Art has the power to express ideas, bring communities together and even change society. It transcends boundaries and carries the shared stories, culture, and history of a community. While art is manifested through different mediums it remains an expression of the collective and personal consciousness. These musings lead us to evaluate the impact and importance of preserving folkloric and traditional forms of artistic expression especially those which carry the heritage of indigenous communities.
One such Palestinian concerned with the value and implications of traditional art forms is Dara Jarallah. With a background and specialization in Entrepreneurship and Strategy and Professional Communication from Canada’s Ryerson University, as well as a Master’s degree in Global Business, Dara decided to bring traditional folkloric art forms to the forefront by establishing her own specialized ecommerce destination shoppinglee.com.
Ingrained in the culture of startups and innovation, Dara was motivated to take on the startup scene with Shoppinglee. As such, while still in Canada, Dara became an active participant in the startup scene and took part in a variety of incubators to propel her idea into a reality and transform the lives of thousands of Palestinians. As a result, Dara was able to expand her experience in the startup scene and benefit from consultations and strategic business advice from international based business experts to take her startup to the next level.
Founded in 2017, Shoppinglee is an ecommerce platform which connects local artisans specialized in folkloric art forms to the international market. Dara explains, “With Shoppinglee, I am working to create a community of self-sufficient Palestinian artists especially women, to have the platform to sell high quality arts and crafts to international markets.” She continues, “Shoppinglee is more than just an ecommerce site, its core business model revolves around social sustainability, development and bringing pride to Palestinian artists.” Shoppinglee currently consists of founder and CEO Dara, and a team of 3 international volunteers who works towards developing the digital platform and expanding services.
Motivated to find arts and crafts representing the culture and folklore of Palestine, led Dara to connect with the Business Women Forum in Ramallah. As a result, Dara was able to find some of the most passionate and skilled local artisans that work tirelessly to produce the highest quality traditional Palestinian arts and crafts.
Tapping into global trends which has become dominated by consumers who take ethical considerations seriously Shoppinglee aims to propel ethical considerations to the forefront and make people pay attention to how their products are produced, “People do not want to buy things that are mass produced by companies which force their workers to work under inhumane conditions,” Dara explains. She adds, “Instead consumers are seeking products ethical products that are high quality, and most especially in which workers are treated with dignity and are able to earn a sustainable livelihood.”
In addition to Shoppinglee’s online platform, featured artists and artisans are offered digital marketing consultation, logistical services and enhanced access to markets and supply chains. While Shoppinglee currently offers consumers the opportunity to buy high quality, authentic Palestinian arts and crafts, Dara explains that the next step focuses on digital art. Added features will ensure Shoppinglee’s sustainability, and includes services that allow artists to create their own profile on the platform and begin to create and sell their own digital art.
With Shoppinglee, Dara aims to continue to evolve and develop the platform to empower artists, artisans and crafters alike by providing online support for artists and illustrators, including trainings in digital art production technologies like Photoshop. Dara further explains, “This feature has great potential, there are so many talented Palestinian artists that will be able to tell their stories through their arts to international markets and develop their professional portfolios as freelancers.” In addition, this digital art component solves shipping issues by coordinating with international print shops and logistic solutions to print and deliver selected illustrations and art works in various dimensions as well as mediums.
Working towards acquiring strategic resources, networks and exposure, Dara aims to scale up Shoppinglee to expand her team to further develop the technical infrastructure of the platform as well as to feature additional female artisans and incorporate the digital art component.
In terms of impact, Dara maintains that it is important to remember that challenges inspire innovation, “We are a resilient community, through our traditional art we are telling a story and preserving our culture and heritage.” And finally, “What is so unique about Shoppinglee is its universal message of empowerment, by sharing traditional and folkloric arts we give it value and celebrate the women who put their hearts into their crafts!”
To find out more visit, https://www.shoppinglee.com
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