Born and raised in the UK; it was only a few years ago that Tamara Abukhadra found herself drawn back to her roots in order to launch Jeddah's first concept store.
With a keen eye for beautiful design and a seemingly in-built knowledge for what the consumer wants, Tamara has seen Homegrown Market go from strength to strength in the short time it’s been running. The product, no doubt, of its creator’s immense talent and drive. If ever someone was born to be an entrepreneur…
Can you talk us through the concept of Homegrown Market?
Homegrown Market is a platform for Middle-Eastern creative talent. It gives local creatives the opportunity to showcase and sell their products without having to organise and pay a huge amount for their own selling space. I realised that a lot of young entrepreneurs are put off by the cost and technicalities of the set-up stage before they’ve even started, so we offer them an easy way in that allows them to concentrate on their passion: the creation process. After that, we can maintain their display, sell for them, market for them where we can, and also help them find out what works in the market.
We’ve actually had people start out with us that are now opening their own stores. It’s incredibly satisfying watching these brands grow and succeed.
On a personal level why was it important to you to set up a concept store like this?
It’s not easy for people to find jobs, especially in this economy, and I know there are so many out there with astounding talent but who just don’t have the exposure or the means to promote themselves. I want to encourage and inspire entrepreneurialism; these small businesses are the backbone of every economy and I want Saudi Arabia but most importantly, it’s talented citizens, to succeed.
Before you started Homegrown, did you have any experience in a similar field?
I studied politics and development studies, and my dream was initially to work in the UN, but I quickly realised politics and all that comes with it wasn’t right for me. With that in mind, I suppose the desire to create change has always been a part of me. Pair this with my love for all things creative and I’d say that in many ways Homegrown was a natural progression.
Although you were born in London, it’s clear you harbour a real connection to your heritage. What do you love most about living here?
It’s so beautiful. The desert in particular is amazing. Going on hikes, sitting round bonfires and looking up at the starry skies – it’s such a great antidote to the city. And then if you go even further out, there’s beautiful greenery, rivers, wildlife.
It’s also a hugely exciting time to be back here; new galleries and exhibitions are opening all the time and there’s a real sense of change in the air.
Would you say there’s been a rise in entrepreneurism amongst women in Saudi Arabia?
Yes, in both Jeddah and Riyadh it’s growing like crazy. Women are really taking their fortune into their own hands and it’s amazing to see. It motivates me to keep going with Homegrown and continue to offer opportunity wherever I can.
I’d say in general things are changing for women here. For a long time, Saudi women have had this ambition to continue their education and have successful careers, and now it’s actually happening, now it’s finally their time. They’ve been rising for a while now, and they’ll continue to rise.
What does success look like to you?
If I can continue to help talented people that may otherwise be overlooked, and really put them on the map, I’ll be happy. Eventually I’d love to do this beyond the Middle-East too. I’m a big fan of the underdog.
"For a long time, Saudi women have had this ambition to continue their education and have successful careers, and now it's actually happening, now it’s finally their time..."