There’s nothing more great then when you have one women supporting and encouraging her female entrepreneur colleagues. Sonia Staali does exactly that. Supporting female entrepreneurs from around the world, she features and sells their products in her store. Boutique Binetna is an online e-commerce that features products from women artists in North Africa. Strong supporter of female entrepreneurship, Sonia has made it her mission to help women artists grow their business by showcasing them on her e-commerce for the whole world to see. We love it when we have women entrepreneurs who go out of their way to support other women entrepreneurs. When we work together and support one another, we have more chances for survival and success. This week, Sonia took some time to answer our questions and let us know what was her inspiration to start her e-commerce business.
BWR: What inspired you to launch your online boutique?
Sonia: After my studies in Communications, I decided to go on a 4-month trip. I took this opportunity to take the time to learn more about my culture. I’m half Moroccan and half Tunisian, born and raised in Montreal. After this trip, I came back having this idea of telling the stories and showcasing the work of the artisans I had met there. It wasn’t clear yet, but I had this idea and I needed to explore it. After my research, I realized that some traditional know-how tends to disappear. So I thought of this concept as a way to preserve it. I’ve always been inspired by my travels and people. I love meeting new people, hearing their stories and learning about their experiences and knowledge.
Right now, Boutique Binetna it’s an online boutique that gathers 6 different artists. I see Boutique Binetna becoming a platform where we can gather a community of artisans and art lovers.
BWR: How do you go about choosing the products you sell?
Sonia: The main mission of Boutique Binetna is to bring together creators and craftsmen from North Africa and the diaspora. In the beginning, I did a lot of research to find unique pieces. But also pieces that can be reused. For me, «l’artisanat» is more than beautiful, it’s also practical. Many of the objects can be use in different manners. Take the fouta for example. It’s mainly used as a towel but can also be used as a tablecloth. To me, that’s the beauty of art.
BWR: What’s your goal? What are you hoping to accomplish through your online boutique?
Sonia: It’s to promote artisans and designers who don’t necessarily have visibility or the chance to participate at events. There’s a lot of talent out there and my goal is to put the light on each and every one of them!
BWR: What would you say is the most challenging part of owning an e-commerce?
Sonia: The overall experience I would say. It’s hard to create a similar experience as what you have when you visit a boutique. It’s probably the reason why I created my series of events called Mini Souk. These are pop-up events where I showcase different pieces of different artists. I also add Montreal artists and workshops to have more fun! It’s actually a lot of work but I love doing events!
BWR: Who’s been your biggest supporter?
Sonia: I would say, my sister. She always has my back no matter what. During this whole process and in life as well. When you launch your business, you kind of need a support system to navigate through the instability of being an entrepreneur and the choices you make. Because my sister is also an entrepreneur, she gives me the best tips… even though I always disagree! After all, we’re sisters! She is my biggest supporter and I’m so grateful to have her.
BWR: How do you deal with competition?
Sonia: I think the best way to see it is they can become an opportunity to collaborate. Obviously, you have to be aware who the big players are. But the important thing is to focus on the concept. To think about what you can reinvent or do something new. The best way to reinvent is by collaborating with other entrepreneurs. But, you have to choose them wisely!
BWR: What has been your biggest accomplishment to date? What are you most proud of?
Sonia: I’m actually proud of this whole process. I never thought I would be an entrepreneur. I’m usually the shy person who doesn’t want attention when in a group. With this experience, it taught me that, no matter what people say, I have my place. If I work for it, there’s no one that can say I don’t deserve it. Recently, someone thought that I was working full time in my boutique. The reality is that I do have a job. The fact that she thought that is maybe how well the business is presented. That makes me very proud! Also, whenever people tell me they love the concept, they support me. To me, it’s mission accomplished!
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BWR: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Sonia: I see many collaborations and many events around the world. Nothing less! Like the art from all over the world, North African handcraft has its place and is not very well-known. I would also like to expand by adding Middle Eastern artists to the platform. Maybe have a boutique… or two! Sky is the limit!