My name is Kariman. I was born and raised in Tulkarem. A couple of years ago, I started my own busienss "Tulkarem Crochet." I make and sell all types of crocheted products including but not limited to clothes, house accessories, hair accessories, and bookmarks. Whenever a customer wants to order a specific, customized product, I happily make it for them whatever it may be.
My mother taught me how to crochet when I was very young, so I have always had the skills but for a long time never knew how much I could do with it. Years later, when my nephew was born I decided to make him baby clothes using crochet techniques I learned from my mother. When people saw my work, they were amazed and asked if I could crochet clothes for their children as well. Seeing their positive reaction to my work encouraged me for the first time to see this skill as a business opportunity. I took the first step by making an online page for my business to take customized orders, and soon after I participated in local handicraft exhibitions held by the local Chamber of Commerce and the Palestinian Working Women's Society.
While my business was slowly improving, I knew that I needed to gain professional trainings in business development in order for it to continue to grow into a sustainable, profitable endeavor. When I heard about TYO's project for supporting Palestinain women entrepreneuers, I jumped at the opportunity and joined the program, and I have not looked back since.
Since joining TYO's entrepreneurshup rprogram, I have benefitted in countless ways. Before joining the program, I used to work on each crocheted item alone, and it would take me hours to complete a single piece. The time I spent on each piece and selling at a cost comparable to market prices just was not sustainable. Through a business development training I took at TYO, I noticed that having partners to work with me on large orders or throughout a heavy workload would help me keep the business running at the right pace during high demand. I now have 2-3 partners working with me, and it has been extremely beneficial for my business.
The increase in productivity has helped me maintain recurring customers and attract some new ones, too. Through the branding and marketing trainings offered by TYO, I also learned the importance of not only marketing my product, but also marketing myself as an entrepreneur. I learned how much choosing an effective and professional business name, logo, and slogan could advance my business's image and improve sales.
Last November, I had the opportunity to participate in TYO's "Entrepreneur and More" exhibition, which helped me on so many levels. The timing was perfect, as it was the start of winter and there was a high demand on my products so I was able to make many sales. Also, participating alongside many other handicraft businesses meant that the exhibition attracted customers specifically interested in handmade, high quality products and therefore helped me target the market I had been seeking. Following the exhibition, my customer base noticeably increased. That week, I had more than 300 new active followers on my business page who placed many customized orders after seeing more of my work online. Furthermore, upon seeing my products at the exhibition, a major Nablus retailer requested that I produce 100 crocheted rugs for the store in addition to crocheting pillow covers in the future. It was the first time I received an order of that size from a large retailer, and at that point I started to see how far I could really go with this business. Currently, I am even wokrking on orders to be sent outside of Palestine, one to a customer in Jordan and another to a customer in Lebanon.
After the exhibition, the visibility of my business increased, and along with it my trust in the quality of my products and confidence in myself as an entrepreneur, and as a woman. In return, customers also began to trust me and my work much more. Recently, I was interviewed by two local TV stations about my business and experience as a woman entrepreneur in Palestie. I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak about being an entrepreneur and how that how impacted my life on both a professional and personal level.
Most of all, this project has been such a self-esteem boost. I am more confident now after starting my own business and seeing that I could increase my business's potential through basic business development trainings and coachings. I used to doubt whether I could be like other businesswomen, particualrly in communication with customers. But now, I am confident that I can maintain and grow the great relationship I have built with current customers, and moreover I can use what I've learned this year to grow my customer base.