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21 Oct 2014 Last updated
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Q&A with Imad Ghandour: The man with the job we really envy

Imad Ghandour is the chief of products at Wamli.com, a UAE-based online retailer selling off-beat items sourced from all over the world. Founded by Imad’s cousin, Rabih Ghandour, the site, which has just celebrated its six-month anniversary, is a shopping paradise for geeks, gadget addicts and anyone seeking a gift for that hard-to-buy-for friend who seems to have everything. Coffee mugs with knuckle-duster grips feature alongside quirky stationery and ingenious contraptions for travellers. We asked Imad (whose job we envy almost as much as Hugh Hefner’s) to tell us more about the company

By Craig Hawes
Added 17:28 | 8 July 2013
  • Imad Ghandour

    Imad Ghandour, UAE-based online retailer.

    Source:Supplied picture

The products sold on Wamli obviously reflect
 your own taste. Is your home full of the cool stuff you sell?

All products do reflect my personal taste, and I do own
 a fair amount. Actually I’m a Rare Breed, the title given 
to members who buy a huge variety of products on Wamli, and I was the first to have it. 

Have you ever sourced a product that really missed the mark and ended up with no buyers?

Yes we have. We got a very practical design item from COOIMA, the pushpin cork stool, which we were expecting to be a hit, but we ended up with no sales.

5 questions we ask everybody

If I WASN’T DOING THIS I WOULD BE
A telecom consultant

A PERSON WHO’S HAD A BIG INFLUENCE ON MY LIFE IS
Steve Jobs

A FICTIONAL CHARACTER AFTER MY OWN HEART IS
Maximus from Gladiator

STUFF THAT I ALWAYS TRAVEL WITH
Noise-cancelling headphones

A WORD OR EXPRESSION THAT I USE A LOT IS
Awi albak – “have no fear”

Tell us about some of the products that have sold really well over here.

The UAE is our most successful market, so you could say all our popular products do really well here. To name a few, the Stachifier Moustache pacifiers [babies’ dummies with a plastic moustache attached] are a major hit; as are the en&is Megaphone and Thabto’s knuckle duster mugs and its Looking Good Sunglasses Mirror.

Are there any countries in particular where you always know you’ll leave with a whole load of interesting products?

I would say the US and Japan. When I am in either, I tend to end up with tons of interesting and unique products –
for Wamli and for personal use.

Wamli sounds like an unconventional place
to work. What kind of employee joins the
 Wamli family?

Happy House, the name of our office, is indeed unconventional, and a very creative environment to be in. Wamli employees are creative individuals who can apply their experience in innovative ways, push their ideas and allow everyone to work on them to make them better, adding value to the core of Wamli.

Wamli as it is today is the result of a collaborative effort from everyone in the office. The user experience, the functionality, the design and every element has a touch of every person involved in Wamli.

Who is the typical Wamli customer?

Our typical customers are people who love to have these quirky design items we sell, the stuff that you don’t really need but want anyway, and people who are looking for the perfect gift for their loved ones, friends and colleagues. When we initially launched, we targeted mostly geeks and men, but we have been surprised to find that geeks are not the biggest portion of our customer base, and that more than 60 per cent of 
our customers are women.

What’s been the most surprising thing about forming your own company?

I would have to say the amazing reactions to the products, on a daily basis. I love every item I get and seeing all this love from others with the same taste is both surprising and fulfilling.

Where do you see Wamli in five years?

The e-commerce industry is constantly evolving and changing. Today we are building a strong foundation, 
a strong community of design enthusiasts, and a scaleable and flexible platform with a huge potential.

Having said that, there is a lot we want to achieve with Wamli – grow it into a more social platform and add more innovative and fun elements. Of course we also want to keep the amazing and quirky products flowing. I would like to build a link between the brands and the members for direct marketing, and get the members themselves to help in curating the selection.

By Craig Hawes

By Craig Hawes

Features Editor