By Johara Al Mogbel
Oh, but we do love a creative business. And the Wood Sheikh, he of the footwear drawer slash fashionable optical illusion, is one of the more creative ones we’ve seen in a while. A shoe closet that looks likes your favorite shoe box but a hundred times bigger? Yes please. We’ll take one in Louboutin red, thank you very much.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Saud Al Hashil but my nickname is Odie. I’m assuming you’re about to ask “why Odie?” Well, I’m still wondering why my family decided to call me the name of a dog in a cartoon. I think it was my aunt who suggested it because people in England struggled with pronouncing my real name.
I was born in England on December 6, 1988 (26 years young). I was born and raised in Torquay, a small but beautiful seaside town in Devon, England. I studied business and marketing at South Devon College, I’m still not sure how I passed. I don’t have a day job, this business gets 24/7 out of me but it’s cool, I love doing what I do.
I’ve been to Thailand, Tunisia, France, Spain, Portugal and a few Gulf countries. I’m well overdue a holiday; Maldives is probably my dream destination if anyone would like to take me?
Why the Wood Sheikh?
I’m proud of my heritage, and proud of my work – it just sounded right.
Any plans for expansion? What’s your next step?
Well right now I am mainly focusing on bespoke pieces. I’ve learnt that customers really want to express their personalities within some of the pieces. For me that’s really where my passion comes to life – when someone asks for a box that has glitter inside; then I know I’m going to have fun!
I’d really like to have a retail store with many other products, I really want people to see and feel my work in real life. I’ve had a lot of admiration on social media, but the comments from the customers when they receive their boxes is much more rewarding, I really try to exceed their expectations.
What’s your work process? Do you have anyone to help you out?
My work process involves Drake, coffee, jogging pants and Kinder Bueno. Now that the workload has increased I have a very talented team to support me, but they all know the Kinder Buenos are off limits.
How did you come up with the idea of the boxes?
By thinking outside the box.
We’re curious.. What’s your favorite pair of shoes?
Giuseppe Zanotti all day long! I think he won me over when he released a pair of shoes with gold crocodiles on them. How could I say no?
How would you describe your own personal sense of style?
I’m a big believer in “less is more” so my style is simple. The coolest style for me would be a comfortably fitted plain black/white T-shirt with some jeans. However, a crazy pair of shoes would perfect that style for me, oh and maybe a fancy watch as well, although I’m not that into accessories.
Any role models or inspirations?
My big brother, Saeed. He’s my life teacher and he’s quite cool, a good human too. Ok, let’s not inflate his ego any more as he’ll probably read this.
What inspires me… that moment when someone receives something you made from scratch and says “OMG I LOVE IT.” That right there inspires me! I love the journey and excitement of bringing something to life, all that hard work and effort and then watching someone enjoy it – that’s priceless.
Shipping is horrible at the best of times, and custom painted wooden boxes seem like a pain to send off. How do you work around that?
Very well phrased, I could go further but I would like this to be published. To sum up delivery, I once personally drove to Dubai to deliver a box – it was an anniversary gift and the customer was following up for four weeks almost every other day. I realized it wasn’t going to get there on time, so I did the honorable thing and took an 11-hour road trip.
Each country has its challenges, but my aim is to always make the customers happy – sometimes I will personally deliver boxes – just like taking your child to school on their first day, you just want them to arrive safely.
Where do you get the most customers from?
I have had so many order requests from around the world, mainly US and UK, but I’m currently focusing on GCC, so most orders are from Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE.
What would be the ultimate custom order for you?
Double patty, egg, guacamole, jalapeño sauce, red onions, lettuce, tomato inside a brioche bun (lightly toasted).