For years, when searching for a cool-looking notebook or binder, you were forced to buy one that was imported. However, with the renewal of Egyptian startups and entrepreneurs, the stationary scene started to change. Instead of ugly patterns and bulky paper, Egyptian companies are taking a more creative approach, enticing buyers to go Egyptian.
One of those companies is Ink, founded in 2010 by AUC-ians Nihal Mahmoud and Janan Shihadeh. “They both love stationery and felt there was room in Egypt’s market for a trendy, good quality and affordable product,” said Nehal Moukhtar, Ink’s marketing manager. She explained how the two partners make up the successful equation that is Ink: “Janan is a decorative artist and an expert in decoupage while Nihal, with her passion for business development and creation, made this partnership very successful.”
Ink’s designs are created by young Egyptian designers and through their recent design competition they are actively seeking more designers to join their team. “The idea for the design competition, which was recently launched on our Facebook page, came after a meeting with the Ink team. It sounded fun for Ink to be interactive with our clients and involve them in our design process,” said Moukhtar.
The theme for the competition was everything Egyptian. “We decided to celebrate Egyptian history and chose the theme of modernised, ancient Egyptian patterns, which sounded both fun and patriotic at the same time,” she said. Young designer Khadiga Salem was the winner of the competition and Moukhtar described Salem’s design as Pharaonic yet psychedelic.
Ink pays a lot of attention to the design of each item, making sure that it looks attractive, trendy and cool. After all, their main target buyers are big on everything that is cool: “Our targets markets are high school students, university students, and young executives,” Moukhtar said.
While their products are available in virtually every major bookstore Moukhtar admits that Ink also depends on social media. “We cannot deny the huge impact that Facebook has on our business and other startups like us. So yes, we do depend on Facebook to establish our brand and connect with our clients,” she said.
Ink’s collection is not just about pretty notebooks; it is also about quality and providing a product that fits with the customer’s lifestyle. Ensuring that the paper used is of high quality is also a priority. “Most of the paper used is 80gm paper that provides a sturdy good quality for writing,” Moukhtar said.
Ink is also environmentally-aware: “We produce a recycled line, including binders and block notes, trimmed with colourful linen to add a touch of pizzazz,” Moukhtar said. Elaborating on the recycled line, she explained why it is important to be on top of societal trends: “We feel the recycled line has a great future as people are increasingly becoming more environmentally aware.”
The company is moving towards societal involvement. Moukhtar explained: “One of our goals for the coming year is to collaborate with NGO Nahdet el Mansoria for Development and give a portion of our profits to education, specifically supporting their stationery needs.”