Bridging a huge disconnect in the region between creatives, opportunities, and clients, yourAOK provides an interactive platform for the creative community in the Middle East to showcase their work and connect with potential clients.
As practicing designers themselves, founders Ruba AlSaleh, Alia AlAzzeh, Mohammed AlRoumi, and Abdulaziz AlKandari realized that several start-up design firms have the capabilities, but haven’t been recognized in the market yet. Also noticing the abundance of raw, equally unrecognized, talent, they set out to connect both fronts via the networking solutions offered by yourAOK.net.
Tell us about yourselves.
We are a group of four enthusiastic, practicing architects who have had experience in founding and managing publications and websites in the past, and practicing knowledge in the field of design. We have had varying experiences from working in Korea to Zurich and the United States that led to an undeniable passion in wanting to move forward and help improve the over-all creative output and networking capabilities between creative professionals, design entrepreneurs, and product suppliers in the MENA region. This ultimately led to the founding of yourAOK Creatives Network in 2012, and its official launch in 2013.
How does yourAOK connect creatives with potential clients?
yourAOK platform provides users with a digital portfolio builder to aid creative professionals with the tools to be visually dynamic when portraying their works to potential clients. By having a platform where all creatives visually present their portfolios we provide unlimited exposure for clients searching for particular fields of design to fulfill certain design tasks. Whether they are design entrepreneurs, companies, or product suppliers, they all fall under the yourAOK umbrella. Once portfolios are uploaded, scouting is made easy via our online scouting services and creative output is improved between end users via our social networking services on the platform.
Quarterly, yourAOK publishes yourAOK Pages – a publication dedicated to hand-picking what we see as great uploads on the platform – and we distribute the publication across the region for potential clients to see the crème de la crème of MENA creatives!
What benefits do users gain from signing up to yourAOK?
The creative field is different than most fields in the sense that it is subjective and constructive criticism is constantly required to enhance skills. Scouting for creative professionals, such as architects or graphic designers, should not be done via paper CV’s where portfolios are seen as second to a paper CV. Further, clients wanting to design a restaurant, for example, should not have to go through difficulty in finding the right lighting fixtures or chairs, to complete the vision they have for their design concept.
Users who sign up to yourAOK find that their lives are made easier. Our end users are easily provided with constructive criticism on projects, and have a space where they can find and network with similar creatives in different areas of the region. Employers looking to hire are not only driven by years of experience written on a candidate’s resume, but they can also visually see what the candidate is capable of.
Describe a typical day at the office.
The yourAOK Team is currently expanding, and with this expansion comes great fun. So, a typical day would be starting off with our brainstorming sessions accompanied by raiding our write-on wall and magnetic door with all the little writings and drawings that accompany our thoughts. This, of course, comes after our rituals; for example, Ruba likes her tea, while Alia likes her coffee!
What are some successes assisted by yourAOK?
We took off on yourAOK concept after first having the idea in mind in 2010. In 2011, we presented it at the Doha Tasmeem Conference where we were selected winners for the 2011 Doha Design Entrepreneurship competition.
We then held off on what was then the yourAOK concept and continued with the archofkuwait.com blog. We have since had competitions in collaboration with SSH: we held workshops to improve the over-all learning curve, as well as have been media sponsors for several design related events.
Since our launch a couple of months ago, our registered users have tripled from the date of the launch, and the number of items uploaded have doubled. We have had the opportunity to be sponsored by companies such as URC, and our first product suppliers to subscribe was the Design Circle of Kuwait.
What’s next for yourAOK?
There is so much for yourAOK to do! The whole point of yourAOK is to serve as a platform that not only aids users in displaying their works, but also is a platform for creative professionals and design entrepreneurs to use as an effective aid in improving and networking their creative abilities.
We have a lot in store for you, and can definitely say it’s fun and exciting to use and adopt as part of a designers daily life. We think you’ll love it too – stay tuned for more!
For more information, please visit www.youraok.net.