March 2012 - May 2013
SHOP PLAY TALK ONLINE تسوقي تسلي تحاوري على اإلنترنت
KHALEEJESQUE, MAY 2013
NOUN, APRIL 2013
BAZAAR, APRIL 2013
BUSINESS OF FASHION, APRIL 2013
BRITISH VOGUE, MARCH 2013
L’Orient Le Jour MARCH 2013 1. First, you were born in Lebanon. When and which circumstances did you decide to leave the country? Due to the war and my father’s business, I never lived in Lebanon. I was lucky to grow up in family with strong roots. At home we spoke Arabic, we ate kibbe bi laban and tried to go to Lebanon to see my family and grandparents as often as we could. I still visit regularly and will be in Lebanon next week speaking about my experience as an entrepreneur the New Arab Women Forum in Beirut. 2. How many years were you in New York? I spent my formative years in New York and initially stayed there to work in the investment banking sector before moving to London. 3. Did you have relations with the Lebanese-Americans? Growing up in New York was very exciting as I was always surrounded by new and different people and cultures. Lebanese Americans were also an important part as well. The Lebanese embassy was close by, the Arab American bankers association organised events periodically and family and friends who also left due to the war were around us 4. Do you think that the fact that you are Lebanese made you more confident to change your career and start in fashion e-commerce? Being of Lebanese origin has had positive effects on the way I think and act. Firstly, growing up in a home proud to be Arabic, helped fire up my passion for the region and inspired me to set up DIA-style.com. Moreover, speaking French, English and Arabic, a trait shared by many Lebanese, gave me the ability to communicate with a diverse group of people. Also, the Lebanese are known for their entrepreneurial spirit, from opening a restaurant to driving a car backwards down a highway. Having such inborn skills has definitely helped me in the world of being an entrepreneur and starting up my own businesses. 5. How did you first live this experience? What were the difficulties? The most frequent question we got when we first launched the site was ‘where can we find your shop?’, but that’s less of an issue now. Also, some of our customers didn’t have credit cards or were afraid of buying online; we therefore offered solutions to help our customers get what they want. Our online and telephone customer services team always take our customers carefully through every step of the process. 6. Do you have a lot of Lebanese clients that buy from DIA-style? If yes, where do they live? We have many Lebanese clients buy from us; actually our first order was from a lady in Broumana. The Lebanese have a great sense of fashion style and have responded very positively to the site as they can easily browse over 50,000 products from over 1,200 designers from Burberry, Michael Kors, Nina Ricci to Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Gucci. To give you a few examples we have about 5,000 shoes, 500 gowns and 4,000 bags. All of these are available through a secure checkout and can be delivered to Lebanon or anywhere in the Middle East within a few days. This breadth of on-season and on-trend fashion items that we have on our site is enticing customers from physical stores. What we hear from our customers is that they can’t find a particular item in the stores in Lebanon, or maybe it has sold out or has not been purchased by stores in the country and - that is why they come to DIA-style.com. 7. Finally, what’s your opinion about the sector of e-commerce in Lebanon? What should be done to make it better? Consumers in Lebanon are getting familiar with and appreciating the convenience of shopping on line and I often meet people who are setting up a new e-commerce venture. I have noticed that one of the major hurdles is still the limited payment gateway options. This lack of competition with only two main providers keeps bank charges high per transaction and limits payments options. This is tough for start-up e-commerce businesses who either have to absorb the cost or pass it onto their customers.
L’ORIENT DU JOUR, MARCH 2013
CRÈME DE LA CRÈME, MARCH 2013
HARRODS LAUNCH ARTICLES, FEBRUARY 2013
OASIS MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 2013
BOLD MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY 2013
KHALEEJESQUE, FEBRUARY 2013
HIA MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2012
HIA MAGAZINE DECEMBER 2012 Internet fashion entrepreneur and DIA-style.com CEO Rasha Khouri in an interview for Hia Magazine, Jeddah Entrepreneur Rasha Khouri and CEO of DIA-style.com shared her expertise in luxury fashion e-commerce with a group of Saudi students during two conferences at the Dar AlHekma College in Jeddah and at Harvey Nichols in Riyadh under the patronage of HR Rima Ben Bandar Al Saud where she spoke about her experience within finances and ecommerce and the successes she achieved as a pioneer in the world of luxury e-commerce. In the beginning of her exclusive interview with Hia Magazine, Rasha expressed how thrilled she was meeting a group of talented young Saudi women who were looking forward to entering the business and e-commerce domain; and she added that, “our site is the first digital portal in Arabic and English for luxury e-commerce for the Middle East, bringing the best on-trend on-season pieces from around the world by famous designers and brands to fashion lovers in the Middle East. We have created Arabic terms for lots of international brands translated to Arabic for the first time, and we set up the first fashion lexicon in Arabic. It is important for us to know that our customer is comfortable using our site and shopping on DIA-style.com as it is not only an e-commerce platform but also a lifestyle space where one can discover the newest fashion trends and discuss with other fashion lovers through our forums. I am also planning in the near future to work with designers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and increase our selection of abayas, in addition to entering childrenswear and menswear especially the Emirati thobe by working with renowned fashion houses in Saudi Arabia such as ‘Lomar’ and ‘Tobi’.” What are your impressions about the woman in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? The Saudi woman is the world’s most ambitious woman with a strong passion for fashion who strives to be the best. She has a strong interest in fashion and I was impressed by the high attendance and participation of young women during the conferences held in Jeddah and Riyadh. About her experiences with business and e-commerce, Rasha said: After working in finance and business I realised there was a gap in the fashion e-commerce industry waiting to be filled. After graduating from the European Business School INSEAD in Paris, I worked with JP Morgan in New York as an investment banker before merging my interest in fashion with finance as a luxury goods analyst at Merrill Lynch and UBS, in London. In 2010 I decided to invest my knowledge and experiences in addition to my love for fashion to found an online website with a western and Arabic twist at the same time. And that is how DIA-style.com was launched, DIA symbolising light, and provides the Arabic woman with the best on-trend fashion. It was important for me to build a large online store bringing together a wide range of international designers and brands in one place. In fact our site today counts no less than 50,000 luxury pieces from designers such as ‘Christian Louboutin’, Gucci’, ‘Jimmy Choo’, ‘Dolce & Gabbana’, ‘Roberto Cavalli’, ‘Versace’ and ‘Giuseppe Zanotti’! Our aim is to put together as many items and brands in one single place, in addition to a wide range of exclusives and limited edition items not available in any other stores. We have over 300 designs by Christian Louboutin including the classic ‘Pigalle’. We’re not going over the top by saying our site allows women, who are passionate about shopping and fashion to browse and shop from the comfort of their homes, without having to go on different websites, because DIA-style.com gathers the best online e-tailers such as net-a-porter.com, mywardrobe.com and stores like Brownsfashion and MatchesFashion, we are responding to the market’s needs and demands.
Why do some people still fear shopping online? It is certain that there are some fears regarding the online shopping experience, and some women still hesitate when it comes to buying on the internet, but shopping on well established and trusted websites has become very safe and is more commonplace now. Therefore we are still need to build further awareness regarding safe and trusted online shopping and that is what we are trying to do through our forums where women can discuss and share any opinions about fashion or shopping etc. Is there a competition between online shopping sites and online magazines? On the contrary, online shopping sites and online magazines can complement each other. In fact, quality sites like Hia magazine www.hiamag.com offer valuable information and insights to women about the newest fashion trends, bringing the best catwalk shows without selling any products. Whereas on DIA-style.com our visitors can browse and purchase the latest on-trend luxury pieces; therefore their roles are different and collaborations are very beneficial, especially with an established magazine like Hia considering it is one of the top Arabic magazines on the market and has a dynamic online site. Is online shopping easy? Especially that some women prefer shopping using their senses? Online shopping is easy and fun, and allows people who don’t like to travel to receive goods in the comfort of their own homes. It is also a new channel to access luxury clothing and accessories especially relevant to the new generation who enjoy using the internet and the new technology. It is important to know that one of the reasons DIA-style.com was launched in Arabic, is the growth in interest in online in the Middle East. According to a study published in January 2012, by Euromonitor International, the Middle East spends over 11 billion USD on online shopping, an amount which will be doubled by 2016 to reach 2.2 billion. In fact our customers know what thety want and know how to shop it but they are looking for an express service without having to travel the world looking for that particular luxury item. Therefore, to women who still think that online shopping lacks of the personal experience, I say that feelings and emotions are present on our site since DIA-style.com offers items that are not available in stores in the Middle East, and I believe that the excitement of obtaining those exclusives brings a satisfaction that you don’t get anywhere else. Studies indicate that online shopping is here to stay and will develop further in the coming years to become integrated into everyone’s lifestyle. Products on our site are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week offering a secure payment and a fast delivery from the designer to your home. We choose all our products carefully making sure we respond to the region’s needs and demands, bringing our customer the latest fashion trends and news from around the world, giving women an insight to less well known but new luxury designers and helping young Arabic women develop their own style and discover what suits them best.
SAVOIR FLAIR.COM, DECEMBER 2012
LIVINGWELL MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2012
HAYA MAGAZINE, NOVEMBER 2012
ASHARQ-AL AWSAT, JULY 2012
ASHARQ AL-AWSAT JULY 2012 There's no doubt that globalization, the internet, and other technologies have changed numerous perspectives in our day-to-day lives. And by that we don’t just mean the revolutions, which were sparked by social media, but also the way we shop, that too has changed forever. Despite the scepticism about the internet’s security and lack of physical presence, numbers show that whilst the financial crisis caused a decline in retail sales of many fashion houses, they have also seen sizeable increase in their e-commerce sales. The birth of many dotcom companies in the Middle East is therefore not totally unexpected, fuelled by the success of sites such as Amazon, NET-A-PORTER, and THE OUTNET and many more, developing an Arabic luxury fashion e-commerce site was only a matter of time, it required a mindset that combines commerce with fashion in order to begin the journey, or should we say challenge…one that was accepted by Rasha Khouri, who was armed with her education and experience, and driven by her love of fashion. Rasha is a thirty-something multicultural Palestinian who lived in Beirut, Paris, and New York before settling in London 12 years ago. This challenge gave birth to DIA-style.com, a site that has 50,000 plus items designed by international names in fashion and accessories, on the site you can swiftly see everything you can imagine in terms of luxury items, from all over the world - in a single click you’ll feel as though the world is in your hands. According to Rasha, the site is a one-stop shop where you don’t have to go from one site to another to search for a certain item because it puts together products from NET-A-PORTER, my-wardrobe and stores such as Browns and Matches. She adds that partnering with these sites is advantageous, “they obviously have the experience and a strong relationship with the designers, which means that DIA-STYLE.com can offer the best possible selection of quality items.” Furthermore, the site takes into consideration the Arabic audience in terms of both culture and taste. “We chose products that are a good fit with the market, and soon we’ll add a section for abayas.” Rasha Khouri’s success didn’t come from nothing: she loves fashion as well as the internet and technology like most of her generation. The only difference is that she made use of her education and her experience in finance and business, and spotted a gap in the market that was waiting for someone to fill. She is an INSEAD graduate and worked as an investment banker specialist in Merrill Lynch and UBS, where she specialized in luxury goods. Rasha says that this period facilitated her change in career because she discovered what the luxury industry is all about, and served to heighten her interest in it. In 2010, she decided to invest her education and experience in a website with a western and eastern taste. This is how “DIA-BOUTIQUE.com” was born, which was named after the Arabic word “Dia” which means light, which will illuminate the Arabic women’s path to fashion. Rasha defends online shopping saying that its easy, fun, and most of all democratic. It is an opportunity for those who cannot travel for any reason to now get access to items that they once needed to travel to get hold of. The site does not compete with the design houses and designers; on the contrary, it is an opportunity for them to address an audience that is internet savvy. In other words, it is a beacon helping selling products faster than ever, especially by utilizing facebook and twitter, as well as other social platforms, in order to communicate with their customers without intermediaries.
According to Rasha, the site received 40,000 visitors within two months on both English and Arabic pages. “We are also communicating with our audience via new online platforms such as Pinterest. As an online business it is key to have a solid presence on the web where users can find us through multiple channels and arrive as our site with a simple click.” Rasha adds that, “the Arabic site was launched in February and that due to the Arab world’s interest in social media and internet the market is growing fast.” She continues by saying,“ I saw from research into the luxury fashion market in the Middle East that there weren’t any Arabic e-commerce sites selling on-season accessories and ready-to-wear from the big European and US luxury fashion brands, therefore I decided to launch DIA-style.com in Arabic as well as English to address this. The region is leap frogging in the use of digital and is getting very savvy.” A study published by Euromonitor in January confirms that the Middle East spends around 1.1 billion USD online, which will double by 2016. “Our DIA-style.com customer wants the best on-trend and on-season pieces from luxury brands, a wide offering, and the convenience of having these delivered to her door. She may not always be in Europe to get the latest products, or be able to find the key trend product in the stores Middle East. She also wants to know she is seeing the best selection of products - DIA-style.com has the largest selection of pure luxury product with over 50,000 pieces from brands like Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Giuseppe Zanotti, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino and Versace. Also you can find limited edition and exclusive products that you cannot find in stores or that are unique to one particular boutique. In a site like ours, customers have access to this entire product in one place. For example DIA-style.com has over 300 styles from Christian Louboutin including from the classic Pigalle shoes to the newly launched 20th Anniversary collection.” Rasha acknowledges that still some people are hesitant, and do not shop online, but she assures that shopping from reputable sites is safe and on the increase, and some of those sceptics became converts after they tried internet shopping. The main factor in convincing them to try internet shopping has been word-of-mouth, a significant influencer and an effective tool. For those who believe that the shopping experience is grounded in the emotional and tactile experience, Rasha responds by saying that her site offers products that are the large part not present in the ME market, and that getting your hands on this hard to find product is a joy itself in terms of shopping experience. ‘We’ve also added some services such as connecting with stylists, who offer advice, suggestions and ideas, which renders the experience more human.’ But Rasha believes that this kind of shopping will not impact on regular shopping in stores and malls, and she thinks that one day they might become “two faces of the same coin”, and sooner than we think due to the rapidly changing lifestyle of women in relation to the time and requirements. This will cause more stores to put their products online, and although some stores have been slowly and carefully adopting this change initially, it didn’t take them long to realize that the culture of shopping is changing so drastically, that not keeping up with the times might cause them to suffer in the face of competition. All signs indicate that ecommerce is here to stay and that it will become a way of life in the future.
AHLAN! ARABIC, JUNE 2012
AHLAN! ARABIC JUNE 2012 Rasha Khouri, you are the founder and CEO of DIA GROUP, a business specialized in online fashion. Tell us what motivated you to establish this group and enter the world of fashion after starting a career as a banker? Fashion has always been one of my passions and from quite an early age I wanted to work in the fashion industry. Though initially my career led me in quite a different direction, working in the investment banking sector in New York, I was later able to fuse both my interest in fashion and business as a luxury goods analyst at Merryl Lynch in London. During my time there I worked on brands like Burberry and Tod’s, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Hermès. Whilst I enjoyed my time working within a corporate environment I always had in mind that I wanted to create and shape my own business. I did an MBA at INSEAD which equipped me with the tools to set up my own business. In 2010, you have launched DIA-boutique.com website as a link between designs that hold the signatures of independent world known designers and customers from all over the world who have a luxurious taste. You have also launched DIA-style.com, a site for communication in the world of luxury fashion. Can you tell us what’s the difference between those two sites and do they complement each other? I saw that there was an opportunity and a gap in the market for high end and luxury e-commerce for the Middle East and tested the water DIA-BOUTIQUE.com. The site is designed for both the Middle East and global audience and is published in English and Arabic. The site serves as a showcase for independent designers from all over the world who have a unique design perspective. We have around 50 handpicked designers on DIA-BOUTIQUE including artisan sandal brand Liwan and Sarah’s Bag from Lebanon, Fyunka bags from Saudi Arabia, Dareen Hakim bags and Deepa Gurnani accessories based in New York the person who buys on our site loves unique and hard-to-find pieces. DIA-style.com however caters specifically to the Middle East market and works with established global luxury brands and designers. We have over 50,000 pieces of ready-to-wear and accessories from over 1,000 brands. Designers range from luxury shoe and accessory brands like Giuseppe Zanotti, Christian Louboutin to key trend driven international fashion houses like Celine, Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, Tod’s, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent as well as up and coming and directional young designers like Prabal Gurung, Phillip Lim, Peter Pilotto, Mary Katrantzou. We also have over 1,000 pieces of lingerie from key lingerie brands La Perla, Agent Provocateur and Elle McPherson Intimates as well as a huge selection of swim and beachwear from brands like Missoni, Vix, Melissa Oderbash, All of the items which come from Europe can be ordered securely over the internet be delivered to the Middle East within a few days. What distinguishes your companies in the Dia Group from other online fashion shopping websites? DIA-BOUTIQUE.com was the first pure women’s fashion site in Arabic and DIA-style.com is also the first to offer onseason and on trend luxury fashion to the Middle East. We have a team of European and Arabic experts in the fields of buying, merchandising, development and graphic design to ensure that we provide a quality product to the consumer. What do you look for when you choose the brands that will be available through DIA-style.com? We are partnering with the most directional e-commerce retailers like NET-A-PORTER and worldclass directional boutiques like Browns and Matches in London as well as a fashion insider boutique Mytheresa in Munich and Boutique1. The buyers from these stores have developed great relationships with the brands and secure the best pieces from the designers which we in turn share. The stores are very plugged into what will be the height of fashion which ensures we have the best product on our site for our consumers to select from. For the wedding season we brought on lots of extra gowns for wedding season on DIA-style.com and we’re also looking at launching luxury abaya collections soon. Who are the customers of Dia Group, especially when DIA-style.com will be launched in Arabic language? Our consumer has an appreciation of cosmopolitan trends and lifestyles and appreciates the luxury quality offered. She is a fashion savvy and style conscious consumer who loves fashion. She may not always be in Europe to get the latest products, or not be able to find the key trend product she is looking for in the stores in the Middle East or indeed not be in a town or city where there are any stores selling luxury brands.
Who is your favorite designer and the most elegant figure in your opinion? Really difficult question, there are so many fabulous designers to chose from but this season I am in love the Lanvin collection. I particularly like the fluid draped dresses designed by Alber Elbaz which are light, feminine and have a twist of Parisian chic. As a person he is lovely and he does not take himself too seriously. For shoes, I adore Christian Louboutin’s designs he has designed an amazing capsule collection to celebrate his 20th anniversary. Do you think that the concept of E-commerce might someday compete with in-store customer experience? I think what online does best is compete on convenience and price it is great to see something online and then have it delivered to your door and consider pricing. In terms of product offering the internet offers greater choice than is possible in most physical stores. For example on DIA-style.com we have over 4,000 pairs of shoes which is the same size as the newly opened shoe gallery in London department store Selfridges. I also feel that going forwards physical stores will be about the integration of the mobile internet and the in-store experience that create value for the consumer. I think that online shopping will continue to grow more sophisticated with the development of technology. What’s the role of Digital Marketing or what’s- so- called Social Media in the success of your business? And how do you invest that in Dia Group? We have a 360 degree marketing approach and consider online and offline marketing as equally important. Social Media is a key component to our strategy. Facebook has assisted in spreading the message about our site we have over 40,000 followers on our Arabic and English pages in just a couple of months, we are building followers on Twitter and a new fun social site called Pinterest. We also find social media is a great way in addition to our email newsletter to let users when we are offering free shipping to the Middle East, or sharing when new or exclusive product arrives on the site. We have a small team dedicated to our social media activities and intend to grow this in the future. Do you think that you have fulfilled your dream? Or you still have greater ambitions? I want to have a positive impact in a region that I love, to inspire young people to follow their dream and to have the courage to set up their own business from a concept they develop. Both my business are still quite young so I would like to grow these too and move into new languages. Describe for us your daily routine. The first thing I do when I wake up is check my email and see that our sites are up and running ok. I usually have a fresh fruit smoothie for breakfast whilst sitting on the sofa in my living room and read a fashion trade newspaper on my Ipad so I can keep up on what’s going on in the fashion business world. I check my Facebook and then go onto style.com and browse their stories of the day so that I have my finger on the pulse of what’s going on style wise. On weekdays I go straight into the office unless I have external meetings. There are no two days that are the same; it might be meeting new designers, going through investor presentations, discussing the marketing schedule and so on. After work on a weekday I enjoy having a quiet dinner with friends at a restaurant or going to see a concert around fashion weeks of course it is quite a different story. At the weekends I love to go walking I particularly enjoy walking by the Thames or Holland Park one of the beautiful green spaces near my London apartment. What are the activities you do apart from work? I enjoy dinner with friends after a long day at work, going to concerts and listening to music. I enjoy different kinds of music from classical to pop.
M MAGAZINE KUWAIT, APRIL 2012
EMIRATES WOMAN, JUNE 2012
SAVOIR FLAIR.COM, APRIL 2012
ALLTHINGSDIGITAL.COM, APRIL 2012
VELVET MAGAZINE, MARCH 2012
HARPER’S BAZAAR ARABIA, MARCH 2012
GRAZIA MIDDLE EAST, MARCH 2012
ILOUBNAN.INFO, MARCH 2012
WAMDA.COM, FEBRUARY 2012