient for me to set up an online store through Ananasa?
Very. All you need to do is get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will reply back. It's a matter of registering on www.ananasa.com, adding your profile information and then launching your online store by uploading your items. We have a very comprehensive help section that could assist, but if you prefer to hear a warm voice, we can definitely do that as well. The convenient part, is opening a store is for no charge at all, if you make a sale Ananasa will retain a percentage of sale to process the payment.
Finally - what does Ananasa mean?
We are asked this a lot and happy to clarify it. "Ana" means "I" in Arabic, "Nas" means "People", Ananasa is all about the store owner and the people. the "A" at the end, makes the word feminine in Arabic, we are two very proud females and so we wanted the name to represent that femininity. Ananasa is the home for handmade and each one of its artisans is for the people.