Small businesses have been sprouting up all around Cairo during the past two years. Every hip neighbourhood in the city has seen its share of new bakeries, restaurants and cafes. As exciting as it is to have new places to go to on the weekend, sometimes it all seems a bit much.
Luckily, some Egyptians are taking a different approach to business, and the country has witnessed a growth of Internet-based small businesses. An online business ensures that the running costs are significantly low, hours are flexible and that the owner is easily available for inquiries or requests.
One of those online businesses worth checking out is Lily Joolz, an online jewellery store operated by Amanda Badawy.
Badawy created Lily Joolz in 2012 and offers a creative collection of jewellery inspired mostly by Egyptian heritage. Badawy’s obsession with jewellery began early: “As a child I used to sneak into my mother’s bedroom, try on her jewellery and play in front of the mirror.” On her Facebook page, Badawy describes her products as: “Jewellery created with semi precious and not so precious stones with real silver, or accessories according to the client’s budget.”
Badawy made her passion for jewellery making a reality when she took some courses while living in the United Kingdom. She is very specific about the materials she uses in her creations: “I use top quality silver which I get from a supplier in Cairo. I also use semi-precious stones such as jade, quartz and onyx for their healing properties.” She stressed that she obtains all her materials from Cairo-based manufacturers: “I prefer to support the local market.”
For her inspiration, Badawy depends on jewellery of the past: “I research different periods of history and study the jewellery of the time.” However, her design process does not end there. After extracting inspiration from the jewellery of yesteryear, she depends on her own vision to complete the designs. “I doodle and draw different designs until I create something I feel I would like to make,” she explained.
She also involves other people in her design process: “I sit with my silver supplier and work on designs with his input.” She admitted to being adamant on getting input from people around her: “I generally harass my husband and mother.”
Badawy also depends on the customers to tell her what they would like to wear. When asked whether she would design something specifically for customers, she replied: “Yes, of course, this is what I mainly do.”
Her most successful design to date is “the two finger silver ring of the palm and eye, with Italian enamel paint,” she said.
Badawy mainly depends on Facebook and Twitter to market her products. In addition, she participates in events and open days.