Finding local design talent can be a daunting task in Egypt. There is Facebook and its endless pages of up-and-coming designers, there are always those few friends who seem to be in the know, and then there is CIRQY.
“CIRQY is an online marketplace for designers and artists”, said Kareem El-Shaffei who co-founded the website with his college friend Mostafa Talaat, also known for being a member of the popular band Like Jelly. The two friends are also co-founders of the film festival Future Shorts Egypt and they left the corporate world to start CIRQY.
“CIRQY is not just an e-commerce platform but a social network; people can follow their favourite stores, they can collect, share and like items for their friends to see. It is about the artist getting their name out there,” said El-Shaffei.
Artists have stores on CIRQY and instead of having to scour many different social networks, CIRQY created one of its own that is dedicated for this specific purpose.
El-Shaffei said that what sets CIRQY apart from other e-commerce platforms is this social aspect, “It means that CIRQY can act as a self-promoting tool. The discovery aspect for designers is a big incentive to join, and it is what we are built upon. We also offer diversity in our content.”
CIRQY’s products are categorised into art, apparel, accessories, home, and stuff but each store gets a say in how their designs are displayed,
“On other websites artists have no control over how they display their own things,” said
Kareem El-Shaffei, something we agree defeats the point of displaying design.
“Here they can post links to their website, Facebook pages, Twitter and Pinterest accounts as well as organise how the products are displayed and add their logo or brand,” he said.
CIRQY does not require a fee to display products, “we make money when the designers make money; we do not charge them for displaying their products. Our commission fee is lower than other websites and we do not take stock. We believe that the original owner of the product is most capable of taking care of it. Beyond that we offer a paid spot on the home page.”
With a motto like, “discover freshly-made design”, Talaat and El-Shaffei knew the website had to aesthetically reflect their philosophy. “We looked into how colours are used on websites and found that red and orange are used for websites that want visitors to act or take action, such as Pinterest where the point is to pin,” said El-Shaffei.
“Blue on the other hand, makes you think before you act and that is what Facebook and Twitter, which need more text and interaction, use. We tried to position ourselves in the middle, as an e-commerce platform but also as a social network, so we went with a neutral teal but kept the buy buttons in orange,” he said.
El-Shaffei said CIRQY plans on expanding, “for example, we are going to introduce premium accounts for stores, so you can get information on what kind of person visits your page and other perks. We plan on implementing international shipping and expanding to stores in other Arab countries.”
Aptly named from the word “circus”, CIRQY has everything from kites to origami hair clips and is rife with pop-culture references. Its quirky and fresh content and its distinctive bear logo will no doubt attract many people on the lookout for new local talent and their design products.