Founded by Mostafa Talaat and Kareem El-Shaffei, who had $12K seed funding at their disposal when they set out to start a social marketplace for local design, CIRQY provides a platform for conscientious buyers to support Middle Eastern artists and designers.
“CIRQY brings you the hottest, creative designs that will add something new to your everyday life and allow you to express yourself differently,” according to the website.
“On CIRQY you can follow your friends and discover things together; buying, sharing, recommending and collecting your favorite items from your favorite independent artists and designers.”
On offer are art and home decor, accessories, apparel, toys, and stationery, along with various miscellanea.
Both buyers and sellers have to set up an account, but otherwise the platform is very simple to use. It’s possible to search for goods via categories or a search box.
Granted, the quality of the design is not yet as good as Etsy, and it is possible to find Middle Eastern artists and designers on Etsy. But there are some neat creations available on CIRQY that are handmade, mostly, by local artisans – and that is worth a lot.
We particularly liked the shelving made from recycled tires, some sweet dreamcatcher earrings, and a set of seats/tables made with repurposed crates. The latter makes a great gift for a college student or someone who is getting their very first apartment but don’t have a lot of money.
Sellers have to apply to participate, and it costs nothing to open their own store on the site, but they will collect a 25 percent commission when an item is sold.