Tchotchkes&Co: How We Opened a Bookish Gift Shop

Have you ever found yourself looking at something that you were about to buy and thinking ‘I could make this myself, only better’? This is exactly what happened to my sister Amra and me after a rather underwhelming gift shopping expedition. This was several years back. She was still a student, and I was teaching and scribbling my poems and stories, and the idea was one of those fleeting flashes of inspiration that came to us as we vented our frustrations on the drive home. Little did we know at the time that this idea was going to develop roots and end up blossoming into the vibrant thing that Tchotchkes&Co is today!

How It All Began

The two of us grew up in a household filled with books, odds, and ends – visualise something along the lines of Lorelai Gilmore’s place, where objects are given names and imbued with sentimental value. We spend our days with our noses between book covers surrounded by bookshelves filled with bookworm paraphernalia. These vibrant knickknacks have made lockdowns bearable and they make our home feel warm and cozy and, well, safe. We also love giving our friends gifts that will spice up their living space and bring them joy. However, lately, we realised that we wanted something fresh, humorous, spirited, and joyful, and this is how we decided to make it ourselves.

Ricky with Tchotchkes&Co Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Tote

From a caffeine-overload-induced rant to the actual webstore, Tchotchkes&Co has gone through a number of phases. At first, we were brainstorming ideas and products, unaware that that was what we were actually doing. Until there was this moment last year when we realised that there was an actual possibility and that it just needed a plan to be executed.

What’s in a Name?

We were at the beach here in Dubai, swimming in the deep end away from the crowd, our heads bobbing up and down with the motion of the waves.
‘Let’s call it Bookish… I don’t know, Bookish something,’ Amra was saying as she squeezed the water out of her bun. The temperature was around 40 degrees Celsius, and I felt that my slow cooking brain couldn’t keep up with her.
‘Why call it Bookish anything. It sounds kind of limiting. Let’s call it simply Tchotchkes,’ was the last meaningful thing I said before the heat and the sea lulled me into the ‘beach day’ kind of mellow stupor.
Afterwards, Amra scrambled out of the water and wrote ‘Tchotchkes’ into her Notes app. The next day, when we were cool and dry, Tchotchkes turned into Tchotchkes&Co, and then it all began.

Detail from Tchotchkes&Co Jane Austen Has Something to Tell You Tote

It Just Got Real

The name grounded us. If it has a name, it exists, and it was up to us to make sure of that. What followed were months of gathering commercial and trade licenses, exploring graphic designers, testing online platforms, setting up the website, and, most enjoyable of all, going through piles of books and coming up with the designs.

The outcome: A carefully crafted batch of products inspired by our love of classic literature, nature, coffee, and (of course) cats, which aim to inspire, brighten your days, and bring you joy.

Detail from Tchotchkes&Co Sherlock’s Violin Tote

Products: Totes, Notes, and More

We currently offer bookish totes, colourful mugs, floral notebooks, and many other cheerful goodies. We’re constantly adding new products, so make sure that you check out some of the most popular and beloved ones such as Mad Hatter’s Whimsy, the Jane Austen Set, and the Sherlock Holmes Collection.

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