Hello! I am Julia, the CEO, and co-founder of Creative971, the leading Shopify and Shopify Plus Agency in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. We purely work on building UI/UX focussed E-Commerce Websites and our clients are either B2C or B2B, mainly consumer retail, F & B, or FMCG based within the GCC and the Middle East.
Fun fact, as being a German living in Dubai, we do get a lot of German-owned/ led or German-speaking businesses in general that like to work with us and that’s great too.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My brother Nico and I, originally from Germany, have always been amazed and inspired by the story of a fellow German, Tobi Lütke, the founder of Shopify.
It is hard to always look at the bright side, but I’ve learned for sure not to regret missed opportunities, but rather learn from them, to avoid those in the future, and surely used the mistakes/poor decisions as a stepping stone.
We never understood why Shopify wasn’t as dominant as a platform in the UAE as elsewhere globally, so we came up with the idea to open an agency focussing on the E-Commerce Niche in the GCC/ predominantly circling Shopify and Shopify Plus as a platform.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Initially, we were focused on educating the users about Shopify and E-commerce in general, it’s a fairly new concept to our region, well it was 5-6 years ago when we started.
Our processes were hence quite user-centric, offering E-commerce websites, marketing, and support.
The early days consisted of lots of coffee, little sleep, and a small team that had a vision… plus we’re fully self-funded up until now, this was a big step/mission.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We’ve worked with different clients within the MENA and GCC region ultimately focusing on Shopify and Shopify Plus. And a lot has changed in E-commerce and consumer behavior since we began the company in 2016. As a business, you are expected to innovate and meet your customers' expectations.
As a result, we've steadily expanded our services to include not only website building and design, but also Digital Marketing, training, consultation, and an academy that provides masterclasses for your E-commerce and Dropshipping business.
We've focused on providing a 360-degree solution for your eCommerce that will support you in establishing, scaling, and optimizing your digital presence in the market.
My advice would be to continue innovating yourself and your business and to validate the same alongside your team and customers.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I suppose I could say that we're fortunate since even during the covid and post-covid periods, we're doing well. People have become more observant of e-commerce and digital websites as a result of the restrictions. It was an eye-opening experience for several retail locations and businesses that largely focus on the physical shopping experience.
If you are allowed to do something wonderful with boundless potential, you should be willing to accept the challenge, and you will discover that you have a lot more to accomplish without even realizing it.
Our niche is to set foot here and be a guide, enabler but as well a thought leader for their E-Commerce plans.
We are expanding to more productized service offerings as we can see the customer’s needs.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Owning your own business means you’re giving up comfort and certainly you are giving up stability on any level. It is hard to always look at the bright side, but I’ve learned for sure not to regret missed opportunities, but rather learn from them, to avoid those in the future, and surely used the mistakes/poor decisions as a stepping stone.
We are always very innovative and are looking for synergies with other technology companies. Especially given the fact that the E-commerce business is still relatively new in our region. You can expect consumers to come to you with a long list of questions, which some may or may not be relevant to your area of expertise. As a result, maintaining a regular partner who really can support you on those points is essential, and clients would appreciate it if you can provide and recommend comprehensive solutions for their business. Your partners, on the other hand, will assist you in structuring your business in the market by co-marketing and recommendations.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
As tools, we use Slack, Social Media, Google networks, and various others about project management. Slack is our main internal communication tool, we use Slack with clients, partners, and within our team, and it is super efficient and structured. A great tool to use for any entrepreneur. For social media we surely love Hootsuite, making structuring social posts so much easier.
But as a platform, we only work with Shopify and Shopify Plus. Here we always work with the approach to support each client individually. Meaning if you have a store and your products are priced on a higher price note than the average basket volume, you’d have great success by
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The most influential inspiration has always been Nico and my uncle. He is an outstanding person, built so much in his life and we’ve been blessed to call him our Mentor. I’d say there are always great books, such as “Charles Duhigg - The Power of Habit” or “Dr Joseph Murphy -The Power of the Subconscious” but nothing can replace a person guiding you, someone who’s been through it and who will call you out and be there.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
The best way to predict the future, in my opinion, is to create it. It's never easy to establish yourself as a female leader in an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry. However, this does not deter me from starting my own business and creating my own path, since I am aware that there are numerous opportunities provided to us. In terms of innovation, e-commerce knows no boundaries, and I wouldn't want to characterize myself exclusively based on my capabilities. If you are allowed to do something wonderful with boundless potential, you should be willing to accept the challenge, and you will discover that you have a lot more to accomplish without even realizing it.
Other people focus a lot on perfecting their offerings, I’d rather say start, don’t waste time, and learn while doing it. What I mean, we’ve started offering Shopify Websites back in 2016 and now there is so much to what we do and how we can help businesses to grow.
But this was only possible by starting, every step of the journey counts.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
At the moment we’re pretty good, we are looking for an additional Graphic designer, but part-time for now only. The best is to email us and showcase your work. Don’t just apply with a CV.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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