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KENZO + BROWNBOOK

High flyer Deem Albassam is a Saudi entrepreneur with a difference. She has passion and determination that has prepared her for a successful career


writer

––––––––––––––––––––––– danielle simpson ––––––––––––––––––––– russ kientsch

photography

KENZO + BROWNBOOK


Deem Albassam is a young, dynamic and creative entrepreneur for whom reinvention and urban street style are of the utmost importance. In this way she personifies the bold, bright and beautiful tones of KENZO's latest collection. The Saudi national has dedicated her career to supporting start-up businesses and therefore she is delighted to be associated with the rebranding and relaunch of the renowned fashion house KENZO. Albassam represents the kind of vitality present throughout the new KENZO collection and her choice of streetwear combined with the elegance of her national Gulf dress embodies the KENZO philosophy. A person of contrasts, she marries the sophisticated formality of businesswear with the joie de vivre of Gulf fashion. In the week she is a shrewd entrepreneur and at the weekend she soaks up nature with her passion for outdoor activities. A keen horserider and kite surfer, Albassam has found the perfect work and life balance.


KENZO + BROWNBOOK


KENZO + BROWNBOOK


For as long as she can remember, Deem Albassam has had an entrepreneurial streak. Whilst still at university – the American University in Dubai, from which she obtained a degree in Marketing and Business Administration in 2008 – she came up with her first business plan. ‘There were already a lot of franchises in the region, but nothing which really represented the people of the region,' she says. So she took matters into her own hands. 'I wanted to do something in either retail or catering and I came up with the idea for Switch. We launched in Dubai Mall in 2009.’ Switch is a concept restaurant with a focus on Meditteranean dishes that have a contemporary twist. It is the first restaurant in the UAE to be designed by Karim Rashid.

Albassam explains that she wanted the restaurant to have a futuristic design ‘with clear roots into our local culture.’ Design and implementing ideas are two of Albassam’s passions and in February this year she co-founded Innovation Machine to help would-be entrepreneurs in Dubai, Qatar and Saudi Arabia come up with ideas and implement them. ‘Our vision is to contribute to the region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem through innovative start-ups,’ she explains. ‘I love startups and working on campaigns and projects. My aim for the future is to support all start-ups in the region. These are very interesting times of change for us; a wake-up call to everyone. And entrepreneurs, prepared to leave their comfort zone, can start to emerge.’


As a Saudi female, Albassam is no stranger to overcoming adversity. ‘Most people find it interesting that I am challenging the stereotypical view of the Saudi woman’s role,’ she says. ‘To succeed you have to fail. To be an entrepreneur you need to be determined and focussed. No matter how many times you fall down you need to get up and try again. Always learn from your mistakes.’ In complete contrast to her work persona, one of Albassam’s other passions is kite surfing. After completing her training in Spain three years ago, she can now be found regularly pursuing the sport in Dubai. ‘There are many similarities between humans and kites,’ she explains of her hobby, enigmatically. ‘Kites rise against the wind, and I believe that if you have a cool idea, you have to fly with it. As humans we need to rise against challenges and then

KENZO + BROWNBOOK

fly with them. As Hamilton Wright Mabie said “Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind.”’ Currently collaborating with the fashion house KENZO on the relaunch and repositioning of its brand, Albassam confesses that whilst she dresses fashionably, her natural style is more sporty and streetwear. ‘I’m more of Nike sneakers sort of girl, than into designer wear,' she says. She chose to collaborate with KENZO for the next season's fashion show, which will be held in Dubai, because the energy of KENZO represents who she is. ‘The range is colourful and light; I feel like it boosts your energy when you wear it. The contrast between the colours used is interesting and inspirational.' A description that would fit Albassam herself.

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KENZO + BROWNBOOK Deem Albassam is a Saudi entrepreneur with a difference. She has passion and determination that has prepared her for a suc...

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