When a Lebanese jewellery brand rethinks its business model
Lebanese jewellery brand ALANINA decides to take its business online, after joining We-Fi
With the support of ecomConnect, Nina Mourad, a Lebanese fine jewellery designer, started her e-commerce journey to target worldwide customers.
The COVID-19 health crisis radically changed consumer habits. In Lebanon, most shops and small businesses without an online presence were forced to close.
With selling online now a necessity, small businesses need to develop a successful e-commerce strategy.
The ITC-World Bank Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) in Lebanon is part of a regional initiative that use e-commerce to expand market access for women-led small businesses. Participants receive practical advisory support to help them improve their e-commerce business.
For Nina Mourad, who created her ALANINA jewellery brand in 2016, We-Fi made her realize that she needed to sell online. Although she has a degree in commerce, Mourad’s work experience was in banking. But she had theoretical knowledge that she deepened under the mentorship of Elvira El Hojeiri, the project's advisor.
In addition to the pandemic, Lebanon’s economic situation was not good. Mourad said she was on the verge of giving up everything.
"I felt kind of trapped. Sales were extremely low. Suddenly all exhibitions were postponed or cancelled. Our confidence in the banking sector was shaken, as payment methods stopped,” she said. “We became a cash-based economy. The devaluation of our currency and hyperinflation made things even worse, so the trading conditions were difficult for any business."
The Women's Initiative for E-Commerce programme has completely transformed Mourad’s business model, but it has also transformed her mindset. Even though she shopped online herself, she never thought she could sell her high-end jewellery online.
“This programme changed my perspective,” she said. “Elvira made me realize that I had to have an online presence as well as a physical one. So we started to transform the status quo.”
Successfully opening an online jewellery store requires writing a good business plan to maximise the chances of long-term success. The business plan is, in a way, a 360-degree analysis of selling jewellery on the internet. A complete and well-structured plan increases the chances of success.
Designing a plan for e-commerce success
With Elvira’s help, Nina designed a two-year action plan transforming her entire business model into a very solid one for e-commerce. On a personal level, Nina said she has regained confidence in herself and her business.
“Always finding solutions to our problems instead of giving up or running away has been a huge lesson for me,” she said.
Nina is also part of SheTrades Dubai accelerator that supports income generation and job creation for women-owned businesses. This also helped her refine her strategy through courses in photography, content creation and social media strategy.
“Each mentor was a specialist in his area and had years of experience in the fashion and jewellery industry,” she said. “This definitely helped me to see and understand the industry through their eyes."
Today, Nina has designed a complete collection of 40 pieces for ALANINA to sell online. She has done a photoshoot targeting her audience, reviewed her brand identity, optimised ALANINA’s Instagram profile, and is currently working on the development of her e-commerce website with the support of the We-Fi project.