What We Learned in 2016: Reflecting on the Oola Journey
By Haya Al-Ghanim   ·    December 31, 2016    ·    Team Thoughts

As 2016 comes to a close, the Oola team has so much to reflect on and be grateful for. As co-founders, Amina, Lilian, and I have learned so much together, and our team has grown to include an inspiring group of talented individuals. We are thankful for the support so many have shown us over the course of 2016, and we’re looking forward to next year and all the collaboration potential we see ahead of us. From teamwork to customer feedback, we learned three lessons this year that will continue to shape our growth in 2017.

Coming Together for a Common Goal

One of the joys of 2016 was the way Oola’s team came together and stepped up their game gearing up for our launch. We accepted the challenge to be agile and quick to act on a time-sensitive crowdfunding campaign which brought the team closer together. This experience reshaped my expectations of new hires. In the end, after 30 days on Indiegogo, we raised 225% of our crowdfunding goal with a total of $33,790 raised from 115 backers. That was quite an accomplishment for our crew.

Going forward, for 2017 onwards, we will be looking for new team members to join us, only if they can have the same agility, responsiveness and selfless giving of quality work for the overall betterment of the team and Oola.

Focusing on Customer Feedback

A lesson we learned the hard way in 2016 is to prioritize the perspective of a wide spectrum of customers. Entrepreneurs are often encouraged and constantly reminded, borderline nagged, to seek customers’ feedback. 2016 taught me that despite the constant reminder, when it’s time to make decisions, our default judgement is to go with our preference.

This year, we developed a customer-centric product development cycle by creating customer feedback groups for specific product lines, including swimwear and the abaya. This intentional focus on customer feedback has propelled us full-speed ahead with designing some of our most innovative pieces to come.

Our goal for 2017 and onwards is to not only continue to be good listeners to our customers’ needs, but also when it’s time to make decisions, we would refer to their valuable insights. That’s our priority determining factor in making decisions. Good news is, collection two will have your favorite colors and most desired sizes!

Cultivating Team Connectivity

Finally, I would love to spend more time with the Oola team all in one place. The year 2016 was all about setting up. Between establishing our brand awareness, building the community, growing the core team, kicking off sales, fulfilling orders and developing new products, the ultimate focus of 2016 was to get things done. We often did this apart from one another with lots of work-from-home time and on-the-go madness.

I envision more team time under one roof in 2017 (and this may or may not be my way of cornering them to babysit for me 😀 ). Though remote work can be an effective way to give teammates more space to focus and deliver, nothing replaces the feeling of togetherness like working side-by-side with teammates.

We were ecstatic to find our home in the Qatar Business Incubation Center late this year, and we couldn’t imagine a better community for launching our fledgling fashion startup. I look forward to more team time together in the new year.

Thank you for being a part of our journey this year. As you looked in on our development, what were your Oola highlights of 2016? Feel free to share your highlights on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!