This week we celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship and each day we will highlight a different homegrown company, because SMEs are on the front line and the first to be hit by any economic changes.
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Dubai’s economy, representing 95% of all establishments in the Emirate. These SME businesses account for 42% of the workforce and contribute around 40% to the total value add generated in Dubai’s economy.
We hope our features will inspire you to #golocal and support small businesses. Do get in touch if you are a homegrown company with a sustainable edge and we will add you to our directory.
#staysafe #stay connected and #golocal
Q&A with David Hammond – Managing Director Drawdeck and #supportlocalDXB
Drawdeck is a one stop shop for affordable wall art which started as a market pop up back in 2014 and now has partners in 3 continents. Managing Director, David Hammond has been financially affected by the pandemic, he is however excited about the possibilities of a digital future for the art world and how it can reach a wider audience who may never have had the chance to experience different types of art before. David also recently started #supportlocalDXB, a directory created to raise awareness about small and medium homegrown businesses.
Drawdeck started as a pop up at a local market back in 2014, can you tell me your story and how it has grown to now having partners in 3 continents?
When we made the decision to commercialise Drawdeck we had the pop-up shops with a very basic online platform back in 2014. Our plan was always be online however we had no budget for marketing, we pretty much did every market and event that we could to get awareness and get some sales in. This opened a few doors for the B2b side and slowly built up awareness for the brand. Myself and Alex were doing everything back then from selling, delivering, sourcing, designing, marketing and the accounts however it led to more of a sustainable growth for us where we now have grown into fulfilling orders across the UAE and in Australia.
The early morning pop up shop starts really did help build a strong work culture, which we now still keep running through Drawdeck, Drawdeck Studio and Draft. I don’t think anything really can grow and prosper without some form of hard work.
The art market has taken a huge hit due to the pandemic, what do you see as the future of art galleries and could this pave the way for a new approach to buying art?
The pandemic has accelerated changes that were already taking place I think, artwork will always have an impact on you when you see it in person. However, many people before the pandemic couldn’t visit physical locations and used different online platforms to share their artwork and check out different forms. There might be fewer fairs, at least physical ones, and the rise of online initiatives as audiences get comfortable with consuming culture and buying art online. It’s actually an exciting time regarding how we can move forward digitally and not completely be frozen with Covid19.
What challenges have you encountered due to the pandemic?
The main challenge is cash flow, it’s hard enough getting paid on time with our commercial projects in Dubai let alone in a pandemic when projects are cancelled or put on hold.
The main thing is to bring in as much cash as we can from previous finished jobs and expand our online presence, so we can keep moving forward and most importantly keep paying our artists so they have cash to keep creating.
What does the world/Dubai look like post pandemic?
I’m hoping the world will come through the other side in a positive light, and appreciate what we actually have with our family and friends.
Travel will be greatly affected which will have a impact on Dubai as it is a huge revenue generator for all of us. The world will need to be more flexible; this could hopefully lead further investment in SME’s, a decrease in red tape costs and a push towards creating more digital industries and e-commerce.
We are of course really happy to see you have implemented sustainable practices in to your business, can you tell me about these and why you chose to do so?
We work with One Tree Planted, a non-profit dedicated to global reforestation. Their mission is to reforest the planet, one tree at a time. They work with partners in North America, South America, Asia, Africa & Australia to get more trees in the ground. They also raise awareness about the importance of trees, help businesses like ours offer sustainable solutions, and motivate younger generations to do something positive for the environment. So, for every print sold on Drawdeck $1 is donated that helps plant 1 tree.
Let’s talk about #supportlocalDXB, can you tell be how this started and why?
It came about 8 weeks ago, and just something that we thought might help through this pandemic and beyond to create awareness for small to medium homegrown businesses. By creating a very simple and easy to use directory that you can jump on too and hopefully use. There are now so many home-grown brands in Dubai which need support.
How do companies apply and be part of the directory, what is the criteria?
Simple email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can send you further information, then it takes us a day to get you online.
Realistically, how can local businesses thrive in a market filled with huge multinational companies?
The good thing about being a local and smaller company is that you can be nimbler and more flexible, listen to the market and then use your strengths to fulfil what the market or consumer wants by keeping your ear to the ground. That’s how we started Draft because we were being contacted to frame people’s own photographs, hence we built an online framing shop.
Do you think consumers will now be readdressing their spending habits by thinking more consciously about what they buy and from whom, will we see a shift away from the global and towards the local brands?
Yes, thinking about where you get your products or services from not only helps the local economy but also the environment as we can start reducing our carbon foot print on goods and become a lot less sufficient on flying and shipping everything in.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
Supporting local means that you care about the community that you live in. You’ll be able to put money back into your community and the other people who call it home, too. Also, if you head to the big corporations, shopping local is going to offer you unique products that help bring character to the commercial world.
What are your Eid plans?
Resting up at home with a few social distancing walks.
Can you share with us any sustainable practices you implement in to your daily life?
We try to do simple measures like using keep cups and other reusable items to reduce our plastic consumption and we are very conscious about our energy consumption both at the office and at home; taking just small steps to be more eco-friendly can go a long way in reducing your environmental impact.
Disclaimer: These articles are not ads neither paid features.