Instagram, and social media generally, is an efficient tool I use to keep me connected to Jordan. It is my gate to finding the next venture, restaurant or individual I want feature on my blog. A Minute Marvel, an Instagram account by Darine Alashy, has been rolling take overs since lockdown was announced in Jordan mid of March. It is inspiring to look into the lives of unique minds, creative individuals and entrepreneurs. Almost every day, Darine allowed those individuals to share their daily lockdown routines, posting stories about how they are coping with the current COVID-19 situation. A particular ‘take over’ was delightfully eye catching with a fresh concept for luxury tabletop rentals in Amman, Jordan.
“We love to host dinners and entertain our family and friends. Both myself and Sumaya struggled to set up our own lunch and dinner tables at times when we invited a relatively large group of people,” says Zeina. “Every household around the world might face similar issues, especially if you want to impress your invitees and create memorable gatherings,” she adds. The friendship between Sumaya and Zeina took a turn July 2019, when they both decided to venture into a new business that will spice up their lives and bring joy to many others. “We wanted to introduce a concept to help households throw and organize lunch/dinner parties at their homes, however we did not want the label of an event/wedding planner. Our vision was clear, but we needed to work on our business model to ensure that we stand out in the market,” Zeina adds. After many brainstorming and research sessions, market studies and evaluation, The TableTop Co was brought to life. The creative background Zeina and Sumaya acquired whether in university or their latest jobs was very essential to the growth of their new venture. “It requires taste, sophistication and attention to details.”
It was an unusual launch for The launch for The TableTop Co. “We took our first tablespace 324km south of the capital: a press dinner for the Jordanian fashion designer Nafsika Skourti,” says Zeina. “It was an intense beginning for our brand. We had to be very organized and manage the 14-guest seated dinner to the utmost attention. The guests profile of representatives for fashion magazines in the Middle East (Elle and Vogue, among others) added another depth for the little stress and excitement we were experiencing,” she explains. An invisible LED-lit room hosted the clear table and the set of 14 clear plexi-glass chairs. The table top was inspired by nature and the wilderness of Wadi Rum; a floor of red sand and a backdrop of breathtaking mountains! “The chinaware was customized with original Nafiska Skourti design: an orchid print. It was the inspiration for the entire tablespace. We implemented a color theme to blend into the surroundings and used center pieces of natural and local materials,” she adds. “It was one of a kind experience and the perfect start for The TableTop!”
Once approached by the client, Sumaya and Zeina set a meeting to understand the needs and purpose of the lunch/dinner taking place. A site visit is essential to be able to suggest the most suitable theme and mood board to match not only the space, but the client’s desire. “At this stage, we build rapport with our clients and we try to understand their needs. It is an essential part of our work. We base the proposed designs on the information we collect and we build up on them keeping in mind the client’s touch and personality in every detail of the tablespace,” Zeina explains. The client can choose between tableware rental services or the added on services they provide: personalization, center pieces, flower arrangements. “Flexibility is a key. We offer a wide range of services and we aim to accommodate different clients’ profiles. Our showroom has a vast variety of styles that we source from around the world. We have items from London, New York and Berlin, most of are either handmade or customized to suit the market,” she adds. “The small scale events and the table set ups we deliver are very intimate. Trust is essential in such situations when the client is attentive to details and pretty particular about the final result. We take care of every detail and we deliver what we promised (and what the client expect) without their intervention and supervision, it is what we like to call a ‘stress-free’ experience!”
A lot of effort must be placed to be on top of the business and ahead of the game. The different tastes, seasons and occasions The TableTop Co needs to deliver requires constant hunt for unique designs and to be up-to-date with the latest trends. Collaboration with the community of local artists is witnessed throughout the events The TableTop has been involved in. As each event is different than the other, Sumaya and Zeina think out of the box and try incorporate the works of different artists in their designs. “We try to shine a light on emerging and existing artists through utilizing either their designs or products in our tablespaces. It enriches each tablespace while differentiating it from others,” says Zeina. “Similar to our collaboration with Nafsika Skourit to customize the chinaware for the press dinner, we aspire to create more signature collections for The TableTop. We recently joined efforts with Reverie to personalize embroiled napkins for a bistro chic dinner we planned. It is as well worth to mention that we continuously work with our local lab to customize center pieces and candles to suit every occasion.”
Product care is essential, especially when it is related to delicate items that need to be handled with care. “We inform our clients not to wash the equipment they use, although some insist on doing so,” says Zeina. “We do not want to lose the value of the signature collections we import. Slight damage to any item jeopardize the whole collection.” At their cleaning facility, each item is handled individually ensuring proper washing, sanitizing and is flawless and damage-free. The equipment are counted and wrapped in batches to facilitate the inventory management of the 2500 pieces (or more) The TableTop keep in store. “Although it is a time consuming process we find it very important for maintaining the quality of the our equipment- is essential for client retention and our growth,” she adds.
The launch in July last year brought a lot of attention to the young business of The TableTop Co. “The market response was great, we did not expect such a strong start,” says Zeina. The leasing concept of their tableware attracted event and wedding planners to the extensive library of styles and designs they own. Renowned names in event planning in Jordan work closely with Zeina and Sumaya to rent the tableware to upgrade their events. “We created an opportunity for event planners to get more creative in their tablespace designs. A lot of our clients are of the biggest names in event planning in Jordan. We work hand in hand to suggest the best tableware and utensils to suit their theme,” Zeina explains. While the focus of The TableTop Co is to find an alternative for the individuals who like to upgrade their gathering, lunches and dinners by offering their tableware rental services, Zeina and Sumaya are thrilled when a client asks for their creative table setup services. “We enjoy being involved in creating a memory. We organized several events including the annual dinner for Inhale Jo and a corporate event for Abdali Hospital. It was a very busy season for us. We had a time where most of our equipment were leased!” Zeina exclaims.
With the restrictions being eased in Jordan post the COVID-19 lockdown, The TableTop couple are hoping to be back in business again. “We are certain that normality is around the corner. Life will bring people together again very soon. We are eager to be part of creating post-lockdown memories and help making these gathering very special.”
Pictures credit: The Table Top Co