Table of Contents:
Chapter 1 | How we met
Chapter 2 | In Cairo's workshop
Chapter 3 | From Lamyaa
As a child I was fascinated by Egyptian history. "Pharaoh" by Boleslav Proust was and is my favorite book; and to visit Egypt was on my bucket list. Years later my dream of Egypt came to life in more than just a trip. It became a partnership of a lifetime and a transformative journey I owe to an incredible Egyptian woman. Her name is Lamyaa.
Chapter 1 | how we met
My first communication with Lamyaa was over WhatsApp about 2 years ago after an introduction from my Egyptian oil maker friend.
The selection was down to two artisans groups to get started on Katari handmade glass project. Both groups had great products and great recommendations. Quality was similar, prices too. This is where I could either hit a jackpot or ruin my project. I hit a jackpot because I picked Lamyaa - the ONLY person I can ever imagine doing this project with.
I have to tell you WHY I made a decision to go with Lamyaa. It was because of how she talked. As a trained psycholinguist, I pick on voices, intonation patters, and semantics. Integrity is one word that comes to mind if I have to summarize Lamyaa. She was not overpromising. She told me what can and cannot be done and how long it will all take. She was strong and she handled it with such grace too. She was simply unfallable.
It was time to make the trip to Egypt to meet in person and finalize it all.
Chapter 2 | in cairo's workshop
As we drove from our hotel near the pyramids in Cairo (not to be seen because of very poor air quality) to the other side of town through horrific daily traffic, we got to the ourskirts of town to Lamyaa's workshop.
Goats, kids, garbage, half-built houses, a field somewhere on the horizon lined with palm trees... and then I walked into the workshop and I forgot where I was.It was not because the place was so beautiful.
On contrary, it was what you would expect from a working workshop - glass everywhere, light music, smell of fresh coffee. But then I saw my beautilful bottles and jars sitting there waiting for me. The time stopped. The dream just came true. This dream would not be possible without this one person - Lamyaa.
This is how katari packaging is made
Chapter 3 | From Lamyaa
I asked Lamyaa for years now to write a little something about her. Finally I got a little bio from her and I want to share it so that you can feel what it means to be a sucessful business person and a woman, leading dozens of glassmakers (most of them are men) in a male-dominated society.
Here is from Lamyya:
Hi, I am Lamyaa, a co-founder of Egyptian handmade glass company. We founded it 5 years ago. In fact, this magnificent industry was transferred to me by my uncle, he was the godfather of this industry. I used to work with him since I was 18 years old, while was studying at Faculty of Tourism and hotels and continued to work with him for 10 years. I obtained superior technical knowledge. Yet, I felt there is something missing. I quit and joined a different career.
During that time, I challenged myself to improve my sales and marketing skills. So, I obtained a diploma in marketing and MBA as well. This added a lot to my skills and the way I think about doing business. I always believe, the world is full of infinite possibilities and countless opportunities. So, at the age of 40, I decided to venture into my business and start a new challenge in my life. It was too tough, pressuring, ups and downs.
This continued for 2 years, being a woman working with craftsmen with different mentalities and attitudes wasn’t easy. To discipline and teach them about commitment and the importance of creating quality products was big issue. Slowly, I managed to build a very strong and long-lasting connection with my workers being as one family. I thought them that every member has important role in our business. Another challenge was marketing and sales.
It was compelling to create good business profile and unique products, picking photos of every product we produce, over 500 items. Even to find the correct photographer to undertake the task was a headache and sure too expensive. Searching for the right and cost-effective marketing channels and effective tool was a panic. Reaching out to customers, building credibility with a lot of communications and product trials to deliver their need was the most important and challenging matter. It took long time to build our customer base and grow our business together.