Kazakh Craftsmen and Artists Fill Up Virtual Marketplace With Unique Handicrafts 

NUR-SULTAN – Recent university undergraduates kicked off Este, a stylish and unique marketplace collecting the works of more than 120 Kazakh handmade artists in a single place. The people who prefer authenticity in the globalized world can find one of their kind clothes, accessories, postcards, children toys, paintings, among others.

Soroba – a traditional Kazakh rounded cap for women. Photo credit: @janarystyle instagram page.

According to one of the creators Sultanmurat Eleu, they named the marketplace “Este,” short for Estelik, which means “memorable” or “in memory of” in Kazakh. It is basically an online shop that can help one find memorable gifts or highlight one’s unique style.

Although the marketplace has been functioning for less than a month, “there is a demand for handmade and national style products made by domestic producers. People want to support them,” said Yeleu in an interview for this story.

One of the vivid examples of the national style products in Este are Kazakh traditional taqiyah (short unisex light rounded caps) and soraba (traditional female type of taqiyah) by JAŃARÝ. The young brand seeks to bring the traditional and elegant hats back into fashion. 

Yeleu launched the website along with his wife Aiya Mamrayeva, and elder brother Galymzhan Yeleuov. They seek to promote unique and authentic handmade products and simplify the purchasing process.

Handmade polymer clay earrings by Ina Kai accessories store. Photo credit: este.kz.

Este has the potential to be the solution for Kazakh artists during the lockdown. Before the pandemic, Kazakh handmade artists could only display their works at fairs and exhibitions. In the lockdown, the artists now have to rely on promoting their works online. Kazakhstan, however, has only marketplaces that sell products of large transnational brands with bigger names. Artists have to sell their crafts on social media, which hides their work in a veritable flood of other pages and offers.

“People are selling on Instagram. But it is not very comfortable as everything is not gathered in one place and you have to call, text, negotiate [with each of them]. On our website, all you have to do is to choose, pay and that’s it,” Yeleu said.

The Este team plans to expand the market to other Central Asian countries and continue to develop the website. Currently, they are participating in an Astana Hub technology park’s acceleration program.

Scythian figurines made of brass. Photo credit: este.kz.

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