Zainab AlEbrahim, Founder, Cactus District

A digital movement across retail.

Zainab AlEbrahim is the founder of Bahrain’s progressive and recently turned digital movement in retail: Cactus District.  “The goal is to support designers and help them express and share their work in the most innovative ways,” she says.  AlEbrahim collaborates with Se7en Concept in KSA and BAH to bring users a digital experience to replace Cactus District’s seasonal pop up activation pre pandemic.

1. Describe yourself as Founder of Cactus District.

I am Zainab AlEbrahim, I have been in the events industry for 8 years. I am passionate about art, design, fashion and love creating unique shopping experiences that bring people together and engage with and support unique talent.

2. Describe the emerging artist scene in BAH for us. How do you think it is unique to others in GCC?

Bahrain is small compared to other GCC countries but with a high number of unique talents. An increase in talents has emerged in the last couple of years as Bahrain was being promoted as a tourist and cultural destination.

3. You have been acclaimed for your seasonal pop ups that combine a variety of designers to showcase aesthetically pleasing yet commercial concepts. How do you hope to continue during COVID-19 when operating in physical spaces is restricted?

We all agree that the current times are hard, the future of fashion and retail is uncertain and each new day comes with its own challenges, all while life is trying to crawl back to normal. This is when I decided to collaborate with Se7en Concept – an online platform based in Bahrain and KSA – the goal is to support designers and help them express and share their work in the most innovative ways! The concept of this collaboration is curating my favorite selection of brands that will be available to shop on Se7en Concept’s website.

Again like many event planners, I was somehow forced to go virtual. This concept is not just another “collaboration.” Everything is carefully thought of making sure we make the most out of it while also creating an online experience through our themed weekly edits, brand stories, Instagram takeovers and much more!

Photo by Todd Gardner on Unsplash

4. Congratulations on create a virtual shop. What are both the opportunities and challenges to launching a multi-brand store online in general?

Creating a virtual shop is exciting! E-commerce is relatively new to Cactus District but the challenge was accepted.  The opportunities are endless with online everything can be done with a click. The challenge is mainly that online shopping is much slower than a brick-and-mortar experience.

5. Many customers claim that they still prefer shopping in-person in order to feel the clothes, ask for help, try them on etc. How do you suggest brands can combat these challenges when shifting online?

People are more comfortable with online shopping now as the coronavirus lockdowns accelerated the shift to e-commerce. Spending habits have also changed drastically. Shopping in person would always be a better option but because we are not traveling and have limited options to shop from especially in Bahrain, so we are somehow forced to shop online.

6. How have Bahraini customers responded to the shift online in terms of which product categories they are buying? Are some more popular when shopping in a physical space versus online? 

Spending more time at home only meant more sweats (new uniform), new skincare routines and comfy loungewear. People are now spending more on wellness products, comfortable footwear and activewear. Quarantine also made us realize that we can live with less, which is why many are investing in timeless pieces rather than trend-driven or seasonal items.

"I was somehow forced to go virtual."

7. Now that you have experienced selling both offline and online, and if COVID-19 subsides, which structure will you embrace for the future and why?

Definitely offline! To me nothing replaces face-to-face interactions, socializing, and live experiences.

8. What is your top advice for entrepreneurs looking to make it in BAH? 

Be authentic! Bahrain’s consumers are very style-conscious and culturally aware, they are also smart spenders.