Nabia and Sheheek have built a customer network in the UAE and in countries such as Canada, France, Belgium, Saudi Arabia and India Image Credit: Stefan Lindeque

From a young age, Nabia Rasshid has enjoyed exploring her talents in the field of art and craft. “Even the presents and cards I used to give were personalised and hand made by me,” says the Pakistan-born and Dubai-raised Nabia. So it was no surprise that she chose to pursue a career doing exactly what she enjoys – creating personalised gifts. Nabia Creates, a business she set up with her sister Sheheek offers heart-warming and personalised gifts for any occasion and reason. From wood engravings and Spotify glass art to gifts for festive occasions, they offer “something creative for everyone”.

Nabia, a Business major who’s specialised in Marketing, and her sister Sheheek a co-owner of the business who is currently pursuing her ACCA, admit that they have learnt a lot from their parents on how to run a business. “Learning is an ongoing process, especially in the sense of improving our business.” says Nabia.

Excerpts from an interview with Nabia:

Was it difficult convincing your family of your entrepreneurial plans?

When I initially started, considering I was selling an illustration that took 12 hours to make for only $5 on fiverr.com, my mom was a little concerned. I assured her to keep her faith in me, and that I was just following their footsteps.

When my mum gave off my first corporate order she realised that I was on the right path. Sheheek and I are so thankful to our family for always being there for us. They’re the ones who stay up late with us to fill orders and even today do not hesitate to step out and deliver gifts to our clients in case one of our team members is too busy.

When and what inspired you to start this business? How big is your team?

From a very young age I’ve loved doing art and craft. Making gifts by hand and personalising them in some way were things I truly enjoyed and was keen to perfect. My inspiration was born, and I just converted it into a business after seeing a large market gap for affordable personalised gifts. We are a team of 10-12 people divided into production, customer service, marketing, digital marketing, graphics and content writing, production and execution.

Do you deliver gifts overseas as well?

Oh yes. We deliver within the UAE as well as internationally. We’ve delivered to countries like Canada, France, Belgium, Saudi Arabia and India!

What are some of the challenges you faced when setting up the business?

With any business there are challenges. But I suppose as you start climbing the ladder, the challenges start reducing. The biggest challenge was figuring out whether this project would work out and if there was a market for my dreams... whether my goals could turn into reality. Now, two years since I started, I can confidently say that I am on the right path to my goals.

How do you stay ahead of the competition?

Our operating principle is pretty simple: As long as you’re working hard and know what you’re doing is right, you need not worry about the competition. Of course, just as they keep an eye on us, we too monitor the competition to ensure that we are not missing out on any particular trend. We analyse the happenings in the market and tailor our gifts to suit the needs of our clients. We ensure we offer the best price, good quality as well as keep in mind the overall usefulness of the gift.

Which gift items are your top sellers?

Spotify art gifts come first. The different hamper boxes we make such as the bridesmaid’s, anniversary and birthday box are hugely popular. But after Ramadan the delight box took the number 1 position. I had to change the design and add to all released collections because it’s selling like hot cakes. What’s funny is that we initially made this for a wedding gift but since everyone loved it, it’s become a part of Nabia Creates now.

Do you review your product line and discontinue what does not work?

Yes, as the owner of a small business this needs to be done by the end of every week. But discontinuation is only done when we’re out of stock, otherwise somehow, somewhere, somebody buys a product out of a collection.  At Nabia Creates there are over 10 ways in which a product can be designed and gifted, so we keep everything in stock always.

Explain your concept to execution process for the various gifting options

Gifting is an art. I say it every time and I’ll say it again. It’s not easy to conjure up a personalised gift. Starting from brainstorming, to getting to know the receiver’s preferences, a lot goes into the cauldron of making an individual gift or a hamper. Once everything is finalised, the designing process begins and finally the production. But it does not end there, we package every gift as if it was our first, keeping in mind every minute detail. Then we wait to hear the response from the customer. The happiness they share because of giving or receiving a personalised gift is our best reward.

What next?

2022 is the year for Nabia Creates. We aim to be the best affordable gift shop there is, with options for every occasion. There are exciting collections like our first Raksha Bandhan gift collection. We are also looking to branch out into merchandise as well as exploring ways to support other small businesses. Our journey has only begun.

Visit nabiacreates.com to learn more about Nabia Creates.

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