Exclusive Interview probably had the best team in Bahrain. Some nationalities are really good at certain jobs; for instance, the Vietnamese are renowned for being excellent nail technicians; I recruited from there too. The first few years were very smooth. However, after the political problems we faced many obstacles, which included many of our staff temporarily or permanently having to re locate outside Bahrain. But you know they say, “What doesn’t break you, makes you stronger”. We learned a lot, and managed to build a new team that our customers are very happy with today. What sets your spa apart, from others in Bahrain? When it comes to spa’s there is so much competition in Bahrain. But I don’t see many spas in Bahrain offering every service. We do Micro Dermabrasion, Spray Tan, acne treatments, hair care and all nail treatments; we also have a boutique selling luxury organic wear and skin care. So it really is a one-stop-shop. We also focus on customer service in a big way. The boutique was opened on the advice of my husband who is an investor. He felt if I only opened a spa then I was facing too much competition. So he suggested I did something that also gave me some leverage if the spa doesn’t do so well one month – I still have the income from the boutique and vice versa. It works really well.
“Shortly, we will be completing our expansion plans in Bahrain with 8 branches for Purple Swirl in total. Our next main milestone is our franchise project. I have already secured deals in India and Abu Dhabi and we have many more requests.” skip meals and live off organic, unsweetened live yogurts which you can buy anywhere. It was such a great way to lose weight. A big cup full of fruit and live yogurt is very filling, healthy and very delicious too. In fact, Purple swirl, my yogurt bar was supposed to open before the spa.
Where do you source your clothing from? BedHead. It is a sleep-wear line, in LA and we will be distributing their products, which are organic, shortly. They do a lot of community work especially for women empowerment. LemLem is an African-Ethiopian organic brand that again specialises in creating jobs, in those countries, for women. Otherwise a lot of the products are from Dubai or sourced from trade shows. Why the colour purple? How do you connect with it? I love the colour purple; also, it is said to have positive effects on the human brain. It is considered to be the most soothing of all the colours and is in fact the most powerful wavelength of the rainbow! I also used the word purple to maintain some association with my businesses – Purple Swirl cafe and Purple Patchouli Spa & Boutique. But I have another spa in Riffa called On the Glow; this is a Medi Spa which specialises in more specific skin treatments such as LASER and Eczema treatments; it also has a tanning bed. I have also just launched a distribution company, Casa Dermardo which will distribute the products I’m importing, to other salons around the region. You’re obviously very much into your beauty. Where did the idea for a yogurt bar materialise from? When I was studying in LA, I would often
When I came back, there was nothing of that sort here and so you can imagine my disappointment. I approached Pink Berry who hadn’t opened here at the time. But I was shocked when they informed me that it would cost two million dollars as franchise fee. So I approached other companies but couldn’t find what I was looking for. At this point I decided to learn more about the industry in order to create my own brand. Today, I honestly believe that Purple Swirl has nailed the frozen yogurt industry as we are truly healthy. You can go to most other stores but you will end up eating sugar which defeats the point. I think the market in Bahrain is yet to understand how beneficial yogurt is. All our ingredients are FDA approved and made from fresh milk and fresh active
cultured yogurt. Whereas most yogurt bars use powdered milk and yogurt. We are also very honest on the calories. Purple Swirl yogurt cafes are now at four locations in Bahrain. Three more stores have been finalised and a few more in pipeline. What kind of challenges have you faced on the competition front? The market in Bahrain is very competitive. One of the factors that I dislike about our market is the culture of copying. Many people tend to copy concepts exactly, where I believe they can come up with their own ideas that can just be as original as Purple Swirl if they put their own thoughts into them! The political issues in Bahrain forced us to try new areas. However, this has proven to be a successful step for Purple Swirl. Our Amwaj and Riffa branches are doing very well. You’ve opened up a number of businesses and expanded very quickly. Has there ever been a point where you thought – I’m out of my depth here? Definitely; on the difficult days I I wish I can just walk away and focus on just being a “mom”. I have a two year old son who I can’t spend a lot of time with, on the very busy days; my days are quite hectic. If I don’t have any meetings then I’m either at the salon or warehouse, or checking out new flavours. I end up getting torn apart between work and family life. Fortunately, my mother is very supportive. But I know that if I didn’t have my businesses and stayed at home then I would personally feel useless. What are your future projects? Shortly, we will be completing our expansion plans in Bahrain with 8 branches for Purple Swirl in total. Our next main milestone is our franchise project. I have already secured deals in India and Abu Dhabi and we have many more requests. As for the beauty field, I think my next salon will be over in LA! I say that because I’m someone who truly values quality, and only likes to work with the most professional people in the field. Recruiting high calibre employees in Bahrain, and importing these kind of products would just be too expensive. People would never appreciate it if the final price is too high!
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