Emirates Woman - October 2021

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Bold. Brave. Fearless.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Obaid Humaid Al Tayer MANAGING PARTNER AND GROUP EDITOR Ian Fairservice EDITOR/ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER Amy Sessions amy.sessions@motivate.ae SENIOR ART DIRECTOR Olga Petroff DIGITAL EDITOR Olivia Morris JUNIOR DIGITAL STYLE EDITOR Sarah Joseph GENERAL MANAGER PRODUCTION Sunil Kumar ASSISTANT PRODUCTION MANAGER Binu Purandaran PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Venita Pinto CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER Anthony Milne GROUP DIRECTOR Andrew Wingrove DIGITAL SALES DIRECTOR Sabir Khodabux GROUP SALES MANAGERS Bindu Gupta bindu@motivate.ae Chaitali Khimji chaitali.khimji@motivate.ae SENIOR SALES MANAGER Neha Kannoth neha.kannoth@motivate.ae GROUP MARKETING MANAGER Joelle Albeaino WEB DEVELOPER Firoz Kaladi

HEAD OFFICE Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE, Tel: (+971) 4 4273000, Fax: (+971) 4 4282261, E-mail: motivate@motivate.ae DUBAI MEDIA CITY SD 2-94, 2nd Floor, Building 2, Dubai, UAE Tel: (+971) 4 390 3550 Fax: (+971) 4 390 4845 ABU DHABI PO Box 43072, UAE, Tel: (+971) 2 6772005, Fax: (+971) 2 6770124, E-mail: motivate-adh@motivate.ae LONDON Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER, UK, E-mail: motivateuk@motivate.ae

Printed by Emirates Printing Press, Dubai

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Editor’s Letter Welcome to The Renegade Issue. the first Emirati woman to finish the Ironman in Fearless Combat In this issue we celebrate those thinking outside the box, on page 109 and Esme Chapman (Illustrator, model and daughter challenging the mainstream and taking a brave leap of faith in all of MATCHESFASHION Founders Ruth & Tom Chapman) whose forms. To be a Renegade for us, is a positive attribute in terms story of bravery and utter determination to challenge the hand she of challenging convention and daring to live by had been dealt is nothing short of awe inspiring, your own, self-governed set of principles. in Brave & Beautiful on page 106. Further afield, we look to global brands For our cover shoot The Strategist on page BE BOLD, taking their own respective industries by storm 22 we partnered with Ashfields Consultancies BE BRAVE, BE from Paris Texas in Cool Comfort on page 62, to champion Melika Yazdjerdi, Co-Founder FEARLESS. Ina Beissner in Doing Diamonds Differently on & Chief Strategist. Yazdjerdi is not only half page 52 and FEMME Founder Janis Tello in of Ashfields (which was the brainchild of Fierce Feet on page 64. Rewriting the Rules on page 88 and Leap Founder & Chief Executive Hamdan Al Hudaidi) but a woman of Faith on page 90 both take a look at the beauty industry’s new we admire for her bravery, tenacity and ability to think outside approach to products and procedures while The Wanderlust on the box – something which the consultancy is delivering to an page 130 compiles an edit of the most adventurous vacations for unprecedented level of excellence in the Horology industry. We also have exclusive interviews with Jamie Freed, Global true adrenaline junkies. Vice President, Private Client at FARFETCH (a brilliant ex In The Renegades on page 116 we spoke to some of the most mentor friend) who is the brains behind their strategy for the newly incredible women we know to ask what this approach to life launched pre-order offering in A Smart Solution on page 40, Amna means to them. For many, it means taking the leap, approaching Al Qubaisi, the first female Emirati racing driver in In the Driver’s life in an unconventional manner and embracing a new way. So… Seat on page 100, Asma Al Janahi aspiring Olympic fencer and be bold, be brave, be fearless.



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Monitor News p.18 Social Listings p.20 Cover Shoot – Melika Yazdjerdi, Co-Founder & Chief Strategist at Ashfields Consultancies p.22 Left: Watch, Delanue, Melika’s own



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Incognito p.36

The Innovator – Nensi Dojaka’s sensual, architectural pieces are designed to empower p.38


Cool Comfort – Paris Texas’ unique take on footwear p.62


Fierce Feet – Exclusive Interview with FEMME Founder Janis Tello p.64

Cool Cuts – Slashed detailing p.34 A Smart Solution – Exclusive interview with FARFETCH’s Global Vice President, Private Client p.40 Wild & Free – Riccardo Tisci for Burberry FW21 p.42

Hot New Buys p.86

Unapologetically Cut – Mônot’s latest collection p.66 Sustainable Suiting – Interview with Founder of Jina Studio p.70 Graffiti – Alexander McQueen FW21 p.74 Next Chapter – Dolce & Gabbana FW21 p.78

A Balancing Act – Bottega Veneta’s - The Wardrobe 02 p.46

A Bold Step – Interview with Serena Uziyel p.82

Cosy & Conscious – Interview with the Founder of / FAZ / p.58

The Catalyst for Change – Interview with Marriam Mossalli p.84


Rewriting the Rules – Interview with Davines Group CEO p.88 Leap of Faith – Interview with Elborno Clinic p.90 A New World of Beauty – CNB Dubai creates an exclusive beauty experience p.92 The Beauty Shelf – Esme Chapman p.96 AM to PM Beauty – Sai Ferrera, UAE-based content creator p.98


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Doing Diamonds Differently – Ina Beissner p.52

The Pad – Stand out investment pieces p.118


In the Driver’s Seat – Amna Al Qubaisi, the first female Emirati racing driver p.100 The Precision Piece – Co-Founder & CEO of Akoni, Rosario Toscano p.102 Brave & Beautiful – Interview with Esme Chapman p.106 The History Maker – Nora Al Matrooshi, the first female Emirati astronaut p.108


Fearless Combat – Interview with aspiring Olympic fencer, Asma Al Janahi p.109


En Garde – Amal Murad, the first Emirati female parkour athlete p.110 New Lease of Life – Dr Buthainah Al-Shunnar, the first Emirati female plastic surgeon p.112

Changing the Game – Interview with the founder of Klekktic, Heba El Habashy p.126 LIFESTYLE

An Artistic Interpretation – Alserkal Avenue p.114

A Pioneering Vision – Interview with architect and visual artist Ana D’Castro p.120

The Renegades – Inspirational women describe what the word ‘renegade’ means to them p.116

The Mind Switch – Interview with Functional Medical practitioner Muskan Taurani p.124

The Cover

The Wanderlust – An edit of the most adventurous vacations for true adrenaline junkies p.130 The Renegade Restauranteur – Chef Sara Aqel is heading the first fully female-led restaurant in Dubai p.134

Watch, Corum, Melika’s own


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The new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.



Dare to be different…


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Follow us on instagram.com/emiratesman

Social Listings

A curated guide of all the renegade accounts to #follow this month





This e-commerce heavyweight is taking a market share in the fashion industry, launching a new pre-order system.

Daring cut-outs make this the new brand to know.

The label fuses crisp silhouettes with an androgynous edge.

The Saudi Arabian content creator known for sharp eye and optimal beauty.





Avant-garde pieces created to reflect today’s modern woman.

Inspired by modern women from around the world, the Italian shoe label embodies the idea of contrasts.

The ultimate in off-duty cool.

Creating unique experiences and projects through their incredible connections.



Cruelty-free outerwear expertly crafted in the brand’s Parisian workshop.

@amnaalqubaisi_ official


A true renegade, Castro creates incredible, large scale, abstract paintings in mixed media.

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The first female Emirati professional racing driver.

The first fully female-led Italian Mediterranean restaurant in Dubai.




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Exclusive paintings, sculptures and photography from award-winning international artists.

Painting by Abdulrahim Salem

Photograph by Faisal AlRais

Sculpture by Ana Laserna Villa

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Melika Yazdjerdi, Co-Founder | Chief Strategist at Ashfields Consultancies & Perpétuel Gallery tells us what it takes to carve a career in Horology and how thinking outside the box makes all the difference Words & Creative Direction: AMY SESSIONS Photography: GREG ADAMSKI

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Both pages: Watch, Corum; Previous page: Watch, Delanue

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Both pages: Watch, Chopard


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Both pages: Watch, Patek Philippe

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Both pages: Watch, Audemars Piguet

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This page: Watch, Corum. All watches Melika’s own

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What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine? Meditation is a huge part of my life. It’s the first thing I do every morning, it gives me inner peace and the focus I need to tackle the day and whatever it may bring. What are the pillars of the brand and how did you define why these were important? Ashfields was established to fill a very important gap in the market. Our approach has been very different to the way things are traditionally done. Our ethos is to cultivate an environment that provides our clients with full immersive, curated experiences, strategic and tailored advice and transparency in the way we do business. We knew that if we were to differentiate ourselves, we needed to really listen to what the client wants to achieve and compliment that with the right portfolio of services and products. Constantly rewriting our strategy playbook and therefore the way we provide our services has been crucial to our success. Businesses underestimate the importance of giving clients what they need, rather than what they think the clients want. How did you know it was the right time to make the leap into doing something yourself and how did it come about? I have wanted to do something on my own for a very long time, but I guess you can say I was waiting for the stars to align. The pandemic allowed me to think and evaluate what it is that I wanted to do with my life and it also gave me the courage to take the leap when everyone was advising against it. Ashfields was the brainchild of my business partner Hamdan Al Hudaidi and during the early days of the pandemic, he decided to set up a horology consultancy. It was a chance conversation that gave us both the idea of working together and we felt that our collective experience would create something special. We were ready to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo so to speak. How did your previous roles prepare you for this leap and is there ever a right time? Every milestone in the past, whether personal or professional and every step in my career was subconsciously preparing me for this opportunity. I’ve gained a lot of experience across multiple industries and in different roles, and because of this I see myself as a shapeshifter, someone who is able to adapt and evolve within different environments. I never saw this as an advantage, but today I feel it is my greatest strength. It’s natural for someone to wait for the “right” time before they take a leap of faith, but I don’t think the “right” time is that coveted single point in time – making mistakes is human nature and failures before success build character – I say, take that leap and do what you love to do. How does being able to think outside the box equip you to build a strategy that scales the business? During the early stages of both Ashfields and Perpétuel, we found it challenging to articulate who we are and what we do. I can understand how confusing it must have been, here we are, new kids on the block taking very bold steps. But persistence and confidence in our strategy paid off and once we had our first client and partner on board, everything fell into place so naturally. Within a few months of our official launch, we had clients approaching us, telling us that they heard about us or wanting to come to see us because they were curious to know what we can do for them. We have truly been blessed to have the support of our clients and partners who share the same values as we do. Do you feel more drawn to the creative or the business side of the brand? I am a strategist at heart, but I may see strategy differently to others. To me, strategy is anticipating changing market dynamics and adapting your business constantly and creatively. Just like chess, I am constantly moving pieces around to improve, create, assess, innovate, and most importantly, anticipate our next move. What has been the biggest challenge since launching and how did you navigate this? Our biggest challenge was in articulating our business model to the industry at large. It took time and effort to fine-tune our

strategy but we stayed consistent and approached each opportunity with a very open mind. When you have strong values paired with an entrepreneur’s determination, challenges become vital to your growth as a person and are the foundation for the success of our business. Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path? Personally, the biggest influence in my life is my late mother. She is my guide and the woman I aspire to be. She taught me compassion, diplomacy, patience, and most importantly, that it was my duty to help others when I could. I miss her dearly, her wisdom guides me every day. Professionally, my husband has been the most important mentor in my life. He has taught me how to always be the best version of myself and never settle for anything less than perfect. All the influences in my life so far have given me the courage to be fearless because I am confident in who I am. Which attributes in terms of Horology are most important when considering investing? Understanding why you’re buying a timepiece in the first place is the most important aspect of any purchase. I am not a collector, but my purchases are driven by my love for true craftsmanship. Whether you’re buying a watch for investment, out of love for a brand or because you’re striving to become a collector, the driving points for your decisions are very different; and this also changes whether you’re buying from the current or the vintage market. You can also invest in watches for legacy reasons, to pass them down as sentimental heirlooms, while others invest in timepieces purely for financial reasons. But reasons can also change depending on where you are in your investment or collecting cycle. We know collectors who liquidate their collection to fund their next investment piece because they are no longer emotionally attached to the previous collection. You need to zero-in on the main factor that is driving your decision to purchase. Which watches you’ve invested in are special to you and why? To celebrate the launch of Ashfields, Hamdan helped me find a vintage Patek Philippe ref. 4960 from the late 90s. This is one of the most important pieces in my collection. It reminds me of the beginning of my new journey but also reinforces my love for beautifully crafted vintage watches. What is luxury in today’s market? Defining luxury is difficult as everyone’s perception is quite different. In my opinion, luxury is about discretion and exclusivity. In the words of Leonardo da Vinci, ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’. True luxury is about building a brand based on long-lasting relationships in any given trade. Luxury is quality, craftsmanship, legacy and history in the form of a service or product. Imagine a client who has everything or the means to purchase anything they want; you need to deliver an experience that will far exceed their expectations all the time, every time. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out? Always follow your instinct and never allow anyone to make you second guess yourself. You know who you are; go out there and be the best version of yourself. Oh, and don’t wait for the “right” time. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’, and we see thinking outside the box as a positive thing. Who for you is a renegade or what for you embodies this approach to life? Without a doubt, Steve Jobs. He broke boundaries, he was ruthless in his ambitions to achieve perfection, and he was way ahead of his time. Many viewed his approach as unorthodox but sometimes that’s what it takes to change the world. Steve Jobs forever changed the way we live our lives. I don’t think I’ve ever settled for the ordinary and I’m always bold, brave and fearless in my approach. When have you had to take this approach yourself? Most recently, I have been able to the be the complete version of myself and I know we are navigating new waters, but the result of this bold voyage will allow us to send ripples through the industry. We are taking steps where others did not venture, and the results thus far have been incredible. I know the approach is bold but I am not ready to settle for anything less than amazing!

“Businesses underestimate the importance of giving clients what they need, rather than what they think the clients want.”


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COOL CUTS Slashed detailing adds edge this season

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Medusa shield metal sunglasses Dhs980 Versace Eyewear available at MATCHESFASHION; Oversized square tortoiseshell-acetate sunglasses Dhs1,280 Loewe Paula’s Ibiza; Oversized mask metal sunglasses Dhs2,025 Gucci available at MATCHESFASHION; Aviator-style sunglasses Dhs669 Stella McCartney; Oversized sunglasses Dhs 1,904 Gucci available at FARFETCH; Filipa oversized D-frame sunglasses Dhs1,600 Loewe; Montaigne oversized square acetate sunglasses Dhs2,070 Dior; Oversized square-frame tortoiseshell acetate sunglasses Dhs1,326 Gucci Eyewear available at NET-A-PORTER




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A Smart Solution

Jamie Freed, Global Vice President, Private Client at FARFETCH is the brains behind the strategy for the newly launched pre-order offering that sees the global marketplace take market share across the industry

Tell us about your role as Global Vice President, Private Client FARFETCH? I essentially work with all business areas to develop our strategy for the most engaged and loyal customers at FARFETCH – our private clients. We spend a lot of time scrutinizing every aspect of the customer journey and offering in order to create memorable experiences for the most incredible clients in the world. I’m excited to get out of bed every day knowing that our teams at FARFETCH are working to make a real difference in our customer’s lives. Your role requires you to understand the differing demographics that exist globally. How has this impacted the decision to launch pre-order? We conduct customer research to help inform our decision making, and we really listened to the feedback received from customers all over the world when thinking about what pre-order would look like for FARFETCH. We were encouraged by the fact that so many of our customers told us pre-order was something they wanted. As we hope that many customers will adopt this way of shopping, we decided to create a democratic offering open to all customers. Which brands were key to have as part of the launch for this concept? For launch we wanted to work with brands that are both in high demand from our customers and could work with us on providing a compelling offering early in the season. You’ll soon see new brands joining our pre-order roster and new items continuing to be added from the brands included at launch. What was the most challenging aspect of this launch and how did you overcome it? What do you do when clothing isn’t yet available to be bought or shipped and how does that relate to the proposition? The most exciting and challenging part of our launch was thinking through this question in order to reimagine the traditional marketing campaign. Our teams were able to leverage innovation in a

I think that continuing to educate consumers in the benefits of pre-order will help to overcome uncertainty or resistance. What is the key piece of business advice you would impart to others? Bring your heart, mind and gut to the table every single day and make sure they’re always included in your decision-making process. How has social media affected the business and which platform has been most useful? Instagram was the platform we used for our pre-order digital only influencer campaign. We wanted to collaborate with the FARFETCH Community and build an aesthetic centred around innovative fashion with a futuristic feel. The influencers we worked digital-only way that was truly meaningful with were already familiar with the digital for the industry and the customer. fashion space and had a genuine interest in taking part in such an exciting project! We Long-term, FARFETCH hopes to go one also worked with a company called DressX stage further than pre-order in tackling fashto digitise products that will be available for ion’s sustainability issue, with a made-topre-order. DRESSX digitized 20 menswear order offering. Can you expand on this? Susand 20 womenswear pre-order looks from tainability is a major topic for the fashion the latest collections of Off-White, Balenciindustry now and we want to ensure we use aga, Palm Angels, Dolce & Gabbana, Khaite, our strengths and position to be the platand Nanushka for the launch. form for good. Positively FARFETCH was launched in 2019 and since then we have What advice would you give to your younger launched a number of initiatives and pilots. self starting out? Perfection is boring, so stop This movement empowers our community spending your energy on striving for perfecto choose positively and as a result of this, tion. When you fail, pick yourself up quickly we have set ourselves a goal to sell 100% and make time to reflect upon the pain and Conscious products by 2030. lessons learnt. If you can use failure to your One of the big causes of waste in our inadvantage and see it as a growth opportudustry is mismatched supply and demand, nity, you’ll lead fearlessly. which leads to overproduction. A model This is ‘The Renegade Issue’, and we see where pre-order is offered pre-production thinking outside the box as a positive thing. and applied at scale could help to solve this Who for you is a renegade or when have you overproduction problem and work towards taken this approach to life yourself? Amanda reducing waste in the industry. Gormon – her poem “The Hill We Climb” was a hopeful call for unity and for a nation Do you see particular regions globally adoptto heal. She did this with the world watching ing this concept and how do you engage those and didn’t hide from the reality of today and where there is more resistance? It’s still earinjustices of the past. She was frank in a way ly, but what’s encouraging is that we’ve seen that many would avoid, whilst still touching customers from all areas of the world, both in a way to move millions. new and loyal, shopping in this way with us.


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Riccardo Tisci presented a focused collection for Burberry FW21, rooted in the ferocious and sensual


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ct A Balancing Act WORDS: AMY SESSIONS

Bottega Veneta’s Wardrobe 02 collection is a balance between genders and explores the relationship between comfort, subtlety and exaggeration

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Ina Beissner is carving out a new take on modern fine jewellery with diamond inlays crafted in unexpected ways What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine? My mornings are usually quite hectic, because I have a fiveyear-old son. The first minutes of my day I spend cuddling him, then I quickly check my emails, news and Instagram. What is the DNA of the brand, its core values? Timeless and understated designs, yet refreshingly modern and sophisticated. I juxtapose Nordic minimalism with pre-columbian elements in sophisticated designs, manufactured only on request with the most precious certified ethically sourced materials. How did you know it was the right time to launch Ina Beissner and what was the catalyst for you to make the leap? After my fashion and jewellery design studies, I was seeking the perfect job in the fashion industry. I was interested in many fields, so I gathered experience in fashion PR, fashion design and editorial but could not see myself in any of those roles long-term. My heart had always beaten for jewellery as I love the three-dimensional aspect, compared to fashion design. It came to a point, where I couldn’t imagine doing

anything else but design jewellery, so I felt confident in launching my own brand. Do you feel more drawn to the creative or the business side of the brand and how have you grown the team to support this? I am definitely a creative person. Business has been a learn by doing process and very intuitive, since I never studied business – but I have grown to love the business part of the job. What has been the biggest hurdle since launching and how did you navigate this? The biggest hurdle was to find the right production site and to trust them. Fortunately, since I started my fine jewellery line, I have found an excellent manufacture in Antwerp which matches my own quality standards. Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help to navigate the right path? Since starting my label, I was lucky enough to always have the orientation of my father – a former manager with a lot of knowledge and experience, who supports me to make the right decisions. What is the inspiration for your designs and how do you ensure all pieces lead back to


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the DNA of the brand? Art and design have been present since my early years. I am inspired by tribal jewellery and every kind of art, in particular: sculptures, installations and design objects. My mother herself is a modern plastic artist – my latest collection is inspired by her and her work. Every collection is an always evolving natural extension of the DNA of my company. You have clients the globe over – do you see any buying patterns based on regions or countries and have you seen any changes this year as a result of COVID-19? First of all, throughout the markets COVID-19 has made people more adaptable to purchasing fine jewellery online. But in general, I see the US market as being very spontaneous and confident in their purchase decision, while German customers tend to exchange several emails with me to inquire about the pieces before adding these to their cart. How has social media affected the fine jewellery business and which platform has been most useful? Before the social media era, fine jewellery was only readily available in traditional jewellery stores and the occasional ecommerce platform. Media has now made fine jewellery attractive to a younger clientele. Thanks to social media its accessible to everyone and small brands and designers get the chance to offer their creations to the whole world and let their clients dive into their creative universe. For me Instagram is the most useful platform. Another obvious change is that traditional advertising has been expanded, so that the customers also became part of the advertising by wearing and promoting my brand. What tips would you give to anyone wanting to invest in a fine piece of jewellery? If you wish to invest in a piece of fine jewellery it is like buying art; it has to speak to you emotionally, since jewellery has a big sentimental component. Buy something you know you will treasure forever and inform yourself about different diamond qualities and the origin of materials and production in order to protect our planet and humanity. Which piece of jewellery that you own is most special to you and why? I can’t chose! But I have one all-time favourite piece, which are the CHIKKA creoles with interchangeable pins, my first fine jewelry creation in 2015. It is a minimalist design with a versatile approach, because I can mix and match the creoles with the pins in different shapes, materials and colours. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out? Not only to enjoy the creation process but also always keep all aspects of numbers and economics in mind.



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Nadja Axarlis founded / FAZ / from a desire to create an elegant and ethical alternative to fur-produced fashion

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What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine? I always wash my face with Avène Thermal Spray and then apply serums from Biologique Recherche. I hydrate by drinking a large glass of warm water and prep breakfast for the kids. After this I have my beloved cup of coffee. What is the DNA of the brand? Timeless outerwear pieces. Quality materials, quality design and quality craftsmanship. The brand is now created in a former furrier – is this an incredible co-incidence? I believe everything happens for a reason. I have been wanting to launch something very high-end and meeting these people was something that came to me at the right moment! We became a family since and thousands of handcrafted coats later we have never received a complaint in terms of product quality. It is expensive to produce in Paris, but I

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prefer having an impeccable product and no surplus in terms of stock. How did you know it was the right time to launch / FAZ / and how did your previous role as a buyer support your skill set in doing so? Faux fur was already a focus in 2017 when I launched the brand and researching the market, I noticed that no brands were producing anything that looked ‘real’ so there was a gap in the market to do so. The idea initially came while talking with friends in the industry who loved the look and feel of real fur but for ethical reasons were no longer wearing it. Being a Fashion Buyer certainly helped me in forming the first collection and consolidating the initial focus for the brand which was to keep it small, keep it commercial, keep it timeless. I wanted to ensure the brand appealed to every age and demographic of woman. Being a Buyer also

helped to understand how to approach the Buyers from the other side, as a Salesperson as I knew what they would be looking for. I was also lucky enough to have a great partner at home for support, an essential to the success of your project when you have a toddler and a baby at home. How important was the perfect fabrication to you and how long did it take to refine this? I’m inspired by timeless fur designs and I use the same finishing such as hooks, velvet pockets and precious lining. Best of all, we work with real fur sewing machines which isn’t something anyone has done before, and it is in our eyes a great way to maintain a skillset without the downside of producing real fur coats. Do you feel more drawn to the creative or the business side of the brand and how have you grown the team to support this? Of course, I love the creative part of the business. Going to Paris and working with the patternmaker and sample makers is so exciting. I normally go to Paris for 2-3 days at a time and we work on new ideas, make new samples and modify these ideas until they form the final design. We work the samples until they are perfect. The business side is sales focused and that is very different. There is a B2B (business to business) part and B2C (business to customer) within the winter season. Preparing the line sheets, pricing lists, organizing show rooms and having Buyers’ appointments is also very exciting. What has been the biggest hurdle since launching a new brand and how did you navigate this? In the beginning you do everything alone. I launched when I was still breastfeeding my second child and didn’t get sleep. The business took off pretty fast and I was able to get on board some admin assistants and also hire a dedicated marketing agency for support. With time, the company has grown, and I’ve been able to delegate more so I can focus on the creative side. Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path? I don’t honestly, my experience guides and mentors me. We learn how to organise ourselves and how to set priorities better each season. I see the difference between how I started out and where we stand now as a brand and I’m very proud of the growth. Which piece is your signature which drives sales season after season? The Swinger jacket and Skate Moss coat are two pieces which always drive sales. These are two completely different styles but sell equally each season which is why they are part of the continuity collection of the brand, we call them our Classics. My Buying experience taught me that when something sells, you keep it. It also taught me to keep the collection small, focused on one product, main-


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tain a commercial viewpoint and add one or two new eye-catching pieces each season. You now partner with the leading ecommerce sites globally – how did this process begin and did scaling the business bring with it any new challenges? They order hundreds of pieces in only one colour sometimes. These are serious businesses where the logistics and packaging have to be perfect. Deliveries for this level of brand cannot be delayed by even one day, as they are run with precision and we need to meet these expectations. We receive a weekly sell through report, and I am always so excited to see how many pieces per style or which colour has sold that week

in which markets. This helps me know what styles work and helps me stock the correct styles for our / FAZ / ecommerce store. How has social media affected the business and which platform has been most useful? I am a bit “renegade” about the social media honestly. I believe it is a nice business card but my whole B2B business until now has happened because of the product per se. There is a demand for faux fur. Gifting social influencers brought us more visibility, new followers and nice images, however, it did not bring new businesses or much in terms of direct sales. We own the domain www.fauxfur.com so it is self-ex-

planatory. Much has happened also after we got / FAZ / onto NET-A-PORTER. Buyers see the brand there and they probably check our website or our Instagram and contact us directly for a collaboration. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out? Don’t stress so much! Have trust and be patient. But then again… pressure keeps me going! This is ‘The Renegade Issue’, and we see thinking outside the box as a positive thing. Who for you is a renegade or what for you embodies this approach to life? You should make sure you can say one day that you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it.

“You should make sure you can say one day that you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it.” FAS H I O N

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“Stay focused and follow your instinct.”

Cool Comfort

any specific occasion. A big part of our DNA is our bold colours and materials as well as the boot shape, which is what we started with. Your designs are more daring than most. Can you tell us about your design process and if this was a key attribute from the outset? I take inspiration from everything around me. I love flowers, nature and bold colours. Colours are a huge part of the process. I start with inspiration from magazines, books and when I travel and then I source the materials based on the colour options that I have chosen. It’s always an ongoing process and never fully complete until the collection has launched, sometimes I make last minute changes because some things inspire me closer to the launch date. How challenging was it initially, to find the right factories to produce the boots and how did you ensure they are so comfortable? Since the comfort of our shoes is one of our main goals, it was very hard to find a factory that could accommodate that. As a brand we are very selective and have very high standards, we try every single style on many different women to WORDS: SARAH JOSEPH make sure they are comfortable for everyone and can be worn all day, every day. The factory that we work with is in Italy, which is very important from a quality perspective but also because we are able What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning to visit often and have more control on the quality ourselves. We work routine? I like to have some me-time in the morning. I begin the with an experienced product manager who oversees the entire process. day by practising yoga and Pilates before having breakfast at The factory side of things is a tedious process, and it definitely gets home. I then get ready and head into the office. easier with more time and experience. What was the catalyst for launching the brand and how did you Do you see any buying trends in the Middle East that differ globally? Our Midknow it was the right time? The brand was founded because I saw a gap in the market for cool shoes that are comfortable enough dle East customer doesn’t tend to buy suede at all because of the weather. to wear for day but also had an edge for the evening. Keeping the They are more focused on mules and open toed shoes, which is great as we price point was very important to me from the start. I started are not only known for our boots. However, since the DNA of Paris Texas is the brand with a small capsule in Norrgatan as well as selling the style of our boots the more international retailers in the region stock those through our showroom to other retailers. The overall feedback additionally as they are popular with the wealth of international clients they was great, and we grew from there. Everything started very natuhave. We sell a lot of bold colours and sparkly sandals in the Middle East, which we love because Paris Texas is all about colour. rally, and we went on to having a multi-brand store in Norrgatan and Baltimora in Italy, which have been there for a while now. What advice would you give your younger selves starting out? Stay focused, follow your instinct and in the end everything will be great. How had your previous roles supported the knowledge you This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – who according to you is going against the needed to make this successful? I was a buyer for a multi-brand store in Milan and as a result I have good insight into upcoming grain in their field and achieving something great? Carine Roitfeld has altrends and customer needs, through my experience. ways been a huge inspiration for me, she modernised the magazine industry, allowed women to be themselves, to be feminine at the same time What lies at the core of the brand’s DNA? Paris Texas shoes are as being strong and independent. Her daring approach to femininity was feminine and luxe but comfortable at the same time. They can revolutionary and is an approach we take with Paris Texas. be worn day and night, without the need to change your shoe for

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Paris Texas doesn’t deliver your usual footwear. We spoke to Co-founder Anna Brivio of the Italian footwear brand on how it’s changed the game for the better


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Luce Minimale - Black Dhs695 FEMME; Luce Minimale in Coco Python Dhs695 FEMME

Fierce Feet

What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine? I am totally not the earliest riser as I work really late into the night with my factories that are overseas, and I oversee all design and production aspects of the business at night and the business aspects during the day. My phone has my attention for the first 30 minutes of the day. Two of my children are in college and the baby of the family is a teen so is off to school very early every morning, so my mornings are pretty much work related. Checking emails, social media for press and confirming my schedule for the day. What is the DNA of the brand, its core values? Our core values are our brand mission. To create footwear that is sustainable, vegan and ethically produced. To create something that can be worn in Hollywood on red carpets yet be accessible and reasonably priced for everyone to access. Most people can’t afford a designer heel that cost $500+. I wanted to create something for everyone. The brand is handmade to order – why did you choose to scale the business in this way? With fashion being the second largest global polluter through mass production, we only wanted to produce what is ordered. With Covid and delays associated with closures

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and restrictions, we are now going to stock some of our best sellers in order to meet consumer demand and keep up with these unprecedented times. You’re conscious of sustainability as a brand, tell us how you manage to incorporate this as a young brand? Since our inception I aimed for vegan, sustainable and ethical production. The future is sustainable production. As I mentioned, fashion is the second largest global polluter, climate change is a serious problem and I feel we all must do our part to lessen our participation in factors that directly harm our home “our planet”. It’s a never-ending learning process but it’s the only way. How did you know it was the right time to launch FEMME and what formed the idea for the initial designs? FEMME started off with clothing in 2014. I was already in e-commerce running a multi-brand store selling other designers. I decided to create a clothing collection for fun. I did not think I would make a career of it. FEMME was successful early on with influencers and celebrity placement. Sales increased, so I began to take it more seriously, my team grew immensely, it was no longer a hobby. I put everything I had into the business. Despite all of this with fast fashion peaking in its success I could not

compete. Sales diminished and we could not stay afloat, and I had to shrink my team to juts two people, my assistant and myself. We literally handled everything: shipping, customer care, production, every aspect of the brand. I was close to depleting my savings at this point, so I brainstormed and went back to the drawing board. I found a gap in the market for vegan women’s designer footwear. I always wanted to design and produce footwear. I love heels. I went to work, researched, tested out materials, factories and this is how FEMME footwear was born. I went straight to work learning everything I could. I phased clothing out and went full force ahead with footwear. I teamed up with my PR firm Lux Life and together we grew FEMME back up from scratch. You’re based in LA – how was the brand discovered by the likes of Hailey Bieber that have grown visibility of the brand? “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” - Bill Gates Late 2018, when FEMME clothing was at its lowest point, this quote kept appearing. I do believe in timing and signs and I believe I was meant to see that quote, repeatedly. It would literally stalk me on social media and across the internet. I began analyzing and re-


FEMME was founded by CEO & Head of Design Janis Tello. A single mother of three, in her mid 30s with no formal design training she tells us how “hard work, dedication, and persistence” allowed her to make her dream a reality


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searching brands that were like FEMME but managed to stay afloat despite fast fashion. A common denominator across the board was PR. I started reaching out to agencies in October 2018 and came across Lux Life Consulting. From our initial conversation I knew she was the right fit. She understood my mission, my direction and the position I was in. Financially FEMME was a mess. I told her I needed a few months to get my finances in order and I would do my best to start the contract January 1, 2019. Pegauh, the owner of Lux Life went straight to work despite my financial issues. She knew I was hesitant based on the bad experiences I had had with other agencies in the past. She began sending me requests for placements and within a week we landed Kylie Jenner for a Kylie Cosmetics campaign. She literally worked for free for those two months. She has worked alongside me to build this brand. She gets FEMME in the room. This is how Hailey Bieber discovered the brand through Maeve Reiley’s and Pegauh’s relationship. I am forever grateful to her for believing in me and the brand. How important were the perfect proportions both visually and in terms of comfort to you and how long did it take to refine this? Comfort was a must for us. When we launched with our Mules and slippers, we had people reaching out to us that had no experience wearing heels and thanking us for making them so comfortable. Comfort is also relative to the level of expertise a person has with heels. Some love a high heel and swear they are most comfortable, and others find it impossible. We are still learning & developing new techniques for comfort and fit. Visually we aim for minimalistic designs with neutral colours, it is our signature. But we also love a pop of colour. So, we try to work with colour and materials that still are cohesive with our minimalist vibe. Do you feel more drawn to the creative or the business side of the brand and how have you grown the team to support this? I am most drawn to the creative side, but I wear many hats as we are a very small team here at FEMME. I am very hands on. I know every aspect of the business. To date I still jump in on chats with customers on our website. We are expanding but we are taking it slow and learning from the past challenges we once faced. What has been the biggest challenge since launching a new brand and how did you navigate this? The biggest challenge has been evolving with market trends and the growth of fast fashion. It almost closed our doors once. The pandemic also challenged us and continues to do so. Finding ways to evolve has been a challenge but it’s part of every business. Learning and evolving. Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path? I

have pretty much always worked alone and learned alone. I have been working since I was 12 years old. If I didn’t know how to do something I would learn. We have so many resources at our fingertips with the internet. You can learn anything online and I have always pushed myself to the limit. Which piece is your signature which drives sales season after season? Our signature piece is the Luce Minimale Lace – Up Sandal. It’s a celebrity and customer favourite. How has social media affected the business and which platform has been most useful? Social media is a driving force with any business. Instagram has been most useful to us. There are so many platforms it’s hard to keep up. I find influencers do use the platform most to display fashion and it’s been most beneficial to us by giving the brand exposure and driving sales. You’re a single mother of three and entrepreneur – how do you make this work and what advice would you give to other women with a similar dream? I have worked since my early teens and have been a mother my entire adult life. It’s all I have ever known. I had no option but to make it work. The only advice I can give anyone is, if you have a dream, do it – just start today, don’t wait for tomorrow. Starting is usually the hardest. You will fail, we all have, but keep pushing forward. It’s all part of the


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process. As mothers we can move mountains when need be. You are your greatest asset. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out? Live a little. I have always been very motivated and ambitious. I’m relentless and have had an obsessive nature from a very young age. I have worked nonstop since I was a teenager, fighting tooth and nail to make something of myself. Because of this I didn’t experience a lot that younger people do. So, if I had a do-over I would definitely “live” more. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’, and we see thinking outside the box as a positive thing. Who for you is a renegade or when have you taken this approach to life yourself? Myself. My entire life has been thinking out of the box, making something out of nothing. I rarely take no for an answer. I was born into poverty, from a broken home. Climbing out of that alone was a challenge. Being born female with societie’s glass ceilings is a challenge. Managing a career and business as a single mother was one of my greatest challenges. Nothing to this day has come easy, yet despite all of this it has made me who I am today and will continue to shape the future of who I am. There are no excuses. Moving forward and utilizing every experience and taking every failure as a lesson in order to the best version of myself.

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and femininity through intricate tailoring and craftsmanship FAS H I O N

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What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine? I wake up around 7:30 every morning. Having a consistent sleep schedule is the most important thing for me, to ensure I have enough energy during the day. I try not to look at my phone first thing in the morning, but I have to say that it’s one of my bad habits! Then, I like to start the day with a cup of herbal tea – usually thyme. On a good day, I’ll go for a quick Yin Yoga session followed by a 10-minute meditation. What is the DNA of the brand, its core values? Jina Studio was founded with the ambition of providing women with timeless yet unconventional designs, made with our planet and community in mind. The core values of the brand are authenticity and responsibility. Circularity is at the forefront of everything we do at Jina Studio. Given the challenges that the Fashion industry is currently facing, I firmly believe that we need to be exemplary, especially as emerging brands. You transform deadstock fabric in Paris into made-to-order hero pieces. Was this sustainable approach clear to you from the outset as a goal for the brand? It never even occurred to me to launch a brand the “traditional way”. As I was myself working for a luxury brand, I was very aware of the problems this industry is facing in terms of sustainability. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to create a business with a strong sense of responsibility regarding the environment and the garment workers. My first idea was to launch a vintage store as I personally love thrifting and think that buying second hand is a very powerful way to shop responsibly. When initiating this project, I started playing around with the clothes that I found. Upcycling some of the pieces that felt difficult to sell, to give them a second life. I came up with our first design, the Wrap Blazer and put it on Instagram to see if anyone liked it. I instantly felt the enthusiasm and decided to focus on upcycling rather than vintage curation and this slowly evolved into our current business model: we create small collections from existing materials only. All pieces are made-to-order, allowing us to keep waste to a minimum by only producing what we need. How did you know it was the right time to launch Jina Studio and what was the catalyst for you to make the leap? Before COVID, I was working in a French Fashion House as a Junior Collection Merchandiser. When the crisis hit, they didn’t renew my work contract. As many young graduates, I was stuck at home with no employment prospects for the upcoming months. I decided to take advantage of this life event to start my own brand. It certainly felt like the worst time to start a business, as we were all in lockdown, but very natural at the same time. The project slowly evolved and now I



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am pursuing my dream of creating my own brand, without compromising my ethics. How do you perpetually find the right fabrics and where did you start in terms of growing the brand? In the beginning, I was only creating one-of-a-kind designs, upcycled from vintage clothes. As the business grew, I decided to expand my offer into small run editions. As I live in Paris, the temple of fashion and headquarters of many amazing brands, I’m able to source deadstock fabric from independent resellers, who buy from luxury brands and resell to small businesses. It allows me to source exceptional fabrics in small quantities, something that wouldn’t be possible with manufacturers because of minimum order quantities. I also collaborate with Nona Source, a material sourcing service part of the Environmental Development Department of LVMH. They sell deadstock fabric from the Group’s Maisons de Couture. This way, we prevent beautiful fabric from ending up in landfills. Do you feel more drawn to the creative or the business side of the brand and how have you grown the team to support this? Naturally, I very much enjoy the creative part of my work, but I don’t neglect the business side at all. I always try to secure some time in my calendar for the tasks I am not spontaneously drawn to. Otherwise, I end up doing only what I love which is not sustainable from a business perspective. Fortunately, I am surrounded by an amazing group of people who support me in various aspects. I mainly work with independent pattern makers, who help me with the development of my designs. I also work with a tailor, Denise, whom I consider as family at this point. She crafts all the production by hand. It’s all very tiny and small scale for the moment but I hope to keep this intimate work atmosphere while growing the brand. What has been the biggest hurdle since launching a new brand and how did you navigate this? The biggest hurdle is honestly believing in myself and trying to be confident in the decisions that I make. When you launch a brand by yourself, you always question everything and have no one to exchange ideas or doubts with. It requires lots of confidence and I am learning every day to follow my intuition. Surrounding myself with kind and supportive people has been a blessing and helped me a lot while navigating this entrepreneurial journey. Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help navigate the right path? I received so much guidance from my peers since launching Jina Studio – whether they were working in the industry or not and this helped me define a clear vision. This is my first entrepreneurial project, so everything is new for me. I value all feedback that I receive and see it as an opportunity to grow. What is the inspiration for your designs and how do you ensure all pieces lead back to the

DNA of the brand? I always try to merge my Indian heritage and my Parisian up-bringing into my designs. Mixing codes from these two cultures and rooting my childhood memories within the designs. Jina is the name of my grandmother, a woman who had a great influence on me and my love for fashion. As a little girl, I remember being so amazed by her colourful wardrobe. When creating a new piece, I always make sure that it resonates in some way with these memories. You have clients the globe over – do you see any buying patterns based on regions or countries and have you seen any changes this year as a result of COVID-19? Paradoxically, I sell more clothes internationally than in France. From my small experience, I feel that it’s historically easier to be a 100% online business in the US than it is in Europe. I guess things are changing since COVID-19 and the numerous lockdowns we have endured. As a result, I really try to tell a story through my online presence and create a sense of community around Jina Studio. How has social media affected the business and which platform has been most useful? Social media helped me a lot! I can probably say that Jina Studio is an Instagram native brand as I started posting on the platform even before launching the brand. It’s a powerful tool that allows me to reach many people around the globe. Most of my clients discovered Jina Studio via the platform. Which piece has been your most special to date and why? I love them all, but the Wrap Blazer is my favourite because it’s our first design and it triggered a very positive response from our community. Each piece is unique which makes this design even more special! What advice would you give to your younger self starting out? I still have a long way to go but from this short adventure, I would advise my younger self to be confident and not underestimate my learning capacity. There were so many things I didn’t know before starting this brand. I learn new things every day you’re not supposed to know everything from the beginning, you’ll learn along the way. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’, and we see thinking outside the box as a positive thing. Who for you is a renegade or when have you taken this approach to life yourself? For me a renegade is someone who can break away from their own belief systems. Today, we are constantly told how we should look, behave, and feel. At some point, we internalize these norms and they become barriers, preventing us from following our own paths. Personally, I always try to question my own limitations and understand how they impact my life. Today, I feel inspired by many designers, who are changing the game and proudly promoting new identities without compromise, like Telfar Clemens or Eckhaus Latta to name a few.


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Next Chapter

Dolce & Gabbana channeled 90s robotics for an unconventional FW21 WORDS: AMY SESSIONS

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A Bold Step Having previously worked for global brands, Turkish designer Serena Uziyel launched her own unusual designs, focusing on traditional art and handicraft techniques 82 emirateswoman.com

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What does the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? I start the day very early with a 20-minute meditation session. I then take a walk around the Bosporus and if I am travelling, I try to find a pleasant walking path to clear my mind and prepare myself for the hectic day. It’s very important for me to smell the fresh air and enjoy nature early in the morning. What was the catalyst for you to launch your own brand and how did you know it was the right time? I was inspired by my rich family history and origins; my vision is sculpted by both heritage and the exploration of different cultures along with forms of artistry around the world. I’ve always dreamed of being a strong female voice in the world of accessories. I’m extremely hands-on in the design and production process, and my vision for launching Serena Uziyel was to carry on the ancient craftsman techniques. It all began with an appreciation of the past through a modern lens. How do you infuse handicraft techniques with such cool, modern designs and was this part of the brand ethos from the outset? One of the most precious values to me is heritage as it’s found in traditions and rituals. I have been raised in a family where women are powerful, inspiring and courageous. Their integrity and moral values are exhilarating and promising. My grandaunts were milliners in the late Ottoman Empire and the beginning years of the Turkish Republic until 1950s. They owned a small millinery shop behind the ancient streets of Beyoglu. They were twin daughters of a wealthy ambassador and they never married. After the loss of their father at a young age, they became entrepreneurs to support themselves, and began crafting hats catered to the elite society of Istanbul. These stories from my roots have always uplifted and inspired me. I actually display antique millinery molds from my aunts’ boutique in our very own boutique in Kurucesme. At the same time, I find my inspiration everywhere. I am inspired by life and what life has brought me to this day, mainly through history, my roots and the women in my family. I think all these elements create a beauty for Serena Uziyel’s timeless yet modern pieces. How have you incorporated your Turkish heritage into the creative process? I execute a lot of my craftmanship with the local artisans of India and Turkey. I love experimenting and being hands-on in the process of creating. The silhouettes and the details have to be exceptional all the time. The antique threads (sirma) reminds me of a beautiful, magical and an ancient world. Each artistic element


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is executed with rigorous precision, and it can take up to 50 hours to weave and execute a complicated embellishment on a bag or a shoe. It is almost impossible to repeat the same pattern or texture when crafting details like this by hand. My diverse choice of primary materials such as the metallic thread and the roughness of raffia creates a welcoming contrast to the sophisticated and feminine look of my shoes and bags. I love the contrast and textures. Metal yarns, raffia, hammered copper, twisting, braiding, wrapping are very ancient techniques, but we sit down at the atelier and spend hours to find different ways to combine this artisanal approach with a chic, modern twist. You’ve partnered with leading ecommerce platforms globally. How has this supported the growth of the brand and what challenges did this bring with it? Yes, we are very grateful to partner with leading ecommerce platforms globally. Launching online was always a part of my strategy, but it did become even more important when the pandemic put a stop to in-store shopping for a period of time. NETA-PORTER, Saks 5th Avenue, OUNASS, Level Shoes and many other platforms that we will partner with soon, continue to be a support in the industry. These major online platforms really know their customer inside and out, so we are very much thrilled with the support that we receive from them. From a visibility perspective, all these leading online platforms are incredible points of discovery for brands to tastemakers and creatives in the industry. We have certainly seen an uptick in brand inquiries since our launch with these strong partners. Despite the ecommerce platforms’ cooperation it is sometimes challenging to demonstrate our brand’s culture and intricacy of hand craftmanship. We have been working to develop our digital, content and marketing team with various partnerships and projects. We are aware that it is very important to nurture a relationship with our customers whether it’s through content, services or surprises. Keeping this in mind, we as a brand are always looking to create a special bond with the customers and building the Serena Uziyel family around the world. Which design has driven sales each season? Our signature ‘Catena’ chain detail become our most popular embellishments each season, I especially love it in the high-heel mules. Each chain in the new Serena Uziyel Catena collection is hand-embroidered with four antique golden silk threads, which are woven together to give each accessory’s chain a three-dimensional effect. With the appear-

“Shoe design and shoe making is much harder than it looks, you need to give the most of yourself to build a unique shoe.”

ance of no beginning and no end, the golden chains of the Serena Uziyel handcrafted Catena clutches and sandals are classically refined, sustainably sourced and designed for timeless elegance while simultaneously protecting the earth’s natural resources What piece of advice would you give to your younger self? Love yourself and be nice to her. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – who to you in the industry is a renegade or when have you


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approached life in this way? Giuseppe Joseph Amolo was my role model and mentor. Through my trainings with Giuseppe, I was given the opportunity to experiment with every phase of the shoe making process. Giuseppe always said, “a shoe is to be put on your feet and not under your arm,” meaning that a shoe should be aesthetically appealing, but it must also be comfortable. He taught me the importance of combining aesthetics with comfort. He had a serious personality, but he also knew how to relish in the joyful moments of life as well. One of the most important things that I learned from Giuseppe is that shoe design and shoe making is much harder than it looks, you need to give the most of yourself to build a unique shoe.

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The Catalyst for Change

hospitality, F&B, or retail, Niche Arabia is the eyes and hands on the ground for many of the biggest names in luxury. We know everyone and have our hand in everything. It took me a little over a decade to get to this point, but I was always committed to my country when many people my age were beginning their careers abroad – I fought to find my niche in Saudi, and it paid off. Today, we work with the most prestigious client, and my government on many groundbreaking initiatives and campaigns. You launched the agency 10 years ago – how have things evolved since then? When I started, Niche wasn’t just the first, it was the only bespoke luxury consultancy! And it stayed that way for years. Today, you have a few international agencies attempting to take a part of the market share, but they have one key component missing: they’re not local. At Can you talk us through your career? “A long time ago in a farNiche, we are our target audience. We know how to reach us away land…” is literally how I feel when I think of the beginning because we are essentially talking to ourselves. Add a profesof my career! Saudi Arabia was completely different – trunk shows and fashion presentations were restricted to private palsional reputation, and we are able to push the boundaries aces, and our models were basically any girl comfortable havand turn the taboo into pioneering. ing her picture taken. Fast forward 10 years later, and we have In addition to Niche Arabia, you also founded the Saudi Style Saudi models opening PFW shows, local designers being worn Council in 2019. What is the goal behind the Council? Our by Beyonce, and public fashion shows are the norm. I began goal is to become a resource for the Kingdom’s burgeoning my “fashion” career as editor of the Life&Style section for the creative industry. We are a not-for-profit trade association leading English daily in the region. I was constantly travelling that focuses on nurturing local creatives and the surroundfor shows when I thought to myself: why are we not doing this ing ecosystem, from models and art directors to photograin the Kingdom? We have the clients, yet nothing is catered phers and content creators. just for us. Enter Niche Arabia. I was 25 and way too young to The year before founding the Council, you organized the very start a consultancy, but I saw a void in the market and took the first mixed public fashion show. What an incredible achievechance. The rest is as they say is “happily ever after.” ment. How did this come about and what was the motivation How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur? I think I always behind it? I had amazing support from not just my team, had the drive in my blood. Ever since I was in elementary school, but our clients for tagging along for the journey and agreeI was selling something. In third grade, you would find me outside ing that it was time. I always say, being traditional and conon the bleachers at recess selling friendship bracelets, or hometemporary are not mutually exclusive. You can respect one’s culture yet still push the envelope in terms of expression. made neon slime… and with a whole sales team of friends! By fourth grade, I had “graduated” to handheld fans, which I sold at What are the Council’s plans to develop the fashion space in market price, but had then removed the batteries to sell separately. Saudi Arabia? We have so many amazing things lined up: From the launch of our 7alaga [English: Farmer’s Market] – a retail Can you talk us through the concept that is Niche Arabia? I’m concept housing local brands, to our sustainable showroom, basically the “Olivia Pope” of event and fashion comms! We which invites local designers to place their items for free, in assist major international agencies and brands on how to order for them to be available to stylists and content creators. speak to the Saudi luxury consumer. Whether it’s automotive,

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“Sometimes being a rebel can be a good thing,” says Marriam Mossalli. Unapologetically fearless and a woman who is truly paving the way in Saudi Arabia, Mossalli discusses how she’s broken down barriers for creatives in the Kingdom and how she’s putting Saudi Arabia on the map, with her luxury agency Niche Arabia and the Saudi Style Council


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What are your hopes for the future of women in Saudi Arabia? To continue to strive to be the best in their respective fields… the “first” syndrome needs to end, and we need to normalize our participation and with that, strive to be the best not just as Arab women, but also as individuals within our industries. How do you feel the fashion space in this region differs from other parts of the world? We are so embedded in our culture, which I absolutely love! And since we are starting a bit late, it allows us the opportunity to lead not just catch up. It’s definitely our time now. You’ve worked incredibly hard, where do you get your motivation from? I’ve always been motivated. Even as a kid, I’ve always looked at things and said, “How can I contribute? How can I make that

better?” If I weren’t an entrepreneur and philanthropist, I would have become an inventor. I think that drive comes from having parents that were never still. Both my parents are super active in both their social and professional lives. I don’t think anything is more beneficial than having real-life inspirations to model your path behind, which is why mentorship is something I advocate strongly. What advice do you wish you had received on the beginning of your journey to success? Learn to say no – I always did everything. Perhaps it was some innate millennial FOMO translated into my work ethic, but I always tried to do everything. Now, my favourite word is “no.” Looking back over your career and since launching the brand, can you tell us about some major hurdles you’ve had to overcome? At 24, I was walking into the offices of Burberry and Prada trying to convince them to take a chance on a kid in an enigmatic market. It wasn’t easy but I never took no for an answer. And ten years later, we’re still setting the pace for activations and campaigns in the luxury sector. On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are your top three milestones from your career, so far? Being invited by then First Lady Michelle Obama as the only Arab fashion industry person to the White House’s annual Celebration of Design Gala. Being voted as one of the top Instagram accounts to follow by Vogue Magazine – US. Thank you, Rihanna! Making the Business of Fashion #bof500 list in 2018 and the British Fashion Council’s global New Wave Creative list. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’, championing people who are breaking the mould. Who would you say is a renegade? Anyone who doesn’t take “no” for an answer; who refuses to accept the status quo. My mum always told me: “If you don’t like it; well, then stop complaining and do something about it!” Sometimes being a rebel can be a good thing.


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Hot New Buys C O M P I L E D BY: S A R A H J O S E P H

A curated edit of renegade beauty buys to invest in this season

Personal protection



This fresh fragrance revisits Parisian charm with a contemporary twist. Its olfactory notes include ginger, spices, alongside deep notes of Cedarwood, making it ideal for a true thrill-seeker. The Hedonist, 100ml for Dhs1,337 Ex Nihilo

Le Labo’s non-conformist approach is both heady in scent and spirit. 100ml for Dhs1,155 LE LABO

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This moisturising spray shields the skin from infrared raditation through a blend of plant extracts for some serious selfdefence. 75ml for Dhs275 Susanne Kaufmann available at cultbeauty.co.uk


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The Unconventional This lightweight moisturiser provides a burst of hydration by using unconventional marine algae. 60ml for Dhs220 Volition

ACID APPEAL This tonic uses natural fruit acids to renew your natural glow as it delivers a dangerously even skin tone. 180ml for Dhs122 Plenaire

The Leather Master Infused with leather and wood notes, this distinctly rich fragrance is as captivating as it is addictive. 100ml for Dhs844 Tom Ford

A Firm Grip

Screen Saver These collagen boosting sea, hydrogel eye patches work to relieve your eyes from the long hours of screen time. Dhs 143 DALO Beauty


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Infused with quinoa protein, this elastic leave-in cream decompresses fizziness while giving hold. 250ml for Dhs103 Bread Beauty Supply available at sephora.com

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Rewriting the Rules

As one of the pioneers in sustainable beauty, Anthony Molet, CEO of Davines Group, discusses how the brand is rewriting the rules when it comes to doing business in the industry 88 emirateswoman.com

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Can you talk us through your career? I was raised in Giremoutiers, France, before moving to Paris in 1993 where I graduated four years later from ESLSCA Business School, a Grande École de Commerce. I then joined the New York subsidiary of a French family-owned company, manufacturing high-end haircare and skincare products, rapidly progressing to the role of Sales Director first for their Salon and then Retail divisions, which also earned me the title of Executive Vice President. In 2008, I joined Davines North America as CEO. During my thirteen-year tenure, I implemented structure and continuity, resulting in steady growth that made North America a key market for the Davines Group. It is with honour and pride that I picked up the baton passed by Paolo Braguzzi, our former CEO. He paved a path for the company with a perfect balance between values, quality products and financial health, and I am looking forward to continuing this journey. Can you talk us through the history of Davines? Davines Group is an Italian family company based in Parma, operating on the international haircare and skincare markets through its Davines and [ comfort zone ] brands. The company, founded by the Bollati family, started its journey in 1983 as a research lab specialized in the creation of haircare and skincare products, serving both small local manufacturers and international cosmetics players. In 1993, the Davines brand was born for the


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professional haircare market. In 1996, the [ comfort zone ] brand was created as the Davines counterpart in the professional skincare market and this includes spas and beauty salons. All formulas are developed and produced within the Group’s laboratories at the Davines Group headquarters in Parma. Both brands are specialized in highly sustainable quality products, formulated with an artisanal spirit, and created according to the most recent and advanced cosmetic research and techniques. The Davines Group is present today in over 90 countries. Other than its Parma headquarters, the Group boasts offices in New York, London, Paris, Mexico City, The Netherlands and Hong Kong. How have things evolved since the brand launched over 30 years ago? Davines Group has been committed to sustainability for more than 15 years. Over time, our commitment has become increasingly holistic and integrated with all our processes: from the research of the ingredients for our beauty formulas up to the final product on the shelves of our salons. It’s a never-ending path, we certainly already have accomplished a lot to contain our climate impact, but we are constantly raising the bar. Today, we need to move from an extractive model that has depleted our natural resources, to a regenerative one that will allow a future for the next generations. How would you say you have changed the hair care game? In 2016, the company became a B Corporation, a company using business as a force for good to generate a positive impact on people, the planet, and communities. B Corp companies work toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, stronger communities, the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose, and to protect and regenerate the environment. We have thus rewritten our way of doing business, looking at business as a positive force capable of generating profit and at the same time creating a virtuous impact on people and the environment. By demonstrating a fundamentally different governance philosophy than a traditional shareholder-centred corporation we are “redefining success in our industry”. I believe that it is increasingly the responsibility of companies to educate consumers and influence their behaviour toward a more sustainable world. What I find so compelling about Davines is that it has the power to impact so many people, just like it did me. What sets Davines apart from other hair care products? Key and distinctive traits of the Davines Group approach are the meticulous attention to quality and details in the development of all products and projects; the search for beauty and excellence, with a typical ‘made in Italy’ taste and culture; and most of all the company’s inspiring core values, which put people, planet, and the community at the heart of every choice. What is at the heart of Davines’ brand DNA? At the heart of Davines is sustainable beauty which is the driving force for each of our projects - from formulation to design, to ethics and customers. Our ideal of beauty finds its inspiration in the concept of equilibrium between substance and shape. Our style is inspired by simplicity, harmony and good taste. By creating “beauty” we want to encourage people to take care of themselves, of the environment in which they live and work, and of the things they love. Meanwhile, sustainability deals with the responsibility we owe to ourselves, the people with which we work, our customers, and the world in which we live and operate. You’ve seen global expansion over the years, particularly here in the Middle East. What haircare habits do you see here in the region that differs from other parts of the world? In the Middle East, women love to be impeccably groomed and incredibly stylish and it is apparent that hair is an integral part of the region’s beauty DNA. With Arab complexions, hair tends to be very thick and voluminous so consumers like to ensure they are using products that will keep the integrity and health of their hair at

its optimum level and give it a fabulous shine. Another issue for all those who live in the Middle East, whatever their ethnicity, is its desert climate and the high levels of humidity, both of which can adversely affect the hair. This means that consumers look for products that are moisturising but at the same time keep frizz at bay so we find our Love Smooth range is very popular. The climate and frequency of activities such as time spent in chlorinated pools mean that blondes (whether natural or dyed) tend to look for products specific to them and so our Heart of Glass, which was launched earlier in the year, has become a must-have. Unlike other global regions, regular salon blowdries are hugely popular in the Middle East and so styling products that include heat protection are in great demand. Given that beach and pool days are commonplace, it’s little surprise that the tousled beach wave is a go-to style in the region and so our More Inside Salt spray is a best-seller here. Looking back over your journey building the Davines brand, what are some challenges you’ve had to overcome? We have always been pioneers in sustainability, even when it wasn’t a top-of-mind concern for others. In the beginning, the hurdle was to let people, our consumers, and other companies in the beauty industry understand why our commitment to the environment was so important to us. Today sustainability is a topic that everybody is raising, and this helped us gain credibility far from the growing trend of greenwashing. Our desire to be “the best for the world” and not the “best in the world” continued to evolve during the years alongside the desire to lead others on the same path, with an advocacy activity that involves the stakeholders and partners with whom we come into contact. In our projects and choices, we are guided by an idea of “human ecology” aimed at rediscovering the fundamental balance between living beings and nature in a harmony that is beneficial for both. In the interdependence that binds all this, there is no social sustainability without environmental sustainability. On the opposite end of the spectrum, what have been the key milestones? Significant milestones for us are the following: ∙ In 1994 as the company grows, Davines begins to export out of Italy. Davines Group is now present in more than 93 countries. ∙ In 2006 Davines Group starts the path to decarbonization. The Parma office begins to use electricity from renewable sources, and we invest in our first carbon sequestration project for our packaging. ∙ In 2009 The Charter for Sustainable Research is written, driving the work in our lab to maximize both sustainability and performance, and in 2011 we did the same for The Packaging Research Charter to guide our R&D in designing more sustainable packaging. ∙ In 2016 Davines Group becomes a certified B Corporation guaranteeing that the company meets the highest standards of transparency, governance, and sustainability. ∙ And in 2018 the Davines Village opens as Davines Group’s new home in Parma, Italy. We also become a carbon-neutral company neutralizing all the CO2eq emissions under our direct control. What’s next for Davines? The next phase of the company is vital to its global development. Always striving to meet the highest standards of social and environmental impact through people, planet and community, we will continue to focus on balancing evolution and growth while prioritizing the group’s core values of ethics, beauty and sustainability. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – how would you define a renegade? I see “renegade” linked to rewriting “the rules”. In Davines every product or project is born by intuition, leading us to creativity and innovation, always following our values consistently. This can be also applied in the way we are walking our path towards sustainability for a more regenerative business model, thus redefining the rules of doing business in our industry.


“In Davines every product or project is born by intuition, leading us to creativity and innovation.”


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Leap of Faith

Head of Operations & Marketing for Elborno Medical and Cosmetic Clinic, Sina Hamade discusses making bold decisions and going against the grain

ing a business and building an empire. He taught me the value of building authority in my chosen niche. What excites you about the beauty industry in the UAE and the GCC region? I’m extremely excited that the UAE is a hub not only for invasive but also non-invasive cosmetic treatments. Each service is offered by some of the most talented doctors from all around the world in this field. The latest and most

innovative technology and machinery is used for each service, especially as the beauty industry has shown enormous growth over the past few years in the GCC region. What’s your key to success? It’s all a matter of perception and how we look at our lives. It’s important to understand what we want to make of our lives in the long run. For a winning mindset, it’s essential to think positively with a clear vision. Having the ability to dream without boundaries and the willingness to work hard till our goals are reached are also contributing qualities to have. How effective has social media been in maintaining a network for you? Social media has had a series of benefits in my career and has greatly added value to it. The best PR is through word of mouth. When people are satisfied and happy with a service that you’ve provided them with, many people recommend a certain treatment on their social media platform which is the best exposure in the digital world. Social media has helped accelerate my network globally, with many asking for advice on how to set up their clinics. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – how would you define a renegade? I would describe a renegade as someone who is breaking barriers, following their passions and going against the grain.

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What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? I wake up around 6:30am and start my day with a cup of coffee. As I’m sipping on my coffee, my brain is taking notes of all the tasks to complete for the day. I then shower, dress and leave for work. The first thing I do when I reach work is write down the tasks for the day ahead. What is your key to networking and meeting potential clients? Networking in our field is highly essential. It’s about forming trust and helping one another work towards their goals. It’s important to exchange information on challenges, experiences and goals as this is the key benefit of networking because it allows you to gain new insights into something that you may not have thought of otherwise. Who have been your mentors throughout your career? My mentor is a general surgeon whom I worked with in the USA before I moved to the UAE. He took me under his wing and taught me everything I needed to learn about cosmetic work. I was extremely inspired by the outcome and the happiness his patients had, which eventually pushed me to proceed further in this field. I learned how to deal with different types of patients under his mentorship. Additionally, he was focused on scal-


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Teoxane products will offer Middle Eastern patients both dynamism that mimics the natural movement of the facial muscles and the strength that is required for volume improvement.

The Pioneer in Aesthetic Medicine


eoxane is one of the leaders in aesthetic medicine and skincare. Founded by CEO Madame Valerie Taupin in 2003, Teoxane specializes in injectable hyaluronic acid-based dermal fillers designed to treat wrinkles. Nazila Zoulfaghari, Vice President of Teoxane MENA, reveals how the aesthetics brand is bringing cutting-edge innovative dermal fillers and skincare products to the top clinics in this region

What is the story behind Teoxane? Teoxane is an independent company, owned and led by the CEO Madame Valerie Taupin, a visionary and impactful leader in the industry, and leading the educational arm as our chief medical and scientific officer is the prominent and renowned Dr Patrick Trevidic, a plastic reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon. Teoxane has been in the aesthetics industry for over 20 years, the founder learnt many lessons and wanted to build a company with a difference. How have you seen aesthetics evolve? Dermal filler injectables are one of the leading non-surgical aesthetic procedures globally. Injectable dermal fillers are used for various procedures including to plump thin lips, enhance shallow contours, soften facial creases, remove wrinkles and improve the appearance of scars. As such the material, viscosity and cohesivity of the Dermal filler has evolved to adapt to the aesthetic needs of consumers.

What is the ethos of Teoxane? Teoxane is a Swiss manufacturer based in Geneva, with a global presence in the aesthetics industry, pioneering in research and development delivering innovative and cutting-edge technologies with high quality and safety standards in their products. Of course, this reinforces patient and customer satisfaction and product reliability. For example; while there are people who are convinced about filler applications, there are also people who prefer to preserve their natural appearance with the belief that their facial expressions could be affected. This is where Teoxane’s new generation patent technology of Resilient Hylauronic Acid Dynamic Fillers come into play, providing natural-looking results with its properties that adapt to the movement and dynamism of the face, such as facial expressions inspiring anyone who hesitates to feel the confidence to proceed. In addition, to further complement our HA dermal filler offering, we have our very own cosmeceutical range. In this range, we have integrated our patented RHA technology to create a complete skincare regimen that addresses the vulnerability of a patient’s skin following a procedure and optimises outcomes. How does the Middle Eastern region differ in terms of aesthetic preferences? Now actively present in Turkey, the Middle East and Africa, with a local office operating from Dubai, we can expect to see bespoke Teoxane fillers popping up in even more popular UAE-based beauty spots.

Can you talk us through what Teoxane specializes in? Teoxane has a patent technology called Resilient Hyaluronic Acid (RHA). The RHA® Series is designed to adapt to the movement of the facial muscles and as a resilient HA, protecting the product from degradation, providing undetectable natural results in line with the dynamic movement and static rest of the face. What makes Teoxane products different is that the TEOSYAL RHA® portfolio of dermal fillers provides a selection of 4 hyaluronic acid gels that covers a range of aesthetic needs from superficial wrinkles, through to volume in extended areas for lasting correction of facial wrinkles and folds. The award-winning filler works in synchronisation with facial expressions to provide a naturallooking result, whilst remaining undetectable. Teoxane Cosmeceuticals further complement our HA dermal filler offering, in this range, we have integrated our patented RHA technology to create a complete skincare regimen that addresses the vulnerability of a patient’s skin following a procedure and optimises outcomes. Having worked hard to preserve the purity and length of the HA chains in our gels. TEOSYAL® RHA® * is the first dermal filler specifically designed with strength and stretch capabilities developed with the objective of mimicking the natural HA in our skin which ultimately allows it to provide the most natural-looking results. We’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of noninvasive treatments in recent years like dermal fillers. What do you think contributes to this rise in popularity? Injectables are growing in popularity due to the temporary HA fillers specifically soaring over the last decade. I believe this is predominantly down to the fast pace and dynamic lifestyles in the modern age. The use of hyaluronic acid in the Middle East is exponentially growing in line with the global trend, social media and beauty ideals of consumers. How do you hope to make your clients feel after undergoing Teoxane treatments? With our technology and innovation, we hope to provide natural results providing a fresh, vibrant, rested and confident feeling for all our clients after Teoxane treatments. We strive for the best-inclass quality and safer client outcomes. What does the future hold for Teoxane? Simply put: your beauty is our future. Not only is this our mantra but it’s also part of our ethos where innovation and excellence are integral in creating a global footprint within the aesthetics industry. For more information visit teoxane.com/en


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Approaching beauty like a private members club C’Vine Lawrence, Founder of CNB Dubai, creates a truly exclusive beauty experience like no other Can you talk us through your career thus far? I started my career as a Trainee Bank Associate and within a few years, I progressed to Assistant Bank Manager and then Manager. After five years as a Manager, I transitioned into financial planning, then later studied and acquired my Broker and Securities License to become a Financial Advisor, over the next 32 years I worked as a Financial Advisor, and now

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a Wealth Manager when I am not at CNB. How did you find yourself stepping into the beauty industry? Selfcare and “me time” is important to me as a fast-paced professional. In the past, I even booked my family vacations with my rituals in mind. If the hotel does not have a spa, I won’t stay there. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I was speaking with my girlfriend about the type of service we wish we could have, and the

need currently in Dubai for the right service. I then spent the next few days researching full-service spas and the lack thereof. With my passion for beauty rituals, combined with my personal experiences with salons and spas across the globe, I have had solid exposure to luxury beauty care. I want to experience head-to-toe massages, innovative facials, manicure/pedicure and I want it to be easy, indulgent and carefree.


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The wish to find this one-stop beauty haven and the right type of services here in Dubai has driven me to start CNB House of Beauty. What eventually brought you to Dubai? Three things. Environment – Although the population continues to grow, fortunately, crime rates in Dubai remain at an all-time low, UAE police take great pride in keeping their city free from crime. Climate – I love the sun and Dubai is sunny most of the year so there is the potential to enjoy Dubai’s beautiful beaches with my family. Opportunity – This is an extremely attractive country where expats like me can come from countries where taxation can eat up a significant portion of the income earned. Can you talk us through the concept behind CNB? The UAE is among the most culturally diverse countries in the world. In many respects, this diversity is a strength, but when it comes to the Spa and Salon industry, diversity is a challenge. Finding a salon that offers superior personalized services, including hair, nails, body, and skincare are in short supply. Daily, friends, associates, and businesswomen asked if I knew of any excellent full-service salon that understood the different hair and skin types, I could not name one. For this reason, CNB was born. The design and interior were based on a story of a woman sitting down at her vanity mirror counter in her bedroom, she draws the sheers to soften the sunlight in the room, turns on her mirror light and starts putting makeup on. In between, she pauses longer than anticipated to admire the play of light and sheers, but then she continues. This is the most comfortable, vulnerable, and creative part of every woman, who with the act of self-care and makeup is sitting down to create her inner diva. The psychological and mental space of this experience serves as the basis of CNB’s design and guides the ultimate customer experience. How do you believe CNB can empower women to feel their best? CNB provides a luxurious haven, a place where women can enjoy a serene solo experience or vibrant social interaction. For the modern-day woman, CNB brings calm and indulgence to a highoctane lifestyle. I wanted to create a place where women could come and focus on their inner beauty as much as their outer beauty. CNB offers the ultimate experience and empowerment, so women leave fully revitalized and recharged to face their everyday life. In your opinion, how does the beauty industry differ in the UAE & GCC from other parts of the world? The UAE & GCC has a huge market; one that is growing very quickly. The beauty industry differs for several reasons; the young but growing population has the highest spending on beauty per capita in the world and is still growing. Most importantly, the competition in the

Middle East is not as high when compared to the rest of the world; it’s just dominated by a small number of big brands. What is a philosophy you live by in both your professional and personal life? The most precious resource we have on this planet is time – so dream big and work hard. Starting any company requires enormous effort– blood, sweat and tears – so I spend the rest of my time wisely doing what I love. Throughout your career, who have been your mentors? I have had many mentors throughout my career but one of my favourites is Maya Angelou, one of her most famous quotes “be a rainbow in somebody’s cloud” is such great advice. So, my goal is to be a rainbow in somebody’s life. I am very fortunate to have had many female mentors. One of them really taught me about people management, how to manage a team, as well as empathy for others. I guess you can say that I can be somewhat aggressive at work, and I tend to switch it on to achieve a

“For the modern-day woman, CNB brings calm and indulgence to a high-octane lifestyle.”


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maximum business outcome. This particular mentor taught me how to slow down and still make an impact. To date, what have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome? My biggest challenge has definitely been opening CNB’s doors in the midst of a pandemic! I have experienced some intense emotions this past year, fear, stress and anxiety crept in. But what helped me is accepting the fact that I couldn’t do it alone. I needed the right people around me. I learned not to overextend myself. That’s why it’s imperative that I find time to recharge. On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are the key milestones? We have two main milestones: maintaining a strong membership base and becoming an authority in the beauty industry. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – how would you define this? I would define this as a welcome, unconventional manner – embracing a new way.

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The Beauty Shelf Esme Chapman, (daughter of MATCHESFASHION Founders Ruth & Tom Chapman) talks us through her clean hero beauty products C O M P I L E D BY: S A R A H J O S E P H

Best Skin Ever Seabuckthorn 30ml for Dhs95 Living Libations

It’s really important to me to make sure everything I put on my skin is free from harsh ingredients or chemicals. This cleanser is super gentle and formulated with the cleanest jojoba oils, lavender and grapefruit, so it smells heavenly and leaves my skin feeling soft. Rose Quartz Gua Sha Dhs66 Herbivore Botanicals

I recently purchased a Gua Sha tool which is a traditional Chinese technique purported to increase circulation and promote lymphatic drainage. So, it’s great for depuffing. The tools are made from different stones and crystals, and mine is made from rose quartz, a heart chakra healing crystal infused with extra love. Straight Up Mascara Dhs95 RMS Beauty

around it. I’ll usually apply a little to the tips of my eyelashes before bed because it helps promote really healthy, long eyelashes.

Maiden Fern Blushing Balm Dhs110 Living Libations

Rose Glow Complexion Mist Dhs80 Living Libations

If I’m looking for a blush to wake up my face a bit, I like to use one that works for my lips too, because I can tend to be a bit lazy with makeup and I don’t want to spend time trying to find shades that match. I’d rather have a tint that’s multipurpose and easy and quick to re-apply. I love this rosy colour, and it’s a bonus that it smells of cinnamon.

I’m a big believer that good skin comes from within. So, I like to

Organic Castor Oil Dhs39 The Nature Lab

Castor oil is the only thing I treat my lashes with. The eye area is so sensitive, so for me I only like putting something nourishing

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use skincare and makeup minimally and believe skin care is complimentary to other elements of my wellbeing and self-care. This mist is a nice, easy way to boost my skin with hydration and I can carry it around to spray on the go. Turmeric Brightening and Exfoliating Mask 100ml for Dhs228 Kora Organics

I love the ingredients in this mask. It includes turmeric, papaya enzymes and peppermint. Whenever I’m in the need for some TLC, this mask reveals softer skin and doubles up as a scrub too. Jojoba Eye Pencil Dhs90 Ere Perez

I have hooded eyes, so I usually don’t attempt wearing eyeliner. When I do, I use this pencil in

a brown shade for my waterline as it’s delicate and compliments my features. Wild with Desire Lipstick Dhs103 RMS Beauty

On the rare occasions when I wear lipstick, this is my most trusted staple. When I first used it, I was in love with it. This brand is ethical and natural with rich pigments to avoid reapplying. My favourite shades include Brain Teaser and Rapture. Body Glow Duo Dhs220 OSEA

I’ve been dry brushing for a while as it’s another gentle way to stimulate my lymphatic system. It helps with my overall health and skin appearance. Using both the dry brush and body oil in combination after a shower, makes my skin feel so velvety and it smells amazing.


I don’t often wear makeup but if I do, it’s usually from RMS. I’m obsessed with everything from this brand. My lashes are naturally long but very straight, and this mascara is the holy grail for leaving my lashes curled and fuller all day.


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Content creator Sai Ferrera talks us through her beauty routine Talk us through your morning routine. I wash my face with water without any soap because I still have my moisturizer on from the night before and natural oil produced by my skin which is healthy. I use a silk pillowcase cover to protect the skin while I sleep. If Iʼm working from home, I use Foto Ultra 100 ISDIN SPF 50 sunscreen or Sunsense SPF 50 because that means I wonʼt be wearing makeup. However, if Iʼm working in the office or heading out for meetings, I use Charlotte Tilburyʼs Invisible UV Flawless Pore-

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less Primer with SPF 50. Makeup primer is crucial; contrary to popular belief that itʼs just added expense, primer allows your makeup to stay on better and therefore last longer so you wonʼt have to keep retouching. When going to the beach or the pool, I struggle with skin pigmentation and still want to look my best, so I use Heliocareʼs compact oil-free SPF50 foundation. And does your evening beauty routine differ? In the evening, I use Bioderma makeup remover; then I use a toner (Iʼll be honest, I

donʼt stick to one brand), and then I use Charlotte Tilburyʼs Magic cream or occasionally add serums, unlike in my 20s, my skin is less sensitive. I donʼt get spots quickly anymore, so I play around with serums and beauty products such as Dior, Ole Henriksen, Nuxe, Chanel, The Ordinary, LʼOccitane and so on. Whatʼs consistent, however, is Retinol which breaks down into retinoic acid upon contact with the skin, which helps increase the cell turnover and boosts collagen production, and I use the one by La Roche-Posay.


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Clockwise from top left: Compact Oil Free SPF50 Foundation Dhs99 Heliocare; Retinol Face Serum with Vitamin B3 30ml Dhs193 La Roche-Posay available at BinSina; Charlotteʼs Magic Cream Moisturizer 30ml Dhs280 Charlotte Tilbury available namshi.ae; Nomade Fragrance 50ml Dhs436 Chloe available at sephora.ae; Invisible UV Flawless Poreless Primer Dhs273 Charlotte Tilbury available at namshi.ae; Pure Musc Eau de Parfum 100ml Dhs581 Narciso Rodriguez available at bloomingdales.ae

What are your go-to skincare products? Foto Ultra 100 ISDIN SPF 50 sunscreen, Sunsense SPF 50, Charlotte Tilburyʼs Magic Cream, and La Roche-Posay Retinol. Are you a fan of masks? I love them. I may have to explore more to know which ones truly work. How would you describe your approach to makeup? I started having acne at 13 until I was in my late 20ʼs caused by hormones. Makeup somehow helped me get through my teenage years with less ʻshameʼ as it enabled me to conceal my insecurities. To this day,

Iʼm grateful makeup exists. What can always be found in your makeup bag? Sunscreen, Mineral powder/foundation, lipstick, and eyeliner. What fragrance is your go-to at the moment? I love Chloe Nomade and Pure Musc by Narciso Rodriguez; I use them alternately depending on my mood. Talk us through your hair routine. I colour my hair, and I do a full head of highlights every six months, which dries out the hair. I use Aveda shampoo and conditioner daily; I used


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Loreal Magnesium Silver shampoo to tone the highlights three times a week to avoid the colour turning orange but an ashier or cooler tone instead. In addition, I use Aveda hair masque once a week. And I do root colour every one and half months. My hair grows and turns into an ombre as it grows, so I donʼt have to do a full hair colour all the time. It saves me money and keeps my locks healthy. What is the most unusual item in your makeup bag? I think itʼs Heliocareʼs compact oilfree SPF50 foundation.

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9/30/21 1:16 PM


In the Driver’s Seat

Amna Al Qubaisi knows all about living her life in the fast lane. As the first Emirati female racing driver, Amna is here to inspire women to follow their dreams

And finally, our legs for the strong braking we have to input through our legs. What does it feel like to have accomplished so much at such a young age? It feels amazing but I know I can accomplish more. I have made many mistakes that prevented me from reaching my potential but it’s all part of the journey. Women are definitely underrepresented in motorsports. How do you hope to change that? I feel that due to the fact we don’t get the same

advantages as our male competitors it’s pretty difficult to compete with that. So, I think we just need to spread awareness. You’re a leader for women in this region. What do you hope others can take from your example? I hope other women could embrace the fact that you should keep on persisting despite what other people say about you. I’ve come a long way and I can’t quit now when I put years of hard work in. What do you hope for the future of women in the UAE? I hope I get to see more women in maledominated fields in general not just in sports and breaking that stereotype. We can and we will. What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome, to date? I’ve always had to deal with judgement and people criticizing me to this day. It’s still something new to others and I hope in time it will fade away. On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are the key milestones? For sure winning races and the biggest one was F4 in 2019. That was like putting a full stop to those that doubted me. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – how would you define this? I wouldn’t say it's rebelling but more standing up for ourselves and be heard. We’ve come a long way and it’s time to become what we have always wanted to be.

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Can you talk us through your career so far? I’m a Formula 3 driver working her way up to reach Formula 1. While I’m still only at the start of my career, I’ve claimed many achievements such as being the first female and Arab to win an FIA F4 race in 2019, the first female Arab to win the RMC in 2017, the GCC Drivers Programme, and The Dubai O Plate in 2019. Where did your passion for racecar driving come from? It comes from my father, Khaled Al Qubaisi, he was a racing driver himself and he started in 2009. I took inspiration when he would come home and invite drivers over for dinner and they would talk about racing and their favourite tracks so I wanted to take part and I started karting when I was 14. How has your father inspired you and what advice has he given you for entering the sport? He always taught me how to be calm and focused in this sport. At first, it was very hard for me to focus due to the fact I get distracted a lot. There are also a lot of physical aspects that go into racecar driving. Can you talk us through this? We have to work on our necks due to the strong G-force when turning in corners and work on our arms and abdomen as the car does not have any powersteering.


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The Precision Piece

Co-Founder & CEO of Akoni, Rosario Toscano discusses creating iconic pieces through an incredible attention to detail 102 emirateswoman.com

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What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? My mind remains active even when I’m sleeping, so when I wake up, the first thing I do is exercise in order to integrate my mind and body. Starting a new day with clarity and positivity is an important part of my daily practice. I’m a firm supporter of breakfast being the most important meal of the day, so my post-exercise routine includes a protein shake with bananas and blueberries – which are high in potassium, vitamins B and C, and antioxidants. Of course, I’m Sicilian, so no morning ritual is complete without an espresso from my traditional Bialetti Moka pot. What was the catalyst for starting your own brand and how did you align with your Co-Founder, Salma Rachid? Akoni Group is a progressive Swiss luxury enterprise whose prime goal is to create beautiful, timeless, high-quality products using materials and methodologies that respect humankind and our natural environment. The company was founded in 2019 by me and our Creative Director, Salma Rachid, to advance our shared values, interests, and passions – from social and environmental responsibility to preserving traditional craftsmanship and the heritage of eyewear as a distinct art form. In addition to being friends for more than fifteen years and sharing a similar world view, Salma and I complement one another in ways that make us a perfect team. I’m a businesscreative who has spent most of my professional life in the eyewear industry, whereas Salma’s creative-business mind stems from a family that has been forerunners in the fashion and personal care industries for generations. Salma adds rich layers of value across the board and there quite simply couldn’t be an Akoni Group without her. Akoni designs, manufactures and distributes luxury eyewear worldwide with a commitment to craftsmanship, expertise and quality. Are these values that were clear from the outset as the vision of the brand? Salma and I chose the name Akoni – meaning inestimable, priceless, worthy of admiration – because it represents the standard we set for our product, our brand, and ourselves. From the very start, we were clear that incomparable quality, an abiding respect for people and the environment would constitute our company’s overriding values. Which is to say, we’re every bit as concerned about the why and how of what we do, as we are about the what we do. Key factors differentiating luxury products such as ours from other offerings include superior materials, engineering, craftsmanship, level of fit and finish, and unmatched quality control. We manufacture exclusively in Japan, which is the eyewear equivalent of manufacturing wristwatches in Switzerland – recognized globally as best-in-class. The resulting differences in quality are tangible and profound. To borrow a phrase from Latin, “Res ipsa loquitur” – the thing speaks for itself. What was the first piece you created and how challenging was it to build a precision team? I’ve worked in the business, as opposed to the design end of the luxury eyewear sector for many years.


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“From the very start, we were clear that incomparable quality, an That said, I’m passionate about design and very much enjoy the creative process and the camaraderie in collaborating with our design team. The first Akoni Group design that I was actively involved with – and my favourite to this day, partly for sentimental reasons – is Wonder Boy, which is part of our Balmain Eyewear collection. Named in honour of Balmain’s brilliant Creative Director, Olivier Rousteing – Wonder Boy is his nickname and also the title of the film documenting his fascinating life – Olivier played an integral role in creating this innovative eyepiece that he originally imagined as a mask for shielding celebrities from the public’s gaze, and it’s one of the most beautiful and technically sophisticated sunglasses I’ve ever seen. Attention to detail is at the core of Akoni, can you expand on the level of craftsmanship and the values of the brand? Akoni Group views the act of creation as a multi-faceted, organic process. Philosophically, our design code is rooted in traditional Japanese aesthetic principles emphasising simplicity, proportion and scale. When it comes to production, we utilise the techniques and technologies best suited to achieve the optimal result. Sometimes, traditional ways are best – other times, modern technology yields the

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better result. But more often than not, harmonising traditional with modern produces a finished product exhibiting the highest degree of beauty, purpose and soul. Crafting eyewear the way we do is challenging, costly, and time consuming, but we’re passionate about our products and can’t imagine doing it any other way. Fortunately for us, our customers find genuine value in what we do and equally understand why we do it. Tell us about the latest FW21 collection and which key pieces are unique? Hot on the heels of our wildly successful Akoni X Balmain launch, we’re excited to introduce our FW21 collections. I’m particularly excited about the introduction of Akoni’s Pathfinder sunglass – a curved navigator shape featuring mini side-shields and an adjustable temple system that ensures a perfect fit and unequivocally demonstrates Akoni Group’s ongoing commitment to technical innovation. On the Balmain Eyewear front, Fixie is a radically beautiful rimless sunglass reminiscent of the film Blade Runner that’s a tribute to Olivier Rousteing in honour of his tenth anniversary as Balmain’s Creative Director, and will be featured in Balmain’s runway show in Paris. In the luxury market – what is key to success? The simple answer is quality and exclusivity.

Akoni Group’s products are for people who understand and appreciate a concept that we refer to as honest luxury – which is to say is a genuine correlation between quality and price. I’m not saying that all expensive products are necessarily of good quality – in fact, in the fashion eyewear category there’s little or no relationship between quality and price. Akoni Group products are different – our designs, materials, craftsmanship, and customer service are first class. Our eyewear is designed to provide years of use and enjoyment while making you look and feel great. We’re socially and environmentally conscious, not because it’s good for marketing, but because it’s good for our planet. We’re incredibly proud of what our team has accomplished, and firmly believe that once a customer experiences our products they’ll be a customer for life. How do you approach scaling the brand whilst retaining quality? It’s a question of values. One must ask themself: Do I want to be the biggest or the best? Our distribution model is highly selective and mirrors the standard of excellence to which we hold ourselves in every aspect of our business. Which is to say, we’re interested in the quality of doors not the total number. Our goal is to work only with customers who share our social respon-


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abiding respect for people and the environment would constitute our company’s overriding values”



signs, materials, finishes, or functionality, we’ll continue pushing the envelope in order to bring our customers the very best. Do you see any differing buying patterns globally and if so, which? COVID-19 presented the world with enormous challenges, both personal and professional, and our hearts go out to everyone who suffered a loss due to this terrible pandemic. That said, I’m an eternal optimist and believe that the flipside of challenge is opportunity. With so many of us working and socializing via video chat these days, our eyewear is the first thing others sibility values as well as our passion for unnotice about us. Now that eyewear is the matched design, craftsmanship and ‘Made primary fashion accessory communicating in Japan’ quality. Fortunately, we’re not our personality and sense of style, consumalone in this vision – Akoni Group products ers have a renewed interest in unique, highare available in premium doors throughout quality products that will set them apart more than fifty countries worldwide. while making them look and feel their best. Likewise, consumers across all age groups Could you expand on where Akoni’s motto – have become increasingly comfortable with ‘Welcome to the Evolution’ came from? Eyeonline shopping for everything from growear has existed for almost a thousand years ceries to, well, eyewear. With respect to our and despite frequent claims by one or another wholesale business, that lumbering dinocompany that their products are revolutionsaur known as the “tradeshow” is in decline, ary, in the end they all have the same basic being replaced by remote showrooms, 3D form and components. Sure, some add camrenderings and digital presentations, and eras, speakers and other headline-grabbing video meetings. In addition to being more elements, but to date these products are little efficient and cost effective, the net reduction more than novelties. Akoni’s goal isn’t to rein mass face-to-face gatherings, air travel, invent eyewear – but rather, to help eyewear and general consumption is better for our evolve in ways that people find desirable and collective health and the environment. satisfying in their daily lives. Whether it’s de-


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This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – who to you in the industry is a renegade or when have you approached life in this way? My choice for an industry renegade is Balmain’s Creative Director, Olivier Rousteing. Olivier is a true visionary whose creativity, business acumen, and sheer courage transcend fashion. Fashion brands have long used eyewear as a gateway category for introducing consumers to their brands at an accessible price point. But eyewear – unlike other key product categories like handbags – is typically licensed to third parties, so the net result is poorly designed, low quality, environmentally unsound products whose entire value proposition is a recognizable logo emblazoned on the side. This production dynamic is extremely harmful to long-term brand integrity because consumers are misled into believing that the quality of their favourite brand’s eyewear will match its house-made product and when it doesn’t, disappointed consumers go looking for a new favourite brand. Olivier was savvy enough to recognize that the house’s eyewear wasn’t comparable in quality to offerings in its other product categories and that it was time for a change. We couldn’t be prouder of the Balmain Eyewear collection and believe that it’s the highest-quality fashion eyewear brand ever brought to market.

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Brave & Beautiful

What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine? I usually get up around seven in the morning. I struggle with insomnia so it’s super important for me that I have a fairly regular sleep-wake routine. If I’m in the same city as my dogs the first thing I always do is go and wake them up and cuddle them. Then I drink my lemon water to rehydrate. I have a rebounder which is like a tiny trampoline. Most days I’ll put on some music and go gently jump on that for 10 minutes to stimulate my lymphatic system and have some really gentle movement in the morning. I can’t handle other forms of exercise but rebounding really doesn’t require much, it’s very low impact and easy. No matter how much sleep I’ve got the night before my morning always tends to look this way because even when I’m struggling these are the practices that re-centre me. Can you tell us in your own words what changed for you in 2018? I had just moved to New York to start studying Psychology at NYU. I was only beginning to settle in when about three weeks into being there I suddenly had acute pain in my abdomen. I was living in the East Village and I took myself to the nearest emergency room. It’s a strange moment to recount because I was so unaware at this point how drastically my life course was going to be altered. After many hours of morphine and the most astonishing amount of pain, I was diagnosed with volvulus of my colon that needed immediate emergency surgery. I should have been back at school fairly quickly, but it soon became clear that I wasn’t recovering as expected. I spent that week hallucinating, tachycardic, and hardly lucid and received an incredibly low quality of care during this time. I had contracted septi-

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Esme Rose Chapman is a tough cookie. Illustrator, model and daughter of MATCHESFASHION Founders Ruth & Tom Chapman, she’s a true testament to beauty and the steely determination and drive that can exist beneath


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caemia during the operation, which requires urgent treatment, or it quickly becomes lifethreatening. Yet it was left undetected and untreated for days by the hospital despite my parents voicing concerns and asking repeatedly if I was septic. Eventually, the doctors realized I was very sick, and after a week with these symptoms I was taken in for another emergency surgery and placed into ICU. The doctors didn’t listen to me when I woke up and told them I could feel water in my lungs. My parents tried to transfer me to another hospital but were told several times I would not make the journey. It was clear at that time that though moving me presented a risk, staying in that hospital under the care I was receiving posed a greater risk to my life. Thankfully, due to help and support from wonderful friends and their doctors, I was blue lighted by ambulance to a good hospital on Madison Avenue where doctors attempted to save my life. Six surgeries later, and having spent six weeks in intensive care, I was transferred onto a regular ward. I truly believe that the amount of love and support I was surrounded by, had a profound effect on helping to heal me, and I’m forever grateful to the people who showed up for me. I’m also so grateful to the incredible doctors, surgeons and nurses who saved my life and put me back together again. How did going through this affect you personally in terms of priorities and the direction you wanted to go in life? The past three years have been very challenging in terms of my health. I’ve suffered from severe post-sepsis syndrome and that’s caused some unpleasant neurological symptoms that have meant I haven’t been able to return to university. As a really curious person who loves learning, initially, this was difficult for me to accept. However, through this experience, I’ve been redirected onto a different path and I’ve ended up learning more about myself and the world, than I would had I attended university. I’ve done so much self-reflection and internal work that I would have otherwise never have got to until much later in life. As unrelenting and dark as illness can be, I think in some ways it can be an opportunity for expansion because you’re forced to confront every part of yourself. I believe that ultimately this experience will come to inform what I end up doing in life, though I’m still figuring out how. From the initial prognosis to where you are now, what kind of determination did it take to get to where you are? Of all the things I’ve learnt about myself, it’s that I have a sheer determination and will to survive and bring myself back to health. I’ve realised I have incredible selfdiscipline and am so committed to applying that energy to what I do with the rest of my life.

mind, through my diet. Anyone who’s close to me knows I love to eat an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. I’m always juicing and making delicious smoothie bowls for my friends whenever they come over. Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help you navigate the right path? Diane Von Furstenburg has been a wonderful mentor for me. Some days its challenging not to see my mindset drift or get caught up in where my identity lies beyond struggling with my health. Diane always reminds me it’s important to never be a victim in your own life and not give my power to anything or anyone. She reminds me that no matter what I am facing my strength and capacity to overcome it is far more powerful. She hasn’t just impacted my approach to my health, but so many aspects of my life. I’m much more conscious now than I was few years ago, about who I give access to in my life, and how I allow people to treat me. Anthony William, The Medical Medium, has opened his arms to me through this process. He has also provided me with so much knowledge and generosity that has allowed In the most challenging moments – what kept me to move forward with powerful tools to you going? My dogs! I find animals to be exhelp navigate health challenges, and also tremely perceptive and sensitive. My dogs the faith and trust that my body is always always know when I’m having a difficult day working for me. He is so selflessly dedicated and give me extra love. Being around them to helping the chronically ill and to watch calms my nervous system and brings me so his mission unfold is a privilege. much joy. Prayer for me has also been very transformative. I find it to be a form of mediIn hindsight what reflections do you have of tation. Whether we are religious or not, I bethis challenging time? Coming from London, lieve that it can help us to suspend ourselves where we are so fortunate to have a social welfrom our immediate environment and worries fare system that gives us the NHS, it didn’t to feel a deeper sense of wholeness, connectcross my mind that in a country like America, edness and trust in the world. I’m also rethere would be drastic discrepancies in care ally lucky to have great friends who have been between hospitals depending on the kind of there and a solid family I can rely on. socio-economic neighbourhood they are in. The scales fell from my eyes about American What do you think is the key to healing and did health care. If my parents had not have known you take any out of the box approaches to this people who understood the system, I would yourself? When you’re struggling with chronic not be alive today. I’m of course profoundly illness and Western medicine hasn’t provided grateful for that but it sickens me that had I you any answers or solutions, you really dive been less privileged, I wouldn’t be here. deep into your own search for those answers. I take a holistic approach to my health. I beWhat is next for you? I feel more aligned with the creative side of myself now, so I plan to lieve there are many facets to healing, whether explore various forms of creative expression. I that’s physical, emotional, spiritual. To me, think particularly my generation are abandon‘alternative’ medicine is the original medicine. I always find that I feel lighter and have ing the idea that you need to commit to one a stronger sense of wellness whenever I’m able career path for life. I used to be very attached to be in the sunshine or reconnect with nature. to specific outcomes in my life, thinking I I’m really conscious of the quality of products needed this or that to feel a sense of fulfilment. I use in my environment, whether that’s cosI feel more open now, and excited to foray back into the world and see where it takes me. metic products or household products. I don’t like to put anything on my body (whether This is ‘The Renegade Issue’, and we see thinkthat’s makeup or perfume or lotions) if there’s ing outside the box as a positive thing. Who for a long list of ingredients and chemicals of you is a renegade or when have you taken this which I don’t recognise the names. I’d much approach to life yourself? Thank you for inrather buy an aloe vera plant and use that to cluding me in ‘The Renegade Issue’. These last moisturize. Knowing the origin of everything few years have made me realise I am definitely I use is important to me and my health. I love an out of the box thinker. I’m not interested in natural ways I can keep a clean, safe environanyone else’s opinions on how I live my life. I admire anyone who challenges the status quo. ment for myself, for example filling my living One of my favourite thinkers is Ayishat Akanroom with spider plants to purify the air. A piece that has been fundamental for me and bi, @ayishat_akanbi. I really enjoy her openmy health is diet. What we eat essentially bemindedness and her real desire for discussion around sensitive, complex topics. She is a comcomes us, and I’ve found tremendous healing passionate voice in an often-divisive world. for not only my physical body, but also my

“I admire anyone who challenges the status quo.” F E AT U R E

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her. “My main goal was to become an astronaut,” she said. “It wasn’t to be the first, or the second or the last.” Nora, along with her colleague Mohammed, simply wants to make it into space and walk on the moon. She received a public congratulations from Sheikh Mohammed


Upon the announcement of her recruitment as an astronaut for the UAE, Nora received public congratulations from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. “We announce the first Arab female astronaut, among two new astronauts, selected from over 4,000 candidates to be trained with NASA for future space exploration missions,” His Highness said. “Congratulations Nora Al Matrooshi and Mohammed Al Mulla.”

As the first Emirati female astronaut, Nora Al Matrooshi is breaking boundaries that are literally out of this world

She previously trained as an engineer

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UAE University in 2015, Sharjah-born Nora gained several years of experience in the field. Nora also previously represented the UAE at the United Nations Youth Conference in summer 2018 and winter 2019. She comes from a family of sailors, but she’s reaching for stars

During the recent press conference, Nora explained that she comes from a family of sailors on her mother’s side. “My mum’s side of the family are sailors,” she said. “I’d say they explored the ocean. The term ‘astronaut’ means ‘star sailor’ in Greek.”



Her inspiring words

During her first media appearance on July 7, Nora shared some particularly inspiring words with the Dubai Media Office. “My message to everyone is if I can do it, you can do it,” she said. “And if no one has done it before then you can just go ahead and be the first, because if you have the am-

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She’s one of only four astronauts representing the UAE

There are currently four astronauts representing the UAE including Nora. She joins the UAE Astronaut Programme with four astronauts in total now including Hazzaa Al Mansoori and Sultan Al Neyadi who were previously recruited.

bition and drive you will find opportunities everywhere at any time.” She is the first female Arab astronaut

Following her recruitment into the space programme, Nora has become the first female not only in the UAE but in the Arab world to become an astronaut. While the 28-year-old has become the first female Emirati and Arab astronaut, it was never her main goal to do so. While she was selected from over 4,000 candidates, she “didn’t really think about the fact there was no female astronaut [from the Arab world] before”

She’s been dreaming of becoming an astronaut since she was a child

“I first started dreaming of becoming an astronaut when my teacher in kindergarten asked us to build a tent and pretend it was a spacecraft that was taking us to the Moon,” she said during the recent press conference. “Since then I’ve become extremely passionate about becoming an astronaut.” “I’ve been working in the oil and gas field for several years, but my dream about becoming an astronaut never went away,” she continued. “This is a life-changing opportunity. The dream I’ve had since a child has come true. Now, I’ve started dreaming bigger.”


few months ago, the UAE announced it had recruited the very first female Emirati astronaut who was revealed to be Nora Al Matrooshi. Alongside Mohammad Al Mulla, the duo makes up the second batch of astronauts as part of the UAE’s space programme. Having dreamt of becoming an astronaut since she was a child, Nora is now reaching for the stars – both figuratively and literally. Nora, alongside her space cadet Mohammed, recently made her first public media appearance at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre where they both discussed their honour and pride at being recruited into the space programme. As Nora gears up to make history for women in the region, here’s some key things you need to know about this budding astronaut.


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Aspiring Olympic fencer and the first Emirati woman to finish the Ironman, Asma Al Janahi on breaking the mold in the sporting world The first Emirati woman to finish the Ironman 70.3 x5 times, complete x3 Ironman Middle East races in a single season and win first place among UAE Nationals at the Abu Dhabi World Triathlon 2019, Asma Al Janahi is on a winning streak. What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? My day usually starts early around 5am, before sunrise. I wake up and do the morning prayer “al fajr”. Then I’ll have a quick snack before I head to my daily training around 6am. What led you to the world of competing and what made you decide to enter Ironman? I have always been passionate about sports and tried many different types as a child. Initially, I started off as a cyclist, before I got into the world of triathlon. It was initially a

case of curiosity to try and complete a triathlon, which is quite different to cycling. However, when I tried it once, I got completely addicted to the sport. You’re the first Emirati woman to complete the Ironman 70.3 five times – how did that feel and how did you prepare your mindset for that race? Participating in any phase of Ironman is a long journey with many ups and downs. Personally, I’m very much a goal-oriented person; my journey was never easy and it took immense amounts of hard work both mentally and physically. The first important thing for me was to educate myself about this discipline and do things gradually, under the supervision of experts and coaches. How did it feel to be approached as ASICS brand ambassador in the region? I am hon-


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oured to represent ASICS in the community and am the first Emirati woman to do so in the region. As part of the ASICS FrontRunner community, I have met fantastic fellow athletes and passionate runners. Being an ASICS FrontRunner allows me to amplify my message to inspire people within the community to move and take up any sport. At ASICS, we believe passionately in the benefits of movement and adopt a ‘Sound Mind Sound Body’ approach. You don’t have to be a triathlete to benefit from movement. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome them? A few of my challenges included learning how to swim and learning how to run properly. I only learned how to swim after my first race. The fear of open water was very challenging to overcome and I conquered it by putting myself into the situation that scared me, and I failed many times before I made it. The triathlon is a very individual and specific sport, so mental toughness is very important. I had to learn how to be a friend to myself and not to depend on anyone with my training, while being fully committed to what I wanted to achieve in the long run. Who have been your mentors to date and what advice has been most important? I am very lucky to be surrounded by a community of absolutely great people. This has allowed me to learn from several of my fellow athletes and coaches. There are several mentors, to name a few, it would be coach Sara-Lise Harris and Jan Gremmen who is my triathlon coach, and of course all my fellow athletes from TriBelles UAE, which is the UAE’s first female specific triathlon community. What piece of advice would you give to your younger self? Don’t be hesitant – just try things until you discover yourself. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – who according to you is going against the grain in their field and achieving something great? There are people who are courageous enough to do things differently and who live according to their own rules. Those are the individuals who stand out and achieve great things. As an athlete, I think of Rafael Nadal. He has developed his very own way of playing when no one believed in it and with that he became one of the greatest players in tennis history. My personal role model in UAE is HH Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He showed the world that a small city like Dubai could stand out and be a global icon through ambition and hard work. A renegade to me is someone who’s doing things in a different way that is creative, innovative and enhancing. In my life, I’m surrounded by several people who constantly discover new ways to doing things differently and follow their passion. They inspire me to forge my own path on a daily basis.

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Fearless Combat

Amal Murad, the first Emirati female parkour athlete on challenging convention in a traditionally male-dominated sport What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? Nothing glamorous. I know there are many “success gurus” on social media who claim that the first 30 minutes of your day dictate the rest of the day, but I’m a mom now. My daughter wakes up pretty early, between 5:30 to 6:30 am, so my mornings can be chaotic. How did you discover your passion for practicing Parkour and how challenging was it to start? It was by accident. I wanted to get back to sports after becoming a full time graphic designer. When you’re a graphic designer, you spend 90 percent of your time behind a computer, so that destroyed the athletic side of me during adulthood. That’s why I decided to pursue something new and that was parkour at the time. My cousin owns gravity calisthenics gym, which is the first gym in the region to provide indoor parkour classes so that really sparked my interest. The rest is history. The challenging part of it all is that it’s a new sport and I was literally the oldest in class as well as the only woman. A lot of people tried to convince me to choose the conventional gymnastics but it didn’t excite me the way parkour did. You challenge the status quo in your industry, how do people respond to you within the community and have you had to push past any bar-

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riers? People will always not agree with what they are not familiar with. It was up to me to slowly educate people and introduce them to a sport that most of them might have never heard of. When I first started, there weren’t any Emirati female personal trainers who did this full time so that in itself was quite a journey. You start paving the way for those who come after, so that’s why it’s extremely important that you find innovative ways to share content and to spread your message to your audience. It was never about being a rebel or being the first to do something, it came from a passion. It really was about sharing knowledge and to show people why you’re so passionate about what you do. You’re an ambassador for Nike. How do you embody their ‘Just Do it’ approach to life? I think with parkour, you have no choice but to commit to your decisions. You can’t make a jump and change your mind midway. You have to stick by what you decided the whole way, or you’ll fall. The same goes with my life, I decided to be more confident in whatever I choose and not give up so easily when things don’t quite work out the way you expect them to. That’s what entrepreneurship teaches you, to take risks but to also be resilient. What does a typical training routine include? Parkour is the by product of my training not

the other way around. As you may know, parkour is a very fast and high impact sport that needs precision and control. That’s why it’s important to have my basics drilled down. Strength and resistance training will always be my go to routine including squats, lunges, deadlifts, push ups, pull ups, and the list goes on. The goal is to have a strong and mobile body that is able to withstand load no matter what age you reach. Once you practice these and build a strong foundation, that’s when you start introducing more dynamic movements and sports such as parkour. What’s your advice for Arab women who wish to enter the world of parkour? Don’t be intimidated. What you see online from most athletes is literally years of hard work. So, enjoy the process and build yourself from the ground up. It’s not about the big jumps but about how much stronger mentally you’ll become by understanding how to gradually overcome fear day by day. You’re a mother, coach and an athlete. How do you balance all three roles? You don’t – there’s always an element of compromise. You’ll have days where you have to deprioritize important projects and focus on family. Other days, you’ll end up missing important milestones in your daughter’s life because you have an important work event. Accepting that you’re doing the best you can is the greatest advice I can give. Do you think social media plays an important role in empowering women? If so, how? Yes. You’d be surprised how many people have shaped how I think online. It’s a great place to collaborate but also be a part of spaces that you don’t necessarily agree with. I think always being around the same people that always agree with you can somewhat stunt your growth. Knowing you’re part of a bigger world is exciting and there’s so much to learn from other cultures and perspectives. It’s beautiful because you start realizing you’re not alone in your struggles and that you can get so much support even from a complete stranger. Tell us about Leap of Hope and how it all began? Taking a leap of faith is an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proved or known. Ironically, that’s exactly what I did. I took a leap when I decided to quit my job to pursue personal training full-time. My name, however, is Amal which means hope so I changed leap of faith to leap of hope. It’s a pun on words because I also “leap” for a living, since I practice parkour. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – who according to you is going against the grain in their field and achieving something great? I think any women who decide to pursue a career that’s not conventional is going against the grain. We’re opening doors for the future generation so that they’ll have the opportunity to choose from a variety of career choices without the fear of judgement.




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New Lease of Life

What are common misconceptions about plastic surgery? The most common misconception about plastic surgery is that most think it can only be used to enhance physical appearance. Plastic surgery is a fascinating field that includes cosmetic surgery as well as reconstructive surgery such as trauma and breast cancer reconstruction. There can also be many functional advantages such as relief of back and neck pain after a breast reduction and improving breathing issues after a rhinoplasty and so on. Another misconception about plastic surgery is that it will make you look fake. You can still have plastic surgery, Botox and fillers with very natural results when done properly. How much has plastic surgery increased in the Middle East over the last decade? When I first set up my clinic in 2005, plastic surgery here in Dubai was still in its infancy. Over the last decade, it has increasingly gained popularity especially in the last two years and mainly due to women being more conscious. Can you talk us through your career? After completing high school in Dubai, I moved to Dublin when I was 17 years old to When you have clients coming in to see you, do they outline pursue my career in medicine. The decision to study medicine anyone, in particular, they want to look like? It is natural to came naturally to me since both my parents were doctors and use a known figure or celebrity as a reference point, most have been my role models. I then moved to the USA and comof my clients do that. In fact, I find it very helpful for patients to bring in images of what they like and don’t like pleted my residency in General and Plastic Surgery at Johns as it gives me a good indication of what they are trying to Hopkins Hospital. I worked in the USA for three years and achieve. It is rare, though, to have a patient that specifiobtained my Board Certifications before returning to the UAE cally wants to look like a celebrity. in 2002. After two years as a Consultant Plastic Surgeon in SKMC Abu Dhabi, I returned home to establish my clinic in However, there’s a side to plastic surgery many don’t see – 2005; that is when Al Shunnar Plastic Surgery was founded. how it can change people’s lives. Can you discuss with us What inspired you to enter the field of plastic surgery? I have how exactly it can do that? I truly feel blessed that I chose always loved art and aesthetics since childhood and I feel plastic surgery as my profession. It is very satisfying to plastic surgery is the perfect blend where art meets science. see how it can completely transform a person, and not You can literally work on any part of the body and see the just physically. I think it boils down to reframing perspectransformation immediately; I find this inspiring and fascitives… it not only changes how a person views the world nating. During my career, I realized that these transformaand themselves but also how the world views them. Under tions are not just physical but much more. the surface, I believe it is ultimately about the confidence of the inner self and how that is perceived on the outside. You’re the first Emirati female plastic surgeon in the UAE – what You opened your clinic in 2005. How have things evolved an incredible achievement. What was it like entering a malesince then? One of the significant changes I have noticed dominated field? In the USA, I was in a very competitive residency programme as Johns Hopkins was voted as the number is that people are more educated and well-versed in plastic one hospital in the USA. I was the first foreign graduate in surgery procedures. The demand for both surgical and nonthe programme. I worked very hard during that time and was surgical treatments has noticeably increased. Also, with truly grateful for this opportunity. Coming back to the UAE, I improved technologies, the non-surgical antiaging induswas surprised to find that my patients were more comfortable try has boomed. I have noticed that the age at which prosharing their concerns with me being a woman, and in fact, I cedures are being done is much younger than before. This felt it was an added advantage. could be due to social media and increased awareness.

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Dr Buthainah Al-Shunnar, the first Emirati female plastic surgeon, is breaking down barriers in a male-dominated field. Aiming to help people feel their best selves both inside and out, particularly for breast cancer sufferers, she tells us why plastic surgery is so much more than a simple nip and tuck


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One of the key focuses for your clinic is breast surgery – you must have helped many women who have suffered from breast cancer. Can you outline how you help treat this? A mastectomy is a procedure where the breast is removed in order to eliminate breast cancer. My role as a Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon is to recreate the breast after it has been removed. Reconstruction can be performed with the use of an implant or using one’s own tissues (e.g. back muscle or tummy fat). These procedures can have a tremendous impact on a woman’s emotional wellbeing. During such treatments, what sort of relationship do you build up with your patients? It must be a very special one. Breast cancer can be a daunting expe-

rience to go through. The amount of changes in one’s life and the uncertainty that comes with it often creates a situation where a woman may feel vulnerable and scared. I often meet patients when they are first diagnosed and I go through their entire journey with them. It is always a long-term relationship and my entire clinic is dedicated to this cause. What are some key lessons you would like people to take from your career? Do what you love to do and are passionate about even if it requires a lot of hard work. Take every hurdle as an opportunity to learn and grow. Be grateful every day. Looking back over your career, what are some challenges you’ve had to overcome? Hurdles are a part of every journey. I was brought up in a very protected environment and looking back, I can safely say that leaving home at the age of 17 was both exciting and intimidating. The most challenging period, however, was during my residency programme at the John Hopkins Hospital where I was the only Arab woman in a very competitive environment which required perseverance, dedication, and will. Setting up the clinic in Dubai was also challenging as I quickly realized there is a completely different skill set in being a doctor versus being an entrepreneur. Being a business owner was a very steep learning curve for me and I feel I am still learning something new every day. On the opposite end of the spectrum, what have been the key milestones? I became the first Emirati Female Plastic Surgeon and, up-to-date, the only American Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon. I also received the award of ‘Distinguished Surgeon’ by Dubai Health Awards in 2018, on the same day when my mother, Dr Zainab Kazim, received her ‘Lifetime Achievement’ award. It was really the highlight of my career. My clinic, Al Shunnar Plastic Surgery, received the award for Best Cosmetic Surgery Clinic & Leading Specialist in Breast & Aesthetic Facial Surgery in 2019 & 2020, consecutively. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – how would you define a renegade? I consider myself very lucky! Despite being brought up in a conservative environment my parents were forward thinkers and very supportive of me and my journey. At the time, it was extremely unusual for a young girl to go to the US alone to pursue such a demanding career, especially in a male-dominated environment. I am forever thankful for all the support and encouragement my family gave me.


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The celebratory intervention Homecoming takes over Alserkal Avenue from September to December 2021. Across both internal and external areas at Alserkal Avenue, home to a diverse community and a wide public audience, Homecoming activates cultural space as a source of comfort and wellbeing in these challenging times and recollects ourselves in the present moment.

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Janine Gaëlle Dieudji

Can you expand on how you started out in the art world and was curation always a passion? As a multilocal, I lived so many different lives in different places that led me to where I am today, but my initial path and academic background were not really designed to take me here. I studied Sociology, Political Science, then International Studies & Culture as I was fascinated with diplomacy and wanted to be one of these women in suits, but it never suited me. Although I already had some experience in the arts as an in intern in France and used to visit museums and art spaces such as Galerie du jour Agnès b., moving to Florence definitely played a huge role. Living and breathing in an open-air museum such as the city of Renaissance made me fully embrace my creativity, from the way I dress to how I started crafting my future. From visual arts, fashion to cinema, I had the privilege to interact and build relationships with so many creative minds who inspired me and still continue to do so. My experiences led me on to being an art studio manager, an independent art consultant, then Vice President and co-Director of the cultural association Black History Month Florence (BHMF), which I still am today, as well as Director of Exhibitions at the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) in Marrakech since 2017.


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Does curating come from both head and heart and how do you balance the two when selecting works to showcase? A few years ago, a curator told me that “we curate emotions”. This has stayed with me since then. I don’t really define myself as a curator, mostly as a cultural producer and an ‘artivist’, a creative that sees and tries to understand the world surrounding her under the lens of art. I tried for quite long to separate the head from the heart in my work, but a few years ago, I came to the fact that they create magic together, and I embrace it. Curating an exhibition, like producing an artwork, comes from different places, but very often from a place of emotion. Curating is also about putting artists and their artworks first, sometimes making their dreams come true, not yours. Selecting works for an art project is a process, that starts with what we’re trying to say, to communicate, and I’m grateful to the Alserkal Arts Foundation and its team for the invitation to contribute to the narrative they are crafting within their institution. In the case of Homecoming, we wanted to repurpose the public space, but also to remind the public of their role and place in the art community. Proposing textbased interventions such as the works of artists like Lakwena Maciver, whose work I came across for the first time in London in 2015 with the mural “BE BAD UNTIL YOU’RE GOOD”, Kameelah Janan Rasheed and Augustine Paredes who question knowledge production and the occupation of physical and mental spaces felt the right choice to me, and I’m truly happy Alserkal’s team went for that. We’ve been facing critical times for almost two years now. The COVID-19 crisis clearly showed us that multilateralism only works in times of peace. The various social protests around the world during this time brought a special attention to matters such as racism, police brutality, inequality amongst people, matters around xenophobia and discrimination, as people started to develop and encourage the notion of critical thinking. What does your role as Exhibitions Director at the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) involve? I joined MACAAL in 2017 in Florence then moved to Marrakech. It’s been an incredible experience so far as I’ve navigated into so many different fields in the art world. I’m committed to building an inclusive museum, through the curation and production of exhibitions, as well as educational programmes and artist residencies. Key areas of my work consist in overseeing the exhibitions programmes at MACAAL, developing and producing public programmes, art residencies, contributing to institutional partnerships relations, and special projects. I also curate exhibitions and write on topics pertaining to contemporary African art and artists, museums, and cross-cultural interactions.

Lakwena Maciver

What first led you to work in the art space and how did you define your preferred medium? My practice is mainly based around painting, but more recently I’ve enjoyed being able to work with the fluidity of textiles. I’m interested in the connotations of banners and flags, especially the political and heraldic connotations surrounding them. The way they lend themselves to bearing messages, is something that feels like a very natural medium for my work. Can you expand on the inspiration behind your use of bold typographic texts? I’m really interested in messages as I think a lot about the different types words that we’re surrounded by in this modern society. Words often have a hidden meaning behind them and they’re trying to sell us something. I think words are very powerful, so I see my work, particularly when it’s in public spaces, as a manner of diversifying public speech. How did it feel when you were first approached by the Alserkal Arts Foundation for its latest public intervention? I was intrigued with how the project was based in Dubai, as I hadn’t displayed my work here before. To be a part of the wider project and connect with different artists opens up a whole new world for me which is really exciting. Your approach to art is instinctive – was this from the outset and has your style grown over time? As a child, art was an instinctive way for me to process experiences. It was a coping mechanism, and in many ways still is. What people see as positive affirmations are my response to the difficulties and how life can be. Each piece speaks truth into real life situations. As I’m invited to make work on an incredibly larger scale, there is more need for careful planning, so in these contexts I’m not able to improvise as much, but in the planning stages, the work is still very much led by instinct. You challenge the voice of mass media – tell us more about this approach? Mass media is controlled by a small number of people who very much set the agenda for what is spoken about, what is celebrated, what is valued and what is believed. This gives them immense power to comment on culture. My intention with my work is to subtly challenge some of the concepts promoted by mass media. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – When have you had to take this approach to life and who do you feel is a true renegade in their field? I was born into this society, but I’m constantly questioning its prevailing beliefs and principles, and asking myself whether what is currently fashionable is actually true and life-giving. My practice is very much an outworking of that on a daily basis. The American comedian Dave Chappelle seems to be a true renegade to me.


“I was born into this society, but I’m constantly questioning its prevailing beliefs and principles”


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Some of the most inspirational women we know describe what the word ‘renegade’ means to them C O M P I L E D BY: O L I V I A M O R R I S

THE REN E SARA AQEL CHEF DE CUISINE AT FI’LIA @chef_sara, @filiadubai How would you define a renegade? In my opinion, a renegade is someone who breaks the mould. Having been born and raised in Jordan, I’ve come across many people who despite their circumstances have fought for success and a chance at a better life. Despite traditional patterns and obstacles, the role models in my life have adapted and created opportunities for themselves when it looked like there were none. That is what I call a true renegade; Someone who breaks barriers to create a path to success despite the odds. Who are the renegades in your life? My renegades and the women that have made the biggest impact in my life are most definitely my sisters. My sister Zeena the athlete, implements discipline in her life as a key component and has taught me that without method and practice we will remain stagnant. My sister Heba the lawyer, who from a very young age taught me the importance of having a valid and strong argument. As a woman in the Middle East, working in a male-

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dominated industry, this was a critical skill to pick up. Lastly, my oldest sister Donia, the youngest director at a multinational empire. Donia taught me to prioritize resilience. When the chips are down, walk right over them and keep moving. Collectively, my sisters have been paramount in moulding me and are my renegades.

JOUHAYNA AL MHEIRI AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL OFFICER, SHEIKH ZAYED AIR NAVIGATION CENTER @voice.in.a.pilots.headset How would you define a renegade? Someone who is unapologetically themselves. Someone who pursues what they believe in even if it means going against the norm of what is expected of them. Who are the renegades in your life? The renegades in my life are the women that raised me to be the woman I am today. My grandmothers, my mother and my aunty.

AMAL MURAD THE FIRST EMIRATI FEMALE PARKOUR ATHLETE @leap.of.hope How would you define a renegade? In my opinion, it’s anyone who decides to follow what is right for them and not necessarily the conventional route or path. Who are the renegades in your life? My mom has always been someone who showed me that it’s okay to want to be more than just an employee. She started her own business when she was only 20 and still works to this very day. I think we, as women, have been conditioned that we only can be mothers or work in very specific jobs that are deemed feminine. She taught me that you are the one that’s responsible for your own life and only you will end up living with your decisions.

ASMA AL JANAHI THE FIRST EMIRATI WOMAN TO FINISH THE IRONMAN 70.3 FIVE TIMES @oozyaljanahi How would you define a renegade? Doing things in a different way that is creative, innovating and enhancing. Who are the renegades in your life? The people around me who discover new ways to do things differently and follow their passion. They inspire me every day to forge my own path.


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N EGADES LYNDSAY DORAN FOUNDER OF L’COUTURE @lcoutureofficial How would you define a renegade? For me, a renegade is someone who breaks down barriers and pushes boundaries. It’s someone who strives for change, leads innovation and creates a new, better world within communities. Who are the renegades in your life? My L’Couture dream team! I see creativity and innovation from them every day. We are constantly coming up with new ideas & thinking outside the box when it comes to any aspect of the brand, from product to marketing. They never fail to impress me!

AMNA AL QUBAISI THE FIRST EMIRATI FEMALE RACING DRIVER @amnalqubaisi_official How would you define a renegade? When a person breaks loose from the accepted norm and isn’t focused on convention. Who are the renegades in your life? That would be my younger sister who’s also a racing driver and the first woman in history to claim a podium in the Italian F4 – Hamda Al Qubaisi. Also, my cousin who also became the first Emirati to graduate from Harvard, Fatima Al Qubaisi.

KIRSTYN LEWIS ASTROLOGER, ENDURANCE RIDER & FOUNDER OF THE KARMIC SOUL @thekarmicsoul How would you define a renegade? Of course, in the modern sense of the word, I see a renegade as a rebellious, free-spirited soul who lives fearlessly, driven by an innate determination to right the wrongs. A lovable rogue. I also see them as deeply introspective, compassionate and sympathetic to the problems of others. Who are the renegades in your life? Firstly, the Catholic Nuns who taught me at school. Those women were afraid of nothing, they instilled so much confidence in all


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of us to do whatever we put our mind to. I remember being inspired by the remarkable story of the first female US Secretary of State, Czech born Madeleine Albright. She grew up in war-torn Europe and went on to become the highest-ranking female politician the world had ever seen. She was an advocate for peace in the Middle East and a key figure in some of the most dramatic events in politics at the time. She also bravely fought for the aspirations of other immigrants arriving in America. I see the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, as an equally important and courageous politician. Like Madeline, she will leave a legacy as a compassionate, inspirational leader who marched to the beat of a different drum. Angela Sheldrick is an almost daily inspiration for me. Continuing her family’s work through Kenya’s Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, she works both tirelessly and fearlessly to protect animals from poachers. It takes a renegade to operate the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation programme in the world.

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The Pad

Stand out investment pieces 118 emirateswoman.com

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Above and left page: 9’2 “High Roller Gun” Custom Wooden Marquetry Surfboard feat 24 Carat Gold POA available at 1stdibs.com; Below: Morro Coffee Table in Nero Marquina Black Marble POA Kelly Wearstler available at 1stdibs.com

From left: Bronze “Junction” Wall Light Dhs2,666 available at 1stdibs.com; Togo camel leather sofa designed by Michel Ducaroy 1973 Dhs10,900 Ligne Roset available at selency.nl; Apollo Stool in Nero Marquina Marble Dhs14,655 Kelly Wearstler available at 1stdibs.com; 10’9 “Gun” Custom Wooden Marquetry Surfboard with Copper Inlay POA available at 1stdibs.com; Togo corner armchair set model designed by Michel Ducaroy 1973 Dhs8,700 Ligne Roset available at selency.nl


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A Pioneering Vision

Portuguese-born architect and visual artist Ana D’Castro on incorporating art into public spaces and creating sensorial experiences

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What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? I walk every day at the park in my community, itʼs my meditative moment that sets my creative mindset for the day. I enjoy the early sunlight which is the sharpest between 5:30am to 6am, as it casts light onto nature – the entire process is magical. What inspired you to go into the artistic space and how did you define your medium? I was raised in an artistic environment. My grandfather was a painter, so at an early age, I had been exposed to the world of fine arts. My parents always shed light onto the world of Arts and Culture in all forms, since my early years. I had been taken to museums, poetry readings, ballet and music performances. It eventually became very natural to me, to appreciate beauty in all forms. Additionally, my father always took me with him on long expeditions into nature and from an early age I was nurtured into appreciating natural beauty and small details. You love to create work on a large scale – why does this speak to you more? I believe that when working on large scale formats you are faced with a greater challenge, and therefore the creative process involves a deeper understanding of scale and proportion. In my last exhibition “Enchanted Gardens” I painted large formats such as 6m wide by 2m high and 4m wide x 2m high pieces which were exhibited at the gallery. You can appreciate the importance of scales with these works of art, there are two important scales which include a close up, when you are painting the canvas with a minimum distance and the largescale format is when you see the work from afar and can appreciate its dimension. This is the most difficult element to achieve when painting such large formats, as you have to imagine how the painting will look from a far distance. You have to anticipate the abstract process and create studies of how you want to proportion your painting, the movement of the painting and the colours that you’ll place in the determined areas. At the studio, the space is limited and definitely not as grand as the gallery, where you can really immerse yourself into the canvas and experience it from different points of view. Can you expand on your creative process and do you have a particular time when you feel most inspired to work daily? You donʼt wake up to inspiration as an act of magic, you work through the day to find it. I work every day with a systematic routine, itʼs not a luxury that I wake up and feel. It is the determination and the constant hard work that brings a consecutive evolution of the works. My most inspiring moments come alive during the creative process itself. It is only when you are so absorbed and consumed by your works that you really start to understand the materials and their poten-

tial. For Instagram, when I’m at the studio working on several pieces in parallel, I discover a new technique and ponder upon my previous process to evolve upon that. Your works will be displayed at Expo 2020 Dubai. How did this incredible recognition arise? Currently I have a large solo show at Leila Heller Gallery in Alserkal Avenue and this is a great showcase of my latest work. The invitation to participate in Expo 2020 came from the Portuguese Pavilion Director who invited me directly to contribute with my works. I will have an external urban art installation, a large painting and an artistic video about my work and the process behind it displayed over the main Pavilion façade. How has your work progressed since you first started and what has influenced this change? My process consists in painting several pieces at the same time, and by doing it so thereʼs an element of infectious dialogue between all the artworks; as if during the process of creation, they contagiously impact each other. On a subconscious level Iʼm constantly being fed by the evidence itself, therefore thereʼs a

“Creating is like breathing for me, I cannot live without it.” constant obsession of mitigating the action of matter and form and elevating it to a pure and perfect residualized outreach. Throughout the creative process thereʼs a continuous practice of realization and elimination of ideas, fundaments and paradigms, reinventing the theory per se and persistently searching for knowledge and perfection. The progression and mutation of the processual interplay embrace a journey of destructive creation. The artwork series comprise one of the main signature techniques of the artist, the impasto, subdividing it into three main categories represented into the series. The first being uniform relieve, then soft petals, then imperfect violent patches. The different series stand as an example of how the serial and cycle work affirm the processual in art. There is a constant evolution of the technique, and by exploring it, manipulating and revisiting the action in itself, we can understand the variation of the conceptual idea. Do you have a piece of work that is most special to you? Yes, my favourite painting is Water Lilies dated 2016, every time I look at it, I fall in love, there is something special about it that I cannot explain.


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What drives you to continually create and grow? My extreme ambition. Creating is like breathing for me, I cannot live without it. It is a constant intellectual development of how you process the world around you and how you transform the emotions associated with this act of living. My continuous curiosity for the world out there and life in general, this is what makes me grow, I always want more. Which other artists are on your radar? I am fascinated by Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Monet and Georgia OʼKeeffe. These have been my lifetime inspirations. I am also greatly inspired by Olafur Eliasson and Samia Halaby. What advice would you give now to your younger starting out? No advice really, life should be unpredictable, thatʼs why itʼs worth living. The only constant is that you must always believe in yourself no matter what; determination is key. What is your advice on buying art? One must buy what connects with yourself. I donʼt have a rationalized theory about this, for me art should ultimately connect with you, it should be a very natural and organic relationship between the artwork and buyer, whatever connection or feeling that is, there must be a connection. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – when have you needed to take this approach to life and who else to you is a true renegade in their field? I am an artist, architect and a mother of three children. Can you imagine how many times I have been labeled and put in a box for having to choose between one or another? Critics like to think you cannot be an artist if you are an architect, or you abandon your kids to pursue a career? In general society loves to label and categorize people. There are very few people/ administrations that value and appreciate the empowerment that comes from crossing boundaries and disciplines. I truly believe that creativity is nurtured into the crossing of disciplines, I personally get my inspiration from all corners, music, ballet, fashion, contemporary dance. It is truly how you look at the world and educate yourself that you grow. I would say that as a renegade and for me if I look into my life, one of the main aspects that defines my personality is that I am honest and unapologetic, I really donʼt endure situations I donʼt like, I always speak my mind and I leave when I had enough. Life is too short to endure situations that donʼt benefit you, you must have the courage to face reality, admit your failures and mistakes and move on by learning from it. It is even more important to appreciate your victories and celebrate your achievements, this is what gives you power for life. Most of the times we donʼt celebrate ourselves enough, we tend to criticize or victimise it.

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The Mind Switch

Transforming her life, Muskan Taurani, Founder of That Wonderful Feeling left behind a corporate career in favour of a new path in health coaching as a certified functional medicine health coach


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What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine? I like to wake up slightly before the house stirs which for me is between 5:30 to 5:45 am. I relish the silence it brings; with the start of newness and the promise it holds. I begin each morning with a prayer of thanks for the evening that passed in peace and the day ahead. I start my day with a glass of turmeric water followed by a black coffee. After which I head to a quiet corner for a 15 to 20 minutes visualization meditation. By this time, it’s time to wake up my kids and I look forward to the organised chaos of getting ready for school. What was the catalyst to change your life path and how did you decide upon functional medicine? It’s funny you ask this, because in life, sadly it is sometimes only when something unexpected “happens” we get a reality check of what is important. There were two moments like this for me that really shook me up and made me take stock of what was happening in my life and how much I needed to change my lifestyle. These “signs” are your body’s way of speaking to you and forcing you to seek help before things hit rock bottom. Six months after having my third child, I was on the treadmill and fell off in the middle of running, as I had a blackout. Nothing serious at the time however, once I regained consciousness my body was frozen and I wasn’t able to move for a few minutes. When I did get my stability back, I felt like something was not right as

I started moving. It took me several visits to the doctors to be diagnosed with spondylitis, where even my six-month-old baby’s weight was too much for me to carry. A few months after that, I fell gravely ill with immense gut and other chronic health issues. Once again, they couldn’t figure out the cause or effect. It was the diagnosis by functional doctors which really made me reassess everything. The quality of time, guidance and knowledge that I gained from some of the functional doctors got me interested in this new way of living and learning from it for myself and my family. I was curious to know; how is it by treating the root cause of one issue, that we can also heal so many other elements in our physical and emotional body. I started learning and looking at various healing modalities, and functional medicine ways of living where the root cause is constantly addressed. What started off as a personal wellness journey led to helping others, men, women, young adults. That’s how ‘That Wonderful Feeling’ was born. I feel as human beings we strive for that wonderful feeling in our daily life. Even a small element of it can take us through the entire day and sometimes weeks. I was passionate about clean eating, quality nutrition and movement promoting health. Simple changes and improvements in one’s lifestyle with exercise, diet, nutrition and ways to add positivity and vitality can simply reverse chronic complex diseases. Burnouts have become a common occurrence in corporate life. What practices are best to avoid this? Easier said than done for most of us, is limiting screen time. I feel it to be the bane of all existence. Yes, itʼs hard, but do consciously try and cut it off an hour or two before bedtime. As well as excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages and processed food which can cause havoc with digestion. So much healing takes place, on a cellular level, from a good nightʼs sleep. It leads to the reset we are looking for to start the day over. In the age of anxiety and burnouts, self-care is essential, as it helps to restore or refuel our own overall energy. My favourite example is we can eat all the organic food, kale salad and do yoga but if within us there is sadness and a feeling of lack and feeling of extreme exhaustion then whatever you are eating and doing won’t show at all. Self-care is a regular, intentional process. We have to cultivate time and devote ourselves selfishly to protecting and sustaining mental health. Instead of caffeinating ourselves, how about allowing our body to sleep instead because at the end of the day that’s what we really are craving, quality rest. Each healing is bespoke to the individual client – can you expand on the approach to this? I am a firm believer that there can never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to anything in life. There can be similarities, but it needs to be customised based on your lifestyle, your needs,


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likes, dislikes, upbringing, home environment, social environment, finances and work commitments. Everything comes into play when creating a custom-made diet, lifestyle and wellness programme and we continuously modify and tweak it because you as a person, keep growing and changing. At the end of the day, we all know what we should be eating, and not doing, there is ample information out there, but my role as a health coach is to hold your hand every step of the way guiding you to make those sustainable, long-term lifestyle changes so that each day is one of contentment and fulfillment with an element of excitement. What are the most common areas that need work for clients you treat? This also depends, but generally, clients come in with a desire to shift their weight and educate themselves on nutrition but as they progress, they start changing and thriving in other areas because it is all linked together. When you start becoming more fit, your confidence improves, your ability to try different things gets perked up and that feeds into how you are at home and around your colleagues. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, pieces start coming together and we work on each part of you till it all fits well. It’s a holistic approach. The whole person is considered and not fragments of life, career or health. The road to self-improvement is a gradual process, what is the most challenging aspect of this? The challenging part is staying on the

my story; or a struggle I am going through, as something very similar has happened to them and hearing me speak about it has helped them. I recently expressed my emotions about dropping my daughter off at boarding school. It stirred many emotions, and I was so grateful to people sharing their emotions and experiences. This really opens up the avenue for new dialogue. What was your most fulfilling professional moment to date? The two instances which really stand out are; when I helped a client lose some “stuck” weight, improve her endurance and connect with herself on a spiritual level. I got a handwritten note in the age of WhatsApp, where at the end of our nine weeks together she wrote “Thank you for giving me my health back.” I felt so grateful for accompanying her on this journey. Secondly, I spoke at a corporate event on mental, emotional health and gut connection. Towards the end of the workshop, I had some of the clients crying because they could connect the dots of their personal journey and how they had brushed their problems under the carpet. Do you think the pandemic has been a catalyst to take a different approach to wellness in terms of not only body but also mind? Most definitely this is something good that has come out of the pandemic. Thanks to COVID, self-care, looking after your overall wellness have really come to the forefront because it is a form of mental health. It is a reset that everyone deserves and needs. One of the challenges of 2021 will be to continue making wellness and wellbeing a priority, setting boundaries and finding purpose, once the pandemic has passed. What piece of advice would you give to your younger self? I would say, trust your instincts. Don’t think too much about the pros, cons, and the logic behind it. Do what you believe would make you happy. There is a reason it’s called gut instinct. Our gut is our second brain, and it knows and feels things before we know it. Secondly, don’t try too hard with people where you try to constantly fit in only to become uncomfortable and lose yourself in the process. It’s tiresome, toxic and unroad. Life happens to all of us and we can shift or change the direction we are going on every healthy on many levels. Just be yourself, be as now and then and that’s absolutely ok. But open as you can be. The people who are comstaying on the road, and remembering that patible or attracted to you will find their way it is a journey, a gradual process. Like peelto you. The conversations will flow, and it will be so natural. Be yourself and do your thing ing the layers of an onion. Each layer unravels knowing that the universe has your back. something new and rewarding. Being kind to yourself is so important. We are all judgmental This is ‘The Renegade Issue’ – who according and critical of how we look and see ourselves; to you is going against the grain in their field but there is only one you, which is unique. and achieving something great? Drake has Self-respect, self-worth, self-improvement, really been at the forefront recently with his self-care, there is a reason it all starts with the clean eating, fitness and especially mental word Self. Only we can give it to ourselves and health awareness. He has also been promotstaying on the road is a form of self-respect. ing his new venture Matcha bar. Beyonce has been encouraging her audiences since You share your own personal stories on social the first Coachella to show some kindness media. How has this helped you connect with to the planet by encouraging plant-based clients? Yes, definitely. We all have someeating. Both of these celebrities are strong what similar struggles in life and there is a advocates of clean eating and looking after mirroring effect that takes place with other the “whole-holistic you” and share their clients. I will get messages where a client or a struggles challenges and achievements. follower has expressed thank you for sharing


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Changing the Game

Heba El Habashy is changing the interiors space one piece of furniture at a time with made-toorder brand Klekktic 126 emirateswoman.com

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Can you talk us through your career? My career for the past 10 years has been extremely focused on early-stage startups and tech. I graduated from Harvard in 2011 and started working almost immediately at a startup accelerator in Cairo called Flat6Labs. It was a mind-blowing experience to be exposed to the entrepreneurial energy in Egypt after the revolution. Following that, I moved to Dubai and started working at Uber in its super early days. Again this experience was focused on launching a brand into the UAE market and really educating customers on the value that Uber brings. My next adventure was at the Dubai Design District where I joined the management team right before the district launched. This was an integral part of my career as it really introduced me to the design space in the UAE. My most recent job experience was working at PANGAIA, a materials science brand focused on sustainability. This was one of the most surreal experiences of my

career as I worked on something for a number of years during the inception stage without really having the faintest idea of how big it would later become. How did you find yourself entering into the interiors space? I have always been super excited by furniture. When I was at d3 I learned a lot about the main players in this space in the UAE. At that time there were very few brands that produced locally, and so I just assumed that local manufacture was overpriced or not successful. Fast forward to a few years when I moved houses in March of 2020 a gap I the home goods space in the market became extremely obvious. There was almost no supply of mid-priced furniture that was design forward. I tried to work with random factories that I found through interior groups on Facebook to produce some pieces that I had in mind, but this process was painful. They never replied, and the pricing was very random and not transparent. They also didn’t

have the right information from me so the product was a disaster. Following this experience Klekktic was born! What was the inspiration behind Klekktic? The inspiration behind Klekktic came from my own experience moving but also from all of my friends and brother in law who were during that time period also looking to move and build a home that had a slightly more elevated interior aesthetic that was a step up from the common big box furniture retailers. Meanwhile my husband is a big design and furniture aficionado so together we thought up this concept. This all came together to inspire me to explore the local furniture manufacturing segment and really work out how we can bring well made, special pieces that are easy to customize. Your concept cuts out the middlemen in the furniture process. How did you discover this gap in the market? Furniture is a tremendous consumer segment but surprisingly it has not evolved like fashion or beauty have

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in decades. Furniture retailers in the UAE are usually international brands that manufacture their products in country A, ship it to country B for warehousing and then dispatch the goods to country C (in another warehouse!) and then sell it to customers in specific specs and colours. I found it shocking that for me to get a couch I was basically paying for it to be transported around the world, for a fancy store, salespeople and so on rather than the actual couch itself. It also goes without saying that the CO2 footprint of bringing these items to market through this exhaustive journey is unacceptable given the current state of the planet. You launched the brand just six months ago – how have things evolved since then? In the last seven months, we have evolved beyond my wildest dreams! When we first launched, we were working with a handful of customers that reluctantly bought a limited number of items from us and found it hard to understand the concept. We had to handhold almost every early customer through the process and explain everything many times. Now we have customers from all sorts of different backgrounds ordering directly through our site without interacting with us almost at all. They understand the purpose of ordering their free swatch pack as well as the delivery timeline. We have also seen a large number of repeat busines especially coming from interior designers. In the last few months, we noticed that customers are ordering much larger basket sizes and sometimes coming to us to furnish their entire space. We also work with more businesses and real estate companies now that are looking to furnish common areas, restaurants, or apartment rentals. What is at the core of Klekktic’s brand DNA? We love giving people a blank canvas that they can customize to make a piece that has a lot of personality which they can really fall in love with. We love the simplicity and focus a lot on materials, and fabrics. Most of our fabrics can be cleaned with soap and water which is super practical especially for our customers who are obsessed with white! We also love to use more sustainable fabrics that have no or almost no plastics (polyester). Lastly at Klekktic, we don’t like to take ourselves to seriously. We try to have fun with our communications and really use social media in the most lighthearted way possible which has been very effective in creating an open dialogue between ourselves and our customers. Can you talk us through the pieces you currently have available under Klekktic’s umbrella? We are slowly building out all the categories you need for a full Klekktic home! The only thing we have not introduced yet is a proper dining collection. Some of our bestselling products

“We love the simplicity and focus a lot on materials, and fabrics. Most of our fabrics can be cleaned with soap and water which is super practical.”

are our sofas, especially The Damien and our upholstered beds. People have customized them in every colour under the sun and the feedback on these items is insane. We also have an outdoor collection, a number of accent chairs and coffee and side tables. Do you plan to expand the offering? Our ultimate goal is to have everything you would need in your home. From smaller accessories to more essential items that we don’t carry yet. We aim to expand weekly and we are very happy with the new products that will be dropping every month from now until the end of the year! What is the start to finish process of a piece of Klekktic furniture? Once we receive an order the suppliers are notified – we have been able to automate this process, thanks to our very patient and enthusiastic supply partners. After the product is made and upholstered it goes through a quality control process which is very lengthy, and we do that through a team that is now dedicated exclusively to quality control. Finally, the product is delivered to the customer, unpacked and installed if needed. This whole process takes about three weeks from start to finish. What is your most popular piece? Our most popular piece is The Damien Sofa and The Damien bed. People love a comfy sofa and we really think we haven’t tried a more comfortable sofa than The Damien. The sofa took months and months to develop though it looks simple. We have worked out the perfect ratio between memory foam and hypoallergenic filling that gives the Damien the right shape and feel. The memory foam we use is one of the most expensive filling options in the market, but we really think that it makes the sofa look and feel heavenly. As for the Damien bed, it’s the ultimate statement for a modern and minimal bedroom. A lot of customers bundle both


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together either in the same fabric or in completely different colours. At present, we are expanding the Damien collection due to popular demand to include a day bed, a single-seater and a one and a half seater. In terms of building your brand and throughout your career, what have been the challenges you’ve experienced? It’s been very hard for me to balance my personal life with my career. I always feel very passionate about whatever I’m doing which I’m really lucky to experience however, my personal life can at times get the shorter end of the stick as a result. After having my first son I have really had to work on that because I realized that my family needs to take priority. As a result, I have been able to really integrate them into my work life and they are very involved in Klekktic – from factory visits to sampling to ideation they really support me beyond words! On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are the key milestones? The milestones I experienced are working at some phenomenal brands before they even launched in their respective markets like UBER, Pangaia, Flat6Labs and d3. Also I would say the biggest milestone is launching Klekktic and really witnessing it take on a life of its own. I can’t take full credit for this because there were almost a village of people who supported me and encouraged me. My husband really helped appease a lot of the doubt I initially had between leaving a safe and stable job and starting my own business. It’s hard to imagine having done any of this without him. What’s next for Klekktic? So many things, where do I begin! We will soon be unveiling a physical space – we shy away from calling it a showroom because it’s a lot more than that – we really want people to experience their potential Klekktic home and have fun in the process. We have taken feedback from about 200 of our past customers and so now we have a clear idea of what our target audience is looking for in a brick and mortar. We are also really looking forward to working with a number of corporates that we have partnered with to allow their new hires to get the full-on Klekktic home. It’s so exciting to see corporates take such a step to improve their employees quality of life and physical space outside of the office especially that many of them continue to work from home.

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The Wanderlust An edit of the most adventurous vacations for true adrenaline junkies 130 emirateswoman.com



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Active Volcanoes – Iceland

Shark Diving – Australia

Known as the ‘land of fire and ice’, Iceland is home to several active volcanoes. Earlier this year, Fagradalsfjall an active volcano in Iceland began erupting. The volcano is a 45-minute drive south of the country’s capital Reykjavík making it easily accessible for tourists and trekkers. As of September 2021, it’s the longest volcanic eruption to occur in 50 years.

For those who love to discover what the great depths of the ocean has, this adrenaline-filled activity is one to add to the list. Come face to face with great white sharks at the Neptune Islands in South Australia. The islands are uninhabited and are located off the coast of Port Lincoln, 40 nautical miles south of the South Australia town. Cage diving with the great whites involves being locked into a metal cage which is then lowered into the water on the side of a boat. Wearing a snorkel, participants can witness the great whites up close. The creatures can be up to five metres in size.


Just a 22-minute drive from Fagradalsfjall is the luxurious The Retreat at Blue Lagoon. This hotel enables guests to explore the beauty of Iceland with the perfect mixture of adventure and relaxation. For more information visit bluelagoon.com/accommodation/ retreat-hotel

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Take in the incredible views of the Eyre Peninsula at the Port Lincoln Hotel. On the doorstep of the marina where you’d be-

gin your quest to swim with the great whites, it’s a simple yet elegant hotel to be able to unwind at after a great day of adventure. For more information visit portlincolnhotel.com.au. Gorilla Trekking – Rwanda

Above: (from left) One&Only Gorilla’s Nest; The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland; Right: Azur Luxury Lodge

See some of the most magnificent creatures known to man up close in their natural habitat in Rwanda. Gorillas are some of the most awe-inspiring animals across the globe and getting to experience these animals up close will be an encounter you’ll never forget.


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Cliff Jumping – New Zealand

For the ultimate thrill-seeking activity, it doesn’t get much better than conquering the world’s highest cliff jump. Located in Queenstown, New Zealand, the Shotover Canyon Swing shoots adventure-seekers 109 metres into the canyon below.


With basking views of Queenstown in New Zealand, the Azur Luxury Lodge is the ideal place to stay amidst a holiday of adventure. The contemporary lodge has nine private villas with some of the most incredible views of New Zealand and is located just five minutes’ drive from the heart of Queenstown. For more information visit azur.co.nz. The Northern Lights – Finland


WHERE TO STAY – ONE&ONLY GORILLA’S NEST Situated in the heart of Rwanda is the One&Only Gorilla’s Nest resort. The luxury getaway is the closest resort to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda which is a historic rainforest home to diverse wildlife, including over 340 mountain gorillas. As part of the resort’s Virunga experience, guests can track endangered mountain gorillas in their natural habitat and see them up close. For more information visit oneandonlyresorts.com/ gorillas-nest


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One of the most incredible sites to witness the northern lights on Earth. Also known as the auroras, the phenomenon is caused by disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind which creates a dynamic display of light patterns in the sky. The best time of year to see the northern lights is between September and April.


When witnessing the incredible northern lights in Finland, make it a 360-degree experience by staying in an igloo. The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort East Village is home to an array of igloos including snow igloos, glass igloos and keto glass igloos all of which offer a different experience at this Finnish resort. During the midst of winter, it truly becomes a wonderland. For more information visit kakslauttanen.fi.

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The Renegade RESTAURANTEUR 134 emirateswoman.com

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9/30/21 3:13 PM

At just 25-years-old, Chef Sara Aqel is heading the first fully female-led restaurant in Dubai. Emirates Woman sat down with Fi’lia’s Chef de Cuisine to find out more about her career so far, what brought her to Dubai and the responsibility she feels breaking down barriers in this region Can you talk us through your career history? It all started at my family home in Palestine, where I would watch my family embellish the dinner table with delicious dishes that sparked my interest in food and dining. I then made my way to the reputable Les Roches to pursue the culinary arts. During this time I worked diligently to hone my skills and take them to my first professional venture, the Hong Kong Jokey club. I was privileged enough to work alongside a few of the world’s most talented Michelin Star Chefs and garner lessons and practices I use until today. After my experiences in Hong Kong I moved back to Jordan and worked at the Four Seasons Hotel where I accumulated a variety of new skills and was able to showcase them at my next venture in Dubai at the world-renowned Burj Al Arab and had the pleasure of being a part of the team that managed the pre-opening of Torno Subito with the acclaimed Massimo Bottura’s team. Finally, following the many thrilling experiences, I was re-born alongside my baby, Fi’lia. What drew you to the F&B industry and do you have a standout moment when you knew you wanted to be a chef? Dinner at home with my family was more than just a meal, it was an intimate meeting where my loved ones would gather and make memories. When I was young I helped my mother prepare food and would relish the moments we had as a family at our table. The facets that make the dining experience memorable are what intrigued me. From the food, to the layout and the ambience, I always strived to make each detail count. It wasn’t a moment, but a build-up of moments and passion that made me realize it’s where I belong, in the kitchen. Would you say your Palestinian-Jordanian heritage and culture contributed to your love for food? Of course! Our traditions and heritage revolve around gatherings, and gatherings in Palestine are incomplete without food. A regular conversation between my parents was what was on the menu for our guests. From the moment we received a guest to the moment they left, we would lay out an array of food and drink for them to enjoy. I believe this is a common trait and a form of love we share within the culture. You decided to focus on Italian cuisine – how did this come about? Where I come from, integrating comfort and passion in our meals is

essential and I can see that in the way Italian food is prepared and served. My culinary hero Massimo demonstrated just that by pouring his talents and love for food into his meals and has inspired me to do the same. Experimenting with the extensive list of Italian meals allows me to bring authenticity and wholesomeness to every meal. What eventually brought you to work in Dubai and how do you feel the F&B space differs from the rest of the world? The excitement of working in an eclectic city such as Dubai brought me here. The experiences, people and life has kept me in this energetic city! The F&B space is definitely very diverse and is growing by the second. The rate at which the F&B scene is expanding is challenging in the best way, I am inspired daily to broaden my skills and eager to do better.

“Don’t try to be the next anyone, be completely and unapologetically yourself.” At just 25, you became the head chef of a brand new restaurant empowering women – what an amazing accomplishment. What has the process been like working at such an innovative new venue in Dubai? I have been so lucky to have the most supportive and strong team that has made it possible and enjoyable to work as the head chef at Fi’lia. Every industry has its own challenges, but how you deal with them, and who helps you through them is what makes the difference. What has the reception to Fi’lia been like – both in terms of food, but in the way it’s breaking boundaries? The way the city has embraced Fi’lia with open arms has been overwhelming! Our team has radiated a welcoming energy that has ultimately allowed guests to naturally gravitate towards us. We’ve managed to stand out from a culinary perspective with our extensive menu, wholesome offerings, quality hospitality, and lastly being completely female-led.


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What advice would you give to other women hoping to make their way in the F&B Industry? Do it! You were probably born for it. Don’t try to be the next anyone, be completely and unapologetically yourself. What are your top five hero dishes at Fi’lia? My favourite dishes at Fi’lia go as follows; The Feta al Forno, the epitome of tantalising textures. The Vittello Tonnato, which consists of the most tender slow-cooked veal. The Pappardelle pasta, topped with a melt in your mouth veal with accents of citrus. The Jerusalem Artichoke pizza, unlike any other pizza, this ovenbaked special is coated with mozzarella and much more. The flavourful Seabass engulfed in a crust of feta and lastly the Cherry Tomato Salad, which is yet to be revealed on the menu! What are the hurdles you’ve experienced during your career? I have faced many challenges, some of which include my age, my ethnic background and being a woman. Nevertheless, I have also seen a drastic advancement in the industry. Nowadays the powerful men and women within the workforce have stood as supporters and have been instrumental in shifting these challenges into advantages. On the opposite end of the spectrum, what are the key milestones? Being the only person of Arab descent within the Hong Kong Jokey clubhouse felt like a milestone, not just for me but for the many Arab men and women back home. This feat was truly an eye-opener and gave me the courage and confidence which has led me here. What’s next for Fi’lia? As Dubai opens its arms to Fi’lia, the Italian-Mediterranean venue is becoming a haven to most. I’d like to see Fi’lia become the home away from home destination, where guests can immerse themselves in the wholesome atmosphere, honest food, and thoughtful hospitality all around. This is ‘The Renegade Issue’, championing people who are breaking the mould. Who would you say is a renegade? Since my establishment at Fi’lia I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside the bold and innovative entrepreneur Dima Ayad. Within the region, she has broken boundaries and challenged norms with her fashion label that supports women of every size. My hope is that we as women, whether we work in an office, kitchen or on a runway, be fearless about our views and beliefs and give future generations a choice and a chance.

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The Tabou bag is directly inspired by CELINE archives from the 80s Medium Tabou in tan calfskin Dhs9,900 CELINE

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BEAT BREAST CANCER WITH MEDICLINIC THIS OCTOBER, MEDICLINIC IS OFFERING A 50% DISCOUNT ON SCREENING MAMMOGRAMS PLUS A COMPLIMENTARY CONSULTATION WITH A DOCTOR. The offer is available at participating units in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Al Ain. Please visit www.mediclinic.ae for more information, locations and details of how to book your appointment.

I thought i was too young for breast cancer, I thought it's probably nothing. But then i got the "call". Early detection can save your life, gives you a higher probability to fight it, beat it, and a second chance! Sarah Ayoub Agha, Abu Dhabi- UAE

* Advance appointments required * Limited availability. Book early to avoid disappointment * Screening mammograms available for women over 40 with no prior breast symptoms who have not had a mammogram in the previous 12 months * Screening mammograms not applicable for patients with applicable insurance coverage




breguet inventor of the tourbillon


Articles inside

A Smart Solution – Exclusive interview with FARFETCH’s Global Vice President, Private Client article cover image

A Smart Solution – Exclusive interview with FARFETCH’s Global Vice President, Private Client

pages 40-41
The Innovator – Nensi Dojaka’s sensual, architectural pieces are designed to empower article cover image

The Innovator – Nensi Dojaka’s sensual, architectural pieces are designed to empower

pages 38-39
A Bold Step – Interview with Serena Uziyel article cover image

A Bold Step – Interview with Serena Uziyel

pages 82-83
Hot New Buys article cover image

Hot New Buys

pages 86-87
Fierce Feet – Exclusive Interview with FEMME Founder Janis Tello article cover image

Fierce Feet – Exclusive Interview with FEMME Founder Janis Tello

pages 64-65
The Catalyst for Change – Interview with Marriam Mossalli article cover image

The Catalyst for Change – Interview with Marriam Mossalli

pages 84-85
Cosy & Conscious – Interview with the Founder of / FAZ article cover image

Cosy & Conscious – Interview with the Founder of / FAZ

pages 58-61
Cool Comfort – Paris Texas’ unique take on footwear article cover image

Cool Comfort – Paris Texas’ unique take on footwear

pages 62-63
Rewriting the Rules – Interview with Davines Group CEO article cover image

Rewriting the Rules – Interview with Davines Group CEO

pages 88-89
Leap of Faith – Interview with Elborno Clinic article cover image

Leap of Faith – Interview with Elborno Clinic

pages 90-91
AM to PM Beauty – Sai Ferrera, UAE-based content creator article cover image

AM to PM Beauty – Sai Ferrera, UAE-based content creator

pages 98-99
A New World of Beauty – CNB Dubai creates an exclusive beauty experience article cover image

A New World of Beauty – CNB Dubai creates an exclusive beauty experience

pages 92-95
The Beauty Shelf – Esme Chapman article cover image

The Beauty Shelf – Esme Chapman

pages 96-97
In the Driver’s Seat – Amna Al Qubaisi, the first female Emirati racing driver article cover image

In the Driver’s Seat – Amna Al Qubaisi, the first female Emirati racing driver

pages 100-101
The Precision Piece – Co-Founder & CEO of Akoni, Rosario Toscano article cover image

The Precision Piece – Co-Founder & CEO of Akoni, Rosario Toscano

pages 102-105
Brave & Beautiful – Interview with Esme Chapman article cover image

Brave & Beautiful – Interview with Esme Chapman

pages 106-107
The History Maker – Nora Al Matrooshi, the first female Emirati astronaut article cover image

The History Maker – Nora Al Matrooshi, the first female Emirati astronaut

page 108
Fearless Combat – Interview with aspiring Olympic fencer, Asma Al Janahi article cover image

Fearless Combat – Interview with aspiring Olympic fencer, Asma Al Janahi

page 109
En Garde – Amal Murad, the first Emirati female parkour athlete article cover image

En Garde – Amal Murad, the first Emirati female parkour athlete

pages 110-111
New Lease of Life – Dr Buthainah Al-Shunnar, the first Emirati female plastic surgeon article cover image

New Lease of Life – Dr Buthainah Al-Shunnar, the first Emirati female plastic surgeon

pages 112-113
The Renegades – Inspirational women describe what the word ‘renegade’ means to them article cover image

The Renegades – Inspirational women describe what the word ‘renegade’ means to them

pages 116-117
An Artistic Interpretation – Alserkal Avenue article cover image

An Artistic Interpretation – Alserkal Avenue

pages 114-115
The Pad – Stand out investment pieces article cover image

The Pad – Stand out investment pieces

pages 118-119
A Pioneering Vision – Interview with architect and visual artist Ana D’Castro article cover image

A Pioneering Vision – Interview with architect and visual artist Ana D’Castro

pages 120-123
The Mind Switch – Interview with Functional Medical practitioner Muskan Taurani article cover image

The Mind Switch – Interview with Functional Medical practitioner Muskan Taurani

pages 124-125
Changing the Game – Interview with the founder of Klekktic, Heba El Habashy article cover image

Changing the Game – Interview with the founder of Klekktic, Heba El Habashy

pages 126-129
The Wanderlust – An edit of the most adventurous vacations for true adrenaline junkies article cover image

The Wanderlust – An edit of the most adventurous vacations for true adrenaline junkies

pages 130-133
The Renegade Restauranteur – Chef Sara Aqel is heading the first fully female-led restaurant in Dubai article cover image

The Renegade Restauranteur – Chef Sara Aqel is heading the first fully female-led restaurant in Dubai

pages 134-140