A coloring pen, a paper and a child’s imagination – that is what was needed to successfully position not only a lifestyle brand, but a fundraising one into the Egyptian markets, using children’s artistry to introduce peculiar artsy products.
Using simple, raw drawings and doodles created by children, The Doodle Factory, an Egyptian design-based brand, produces everyday lifestyle products that are later sold to fund those children’s needs.
Since March 2016, the company managed to fund 33 surgeries and is almost done with building a library in Al Ayat, located in Giza.
“We wanted to establish a self-sustainable project that doesn’t depend on donations or grants to help empower the children,” co-founder Yasmine Khamis says.
Co-founded with Farah El-Masry, the idea started off as a sort of fundraising campaign, after both Khamis and El-Masry were working on several projects in arts and crafts.
“We have both done a lot of research on crafting products and supplies in the market, alongside teaching children in El Sayeda Nafeesa about arts and crafts,” Khamis says. “Thus, the idea came about because of the circumstances around us at that moment.”
The bumps in the road
When asked about the obstacles they have faced when introducing the idea to the market, the know-how was definitely a hurdle. Putting the right investment and calculating all the financials alongside the legal and technical aspects, according to Khamis, were the main challenges.
The company funded 33 surgeries and is almost done with building a library
“There is no kind of ‘Startup 101’ to teach you the know-how of starting a business and all the legalities behind doing so,” she adds.
Starting with only $30 in their pilot project, the cycle of creating the product itself was the real hassle. “Given that me and Farah do not have a background in product design, we faced a lot of obstacles in the printing techniques to finally manufacture a neat product,” Khamis explains.
Social entrepreneurship as a key ingredient
The Doodle Factory’s marketing and communication manager Dina Hassan states that the age of their target audience ranges between 18 and 45 years, including millennials and young mothers.
“We approach the people who want to make a change in the world, and we consider them responsible shoppers as they have a sense of responsibility towards the world,” Hassan says.
Using their online platforms to reach their audience, like their website, Facebook and Instagram, along with being located in different stationary sections at stores like Virgin Megastores, Diwan Bookstore and ABnG, The Doodle Factory stands out with its unique selling point of narrating the story of a child.
“This design is created by a vulnerable child, who has a need, whether that is an operation or an educational need,” Hassan adds.
“Every product has a unique story for the child”
The process starts by choosing the cases the company will be funding and helping, and later organizing art sessions for the children to pour out their stories with drawings on papers. They then create different patterns from these drawings and apply them to different products, each narrating a certain message.
“The child’s drawings and doodles helps him heal in a way,” Hassan says, adding that “we then try to create a product that is practical and functional to satisfy our customers’ needs.”
The projects that The Doodle Factory supports come from trusted non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
“We choose the cases based on the NGOs and what they are currently working on,” Khamis elaborates.
The company’s latest collection is entitled “A Ticker’s Beat”, in partnership with the Waslet Kheir NGO dedicated to help funding two heart surgeries for two children.
The Doodle Factory pilot project was initiated in March 2016 under the name of “Soad”, which funded the cochlear operations for three children, including a girl named Soad. Cochlear implants provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing.
“This pilot project was very popular and successful,” Khamis recalls, saying that this “was when we created our brand and managed to build trust from our customers, especially after seeing [Soad] going into the operating room.”