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The wonder store catering to Qatar’s African group | Qatar World Cup 2022

Doha, Qatar – Within the coronary heart of the energetic Doha neighbourhood of Al Mansoura is a magnificence and style store which has gained a powerful following amongst Africans dwelling within the Qatari capital ever because the retailer opened about two years in the past.

Butterfly Magnificence Store is positioned alongside Al Mansoura’s crowded primary avenue and is nestled amongst grocery shops – recognized regionally by the Arabic phrase baqaala, eating places, tea and snack spots and a smattering of {hardware} provide retailers.

The cabinets and aisles of Butterfly Magnificence Store are filled with magnificence merchandise, hair extensions, style equipment, garments, footwear, and seemingly each attainable style merchandise from Africa.

“That is the one store catering to the style wants of Africans in Qatar,” boasts the Kenyan store proprietor Bernard Wanjiku, 32.

Qatar is dwelling to a various overseas group that makes up 90 p.c of the nation’s inhabitants.

The sub-Saharan African group accounts for roughly 6 p.c of the full inhabitants in Qatar, with overseas nationals coming from nations akin to Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Somalia and Ghana.

Wanjiku arrived in Doha from Kenya in 2013 to work as a driver for a neighborhood organisation, however switched jobs to grow to be a taxi driver 5 years later. It was by means of conversations along with his purchasers that he obtained the concept to begin his personal enterprise.

“Each time somebody from Africa sat in my cab, they’d ask me if I knew of somebody coming from dwelling who may convey some magnificence merchandise,” he tells Al Jazeera.

“It will occur so incessantly that I realised this was a enterprise alternative ready to be grabbed.”

Store proprietor Bernard Wanjiku began his operations small, promoting magnificence merchandise to folks he met whereas he labored as a taxi driver [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]

Testing the waters

Wanjiku’s operations began small. At first, he would prepare for buddies travelling from Kenya to convey skincare and hair merchandise in small batches, after which he would promote them to Africans who he met on taxi rides. These prospects would maintain coming again for his merchandise.

“I wished to check the waters earlier than investing all my financial savings in a single place. For 4 years, I ran this enterprise as a facet hustle on [a] demand-and-supply foundation whereas having a cab as my primary supply of revenue,” explains Wanjiku, whose magnificence enterprise unfold by phrase of mouth.

Since opening the store in February 2021, Wanjiku has already established a major clientele, most of whom have adopted his journey from the taxi to his brick-and-mortar retailer in a bustling neighbourhood.

However Wanjiku admits he has social media to thank for the fast progress of his enterprise.

“Quickly after the opening, African folks dwelling in Mansoura posted pictures and movies from contained in the store,” he explains. “They’d strive on some wigs, hair extensions or rave about lastly gaining access to pores and skin merchandise from again dwelling.”

A few of these posts led to social media buzz amongst Qatar’s African group.

“A gaggle of Sudanese buyers as soon as posted one thing from right here, and it went viral inside their group, resulting in queues and visitors jams exterior my store within the following days,” he recollects, laughing.

On the time, the store had just lately opened and the Sudanese buyers had posted footage of themselves on social media attempting on hair extensions and garments. Wanjiku himself makes use of WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram to advertise his enterprise.

Jessie, one of many store assistants, reveals some face lotions and hair merchandise to a few from Kenya. He tells them which product would work higher for them, and assures them of its authenticity.

“Jessie is from Kenya as nicely,” Wanjiku says. “You will need to have individuals who perceive the merchandise and join with the consumers to make them really feel like they’re again dwelling.”

Mehrab, who’s from Uganda, is searching within the store. He says he first visited the shop a couple of months in the past after a few of his Kenyan buddies shared a YouTube video about it.

He says he usually stops by to speak about information from “again dwelling” and to see if there are any new merchandise to strive.

“Not all hair merchandise work on African hair,” he says, operating his hand over his head. “I’ve misplaced a lot hair since transferring to Qatar however now that I learn about this place, I come right here to get hair merchandise from dwelling.”

A photo of shirts being sold.
Wanjiku brings African style and sweetness traits to Qatar [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]

Satin attire, World Cup flags

Vibrant printed shirts known as dashikis grasp from a rail excessive above the cabinets. Jessie says they’re among the many best-selling objects as Filipinos and Arabs like to purchase them as nicely.

He factors at a rack of sparkly satin attire and says Kenyan girls love them as a result of they’re on pattern.

“Kenyan girls love following style from the wealthy and influential folks again dwelling, so we attempt to cater to their calls for and produce them [fashion trends] right here,” Jessie says.

“Generally, they only maintain up their telephones to indicate us precisely which stylish outfit they need and if we’ve got it, they’ll put it on and publish about it on their social media accounts instantly.”

Some Nigerian women and men, visiting Qatar for the World Cup, enter the store and browse the garments on show. They wish to see if the nation has any African fan paraphernalia to supply.

“We’re right here to help the African groups,” says Steve, one of many vacationers.

Wanjiku pulls out a couple of African flags from a field and unfurls them for the consumers.

He says he modified the look of his store entrance within the weeks main as much as the World Cup to match the event. The show is now adorned with massive flags and the soccer shirts of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Ghana and different taking part groups.

“Ghana, Senegal and Cameroon flags are very talked-about. The truth is, I’ve needed to restock on Ghanaian flags as they’ve been promoting out shortly.”

A photo of hair extensions being sold in a shop.
Butterfly Magnificence Store has grow to be a go-to store for folks from sub-Saharan African nations [Hafsa Adil/Al Jazeera]

Searching for the following pattern

An Indian fan of the Argentinian soccer staff beckons Jessie from the door.

“Brother, do you might have a Messi shirt? Quantity 10?” he asks. He walks away upset when Jessie shakes his head.

Wanjiku says the South Asians and Filipinos of Al Mansoura are excited about supporting solely Argentina, Brazil and Qatar.

Wanjiku has already began planning for all times after the World Cup.

“There’s a pattern of Kenyan, African-style placemats that’s selecting up again dwelling. I wish to convey them right here for the native Africans. I do know they’ll ask for them as quickly as they see it on social media.”

Jessie nods and chimes in, “You see that yellow T-shirt up there?” He factors to a vivid T-shirt emblazoned with a photograph of George Wajackoyah, a dropping candidate on this yr’s common elections in Kenya.

“We obtained it as a result of this man was fashionable among the many youth again dwelling, and the younger Kenyan folks right here wished to be part of the pattern,” he explains. “Something that’s fashionable in Kenya, we convey it to Qatar.”

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