Introducing POPC: The region’s first artist marketplace

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POPC unites artists and consumers under one platform; revolutionizing production and shopping of pop culture merchandise

The startup has launched with a variety of merch, t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, canvas and framed prints, conceptualized by young Middle East-based entrepreneurs and artists 

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The first artist driven, e-commerce platform in the GCC region, POPC, has recently launched. The platform bursts the bubble between creators and consumers, creating an artist ecosystem that keeps them continuously connected. 

Creators are empowered to sell their products through their own individual storefronts within the marketplace at no joining cost, with production and shipping handled entirely by the platform.

With pop culture as its core focus, POPC has launched with a range of t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, caps, canvas and framed prints with stickers and matching sets set to drop soon.  All the products are manufactured on-demand in the UAE, meaning minimal waste, and created using the highest-quality fabrics and materials, setting a standard for merchandise production and fulfillment in the region with all their operations located entirely in the UAE. All the merchandise is designed by pop culture artists based in the region, who earn a fixed commission on the sale of each product.

The platform was conceptualized by Amna Aijaz, Haroon Tahir and Arafaat Ali Khan, who are the founding team that has over 40 years of experience in e-commerce, marketing, design, pop culture and customer experience. 

The idea for POPC came from Amna Aijaz, 29, co-founder and Chief Art Officer, when she wanted to launch her own merchandise store after the events and marketing industry took a major hit during the pandemic. Amna quickly found that there were no online artist marketplaces in the GCC where artists could easily upload and sell their designs at no cost or hassle. Meanwhile, independent pop culture artists were confined to selling their merchandise at events and looking for a fixed platform to sell their designs. After connecting with her former university classmate Haroon Tahir and her former manager Arafaat Ali Khan, best known for co-founding the region’s first and largest Comic Con, they found that there was a complete dearth of quality merchandise available locally. The products available were not on par with global standards in terms of print quality, design, fit and durability. 

“We wanted to build an ecosystem for artists and on-demand production in the region – it just doesn’t exist at a quality standard,” says Amna Aijaz. “As an artist and pop culture fan raised in the UAE, it’s vital for us to bring the community together through our shared interests and give people access to the merchandise they want from artists they love throughout the year at their convenience.”

“While initially building the business, all we found was cheap quality merchandise that was printed with dull colors and ill-fitting shirts created with sticky heat press prints, that took weeks to deliver,” added Haroon Tahir, 28, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer. 

“With POPC, our customers will have access to the highest quality physical art and designed merchandise, at competitive prices that gets delivered within 7 working days,” he added.

POPC currently delivers across the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with plans to expand delivery within the MENA region by the end of this year.

As part of its mission of building the region’s artist ecosystem, POPC is also slated to launch the world’s first Arabic comic reader and a fan engagement platform where artists can stream and chat with their fans directly by 2023.

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