She’s got the look

Originally published online, and in print, for JustHere.

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Thobe or not Thobe, that is the question.

I’m not quite sure that works Mr Shakespeare, but you have nailed one of the reasons why BYLENS was set up.

I have?

You have. The difference between a Qatari thobe and Emirati thobe is huge. Most companies in Qatar use similar photos in their ads and you can tell that the model is not Qatari.

Does this matter?

Well, if you’re a Qatari business you probably want to give the correct image of Qatar and Qatari people. Most online photo libraries use Emirati models.


I did not know that.

Well, you do now.

There must be loads of other people doing this kind of thing.

Apparently not.  Whilst other sites like iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Arabian Eye and Corbis Images exist, their focus is different. In our field there aren’t that many competitors, we currently have a huge stock of photos that are ready for sale, and we can also customise a photo shoot if the client requests it.

So there is a real gap in the market?

Yes, but that wasn’t the only reason we set up our own business. People choose to become entrepreneurs for many reasons. We were unsatisfied working for someone else. We had a desire to be our own bosses and lead our own company.

I bet it’s tough at the top though?

It can be. The greatest fear we had when starting our business was the instability of it all. The lack of revenue and not knowing whether we could make ends meet.

Sounds tough.

No doubt. Hard work aside, our solution was a simple one. We surrounded ourselves with people who would support us whether our business succeeded or failed. This gave us the room to build a business without worrying about what our peers were thinking.

Friends, they’ll be there for you. Even when the rain starts to fall.

Well, that doesn’t happen that often in Qatar, but I get your drift.

What other challenges did you face?

Finding people who would model, getting approvals from different locations, getting property release forms signed, and then spreading the word so that people would buy their photos.

Sounds exhausting! So how is BYLENS doing?

We have 25 returning customers and 11,193 followers on Twitter.

Not bad. What next?

We’re not short of ambition, that’s for sure. We are looking at expanding into international markets and franchising. If we have a successful business and can develop a system that ensures that others can duplicate our success, franchising may be the fast track for growing our business.

Watch out Donald Trump!

Inspired by an interview with Razan Suleiman, Founder and CEO of BYLENS.

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