Stay in Kuwait for a mere moment and one of the first things you will notice, apart from the heavily stacked aisles of sweets and chocolates in the supermarkets, is how inspiringly entrepreneurial the people here are. Someone always has an idea they are working on, or an Instagram or home business and are working their socks off to get some traction in their chosen market.
Recognizing this, and wanting to explore and support these local upcoming entrepreneurs, The Promenade decided to devote prime retail space and provide sound business advice to successful Soapbox candidates via a mentorship model. An experienced team of mentors gives professional advice and support services specifically tailored to the entrepreneur’s needs.
Looking more closely into exactly what is a retail incubator, as the name suggests, it is a safe, nurturing environment which supports and prepares new business owners in their economic ventures. With low overheads and flexible terms Soapbox tenants can choose from pre-fitted, manageably sized shop spaces or they can opt for shorter-lease kiosks or pop-up. Once moved-in the focus can immediately be on sales and building the business’ brand.
Developing fresh retail concepts ensures a diverse and vibrant local economy and, as well as a brick-and-mortar presence, Soapbox features an e-commerce portal through which tenants have access to a wider audience. Here, they can market their products and services online, capturing sales via the web which exponentially increases the potential for higher turnover. Entrepreneurs also have the use of low-cost delivery services through a third-party partner, so less of their profit is eaten up by getting the stock to the customer.
Among the first tenants to take their place with Soapbox is Dar Scrubs, a company that specializes in bright and practical scrubs that you want to be seen in. When asked why Dar Scrubs is so keen to work under the Soapbox mantle, General Manager Abdulrahman Alselim enthusiastically recounts, “Soapbox has been a catalyst for our business! Speeding up the growth and guiding us towards the correct path. Being part of this retail incubator has given us huge competitive advantage and that is because of the countless services and assistance they provide.”
Soapbox also serves double duty as a community space where workshops for entrepreneurs, events and activities are held throughout the year starting with an official launch in October compered by writer and comedian Hoda Abbas Marafie and musical performances curated by Amin Fari. It is hoped for Soapbox to become a Millennials hub, with like-minded, similarly goal-oriented individuals with a knack for business coming together and creating opportunities for each other. This can be in commercial enterprises or in social causes, whatever it takes to get things done and to be a positive force for community in Kuwait.
So where did the name Soapbox come from? You may have heard someone before say, “Get off your soap box” in response to hearing a person’s opinion being voiced. A soap box used to be the actual wooden box used to cart soap and other goods that would be upturned and stood upon in a gathering of people on the streets. This would elevate the speaker above the heads of the people whose attention they wanted to attract, whose support they wanted to gather.
Here the orator would opine on subjects they were passionate about, because the working classes were given no other platform to be heard on. These boxes became a symbol of free speech and personal expression.
In the same way Soapbox is a “platform for success” a stage for making a statement through a unique and creative retail experience. This is an exciting project that will hopefully pave the way for local entrepreneurialism being supported and celebrated by the long-established business community within Kuwait. And it is good news for shoppers too, to be given the choice to spend their dinars with local independents which offer unique and high-quality items. The bazaar team sent two people to Soapbox to cover this story and both of them came away having bought something! You won’t be able to resist either!
Meet the Soapbox Tenants
A group of local entrepreneurs who specialize in product designing and manufacturing home accessories in Kuwait. They specialize in mabakhir (Arabian Incense burners) made from different materials ranging from wood, metals and even concrete, and they can also provide customizable gift items for special occasions, even weddings and corporate giveaways. UNIT is certain to provide you with that special item showcasing customizable creative design.
Headed by a young entrepreneurial doctor who raised the bar when it comes to scrubs and doctors’ uniforms. Their vast collection of modern scrubs and doctors’ jackets has elevated your standard offering to colorful, fashionable, comfortable and fit for purpose. Officially the sole agent to many internationally renowned brands including the famous Gray’s Anatomy’s scrub collection. Make sure to check out their creative flash drives and awesome, massive mugs.
Two cousins with a fashionable eye who specialize in designer evening gowns. Whether it’s a date night with your loved one, or your best friend’s wedding, you’re sure to find that perfect outfit to stand out from the crowd and make your experiences extra special. Make sure to regularly check out their latest collections!
Expanding on the existing business and vamping the ever-growing collection, JF scarves is proving to be one of the best retailers for fashionably popular Hejabs (head scarves). Accompanying their collection are tailored tops and some of the most stylish accessories to be found, plus JF is an authorized Swarovski retailer.
Looking for that special gift for yourself or someone else just became easier! A unique store specializing in awesome gadgets, exclusive collectables and latest mobile accessories. Bring your personality to work with their recent POP Figures collection or show off your classic EZ exclusive “f.r.i.e.n.d.s” collection at home, this store is bound to have something interesting to catch your eye.
Make a highlight of your family gatherings the customizable and delicious chocolate or petit fours trays from Nuwair. They curate gift baskets with scrumptious nibbles, and even live plants as well as lovely stationery and cards. With simple steps to get your started on the perfect celebration gift, you’ll be the center of attention at your next meet up. Everything from Creative Mugs (by local designers) to pretty note books for your messages. Nuwair is your one-stop shop for gifts!
Ever dream of owning your own customized arcade games with classic games such as Pacman? Well the talented team behind Secret Stage has made that dream affordable! Specializing in refurbished Arcade machines to even fully customizing them to suit your office, cafe or even your home. A place made for true arcade fans.
Wondering what a bazaar full of handmade crafts specially picked from all around Morocco and Spain looks like? Look no further than Artizana where you’ll get lost in the fine art and curiosities hanging all around the place. From unique coffee tables and center pieces, to home décor and one-of-a-kind paintings, you’ll be sure to impress your loved ones with items from Artizana’s immense collection.
Looking for sophisticated style at affordable prices, then Dilek can provide you with the latest fashion trends to ensure you’re never seen next to someone wearing the same outfit! Their unique collection from all around the world is aimed for outgoing women who like to maintain an air of modest mystery. With many items continually being sold out, don’t think twice about making Dilek the first stop on your visit.
For more Soapbox news follow @soapboxkw on Instagram and Facebook. The Promenade is located on 3rd Ring Road, opposite Qadsiya and can be easily accessed by road and the local public transport system. For more on The Promenade’s activities and events follow them on Instagram @thepromenadekw or call 2227 7130. For the Promenade Culture Centre follow them on Instagram @promenadeculturecentre. To apply for a space at Soapbox or for more information visit www.applyforabox.com.