OnceUponaLineShop is an emerging business based in Lahore. The business is owned by Salman Shahzad, a graduate of Visual Communication Design from Beaconhouse National University. Salman believes that he is now rightfully exploiting his artistic potential and has come up with an innovative idea for this via an online shop. He is our guest today at the show:
Rohail Amjad: What was the concept behind this venture?
Salman Shahzad: Hmmm… I used to draw above the margins in my BS.ECO classes in all of my journals, and when I got a chance to pursue my Visual communication degree at BNU, I really got to explore my own style of art and finally find my true calling. ‘’Practice makes perfect’’ that’s the artists code, and that’s what I believe in. Even though I still have a long way to go, I now feel I’m on the right path.
Almost 4 years down, I have turned my illustrations & designs into a business by the name of “OnceUponaLineShop”. We have started off with introducing a range of awesome products for the artist on-the-go and art lovers alike, and we want everybody to enjoy the products as much as we enjoyed making them for you guys.
Rohail Amjad: What does the name reflect?
Salman Shahzad: Honestly, by the time I thought of the name, I found several similar accounts on my first Instagram search. But I felt the name resonated with what I wanted to portray to my audience, so I stuck with it. And 3-4 years after starting this account, I’m very content with the direction I took and humbled by all the lovely people who leave such kind comments on the page and constantly support & encourage me to push myself towards betterment. You would be pleased to know that OnceUponaLine has also extended to OnceUponaLineShop.com, now that’s a mouthful!
Rohail Amjad: Do you think that in this age of digitization sketchbooks and post cards would establish their mark?
Salman Shahzad: Even though I LOVE my iPad, nothing can replace the feel of a good handy sketchbook, with a 2B pencil and some good canson paper. I’ve bought dozens of sketchbooks over the years, A5’s A4’s A3’s, you name it. But during my time as a student, imo I always found the “good quality ones” to be veryy pricey, and when you are a student, you often find yourself pulling your hand away at the shelves from the pricier brands. This I felt was a problem that artists like me faced and a problem that could be resolved with an affordable and creative solution, so I decided to do something about it. So I threw my own illustrations on the cover, got some professional quality paper from urdu bazaar, with some kickass UV prints with thick beautiful covers, and brought you guys, premium quality sketchbooks at very affordable prices. And after customers showed so much interest in my very first product, I introduced 3 new products in a span of 2 weeks, with the help of my wife. And we cannot thank you guys enough for the love and constant support, and hope you will continue to do so.
Rohail Amjad: How much support is there from the government for new businesses?
Salman Shahzad: LOL. They say if you want to get something done right, do it yourself.
Rohail Amjad: Whenever a new business commences, the competitors are always a threat. How do you cope with the competition?
Salman Shahzad: Healthy competition toh acha hota hai yar, and I only have respect and good wishes for other businesses. It takes a lot of commitment, emotionally and financially, to start a business, so there is nothing but mutual respect for my fellow artists who dared to be different. More power to you! Sometimes you may have the money but not a viable idea, and vice versa, it really requires a lot of focus and attention to detail. Which is why I believe we should all help and support each other and collectively grow for the sake of the ever “endangered” artist community.
Rohail Amjad: Since, social media marketing is a thing nowadays as compared to the traditional marketing, do you think that the business impact is the same or is different?
Salman Shahzad: Social media is the way to go, if you want to get quickly noticed for your talent. And best of all, it’s free!! Social media has turned out to be the quickest way to get your message across to a wide audience of fans and potential customers. I remember I randomly started this page one day, during my lunch break at the agency and I just reached 2.2k followers yesterday. I know it may not be a big milestone for some, but for me, its hard-earned and I’m very thankful. And even though I’ve seen a lot of amazing amazing artists with far less following, I believe you can still utilize social media to your advantage, if your smart with it.
Rohail Amjad: You have got multiple sketchbook covers, what is the concept behind this?
Salman Shahzad: All the designs and illustrations are by me and my wife, who is also a graphic designer. We love brainstorming ideas and discussing everything we do, like what illustrations and designs would work with which products, do’s and don’ts. And it really encourages us when you guys flood our inbox with orders. Trust me, nothing sounds better than the “cha-ching” sound your shopify store makes when we get new orders.
Rohail Amjad: What is your advice for the new businesses?
Salman Shahzad: I feel now is the best time to start your own thing. Everybody has a side hobby that they pursue to take their mind off of the everyday hustle and bustle, why not turn it into a business? Try karne mei kia jaata hai? I believe that before quarantine was a thing, small businesses could not compete with industry giants or independent businesses on social media; but nowadays you may have noticed that trends have changed, a lot of people have recently shifted towards social media and are inclined to buy online. This could be used as an opportunity to do your own thing.
Rohail Amjad: It has been a great pleasure talking to you. Wishing you all the best for this venture
Salman Shahzad:: Thank you Rohail for such a comprehensive interview, and thank you for choosing us to interview. Cheers!