July 14, 2024

Inspiring female entrepreneurs, based both locally and globally, share what they attribute their success to and what it takes to build and scale a brand.
Sheikha Mariam MKS
I’ve always believed that to be truly creative with your work and satisfied in life, you have to have a vision that gets you out of bed early each morning. When I found my calling in life I knew I wanted to turn it into a career, create a business and build a brand that I could be proud to call my own. It was these feelings, combined with the idea that a woman could stand on her own and write her own story in life, that inspired me to become the entrepreneur I am today.
Dedication, focus and creativity. Dedication is what ensures you never give up, even when you’re tired, overworked, or suffering a seemingly never-ending series of setbacks. Focus is what makes sure you get the task at hand sorted before moving on to the dozen other things you have to do that day. And creativity is that little spark of magic that allows you to stand out from the crowd. Put these three ingredients together, mix them up, and then stand back as an entrepreneur comes to life.
Salama Khalfan
I was in a transitional phase in my life that required me to take a step back. Upon reflection and careful planning, I architected a line of work for myself that would give me room to be creative which was something I always had and at the same time, enough business direction which is something that I understood and enjoyed very much. Jewellery has always been a big part of my life. From the admiring eyes of a child to an appreciating heart of a woman, I wanted to capitalise on my love for creation. It was a natural outcome and conclusion.
A successful entrepreneur knows that failure is normal. It’s never about not failing, it’s about how fast you can pick yourself up and get back on track. A successful entrepreneur also knows the importance of commitment and consistency. It’s about putting the effort consistently not just on days you feel like it but most especially on days that you don’t.
Amna Al Habtoor
Growing up and watching my father grow into one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the UAE has been truly inspirational. Until today, I’m in awe of how he overcame the many hurdles of entrepreneurship while being a strong and loving father to myself and my siblings. I appreciate how he created greatness for himself and his family. Likewise, I have always aspired to create something by myself and for my family too.
Of course, having a vision is great, but without a concrete plan, it would be very difficult for that vision to come to fruition. With that, being organized and planning your next step and ten steps after that thoroughly is needed to be a successful entrepreneur.
Sara Tamimi
The dream of building my own fashion house.
Being active where possible; keeping an eye on what’s going on worldwide to stay ahead of the game; and act fast – there is absolutely no time to waste!

I was raised in an entrepreneurial family, and it has always been an inherent passion to follow that path and to create something that has meaning and purpose. Having the freedom to realize my dreams and transform my vision into The Hundred has been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. I am proud and grateful that my purpose in life has translated and aligned into a successful business. The Hundred Wellness Centre has been a wonderful catalyst to fulfilling my commitment to serve and give back to the community and support others to achieve a healthier and wellness-focused life. When you lead from your heart and find your purpose and meaning, you can surrender to the outcome, that is when the magic happens.
I believe that wellness – ensuring a balance of physical, mental, and emotional health is the most important habit and paramount to being successful as an entrepreneur. Prioritising yourself and setting boundaries to ensure you have time for self-care – whether that is sleep, eating well, exercising, or praying, are all crucial to thinking, creating, and performing at your best. Writing your goals for the day ahead and what you wish to accomplish gives you wonderful structure, accountability, and clarity to focus on your priorities with motivation and confidence. I am fully invested in the idea of focusing your efforts on the areas that will bring the most rewards. It is simply about working smarter and identifying the factors in your business that will be most productive and ensuring they are your priority. Trust in your journey, and enjoy it, it is part of your success.
Nora Apotheca Beauty
Ten plus years ago, variety within the beauty space was seriously lacking. Large, global beauty conglomerates were widely available in the Middle East, however young, trendy high-growth beauty brands were hard to come by. We were then inspired to collaborate with these beauty entrepreneurs that were popping up across the US and UK, in an effort to offer more variety than what had been available in our market for years. We worked to bridge the gap in the Middle East between the local demand for niche beauty, and the desire these brands had to expand into our region. At Apotheca we focus on speciality beauty, as we place a heavy weight on the criteria of what we believe it takes for a brand to translate successfully into the region – that includes: quality and innovation. We focus on companies that specialize in a particular category of beauty, and therefore, have supreme quality in regard to what the market has to offer. In return, we solely distribute beauty and wellness brands, investing all efforts into what it takes to successfully penetrate into the region.
In addition to an enormous amount of self-discipline, dedication and endurance, to become a successful entrepreneur clear priorities should be established to reach a set goal. As an entrepreneur, you can be pulled in several directions numerous times a day, however, understanding what the priorities are and the ability to have a semi-flexible schedule allows you to cautiously direct your efforts to where they need to be. At work, I have clear schedules and plans for every day – 50 to 70 per cent of the tasks actually get accomplished on any given day, but I am okay with that. It is important to feel confident about yourself and what you can do. Therefore, you avoid being consumed with the feeling of guilt and remain motivated and empowered.
Lyndsay Doran
I’ve always been driven and determined to succeed since I was little, but it wasn’t until I started my fitness journey that I found my niche. I was constantly ordering activewear from overseas and getting frustrated by the lack of feminine activewear that didn’t compromise on fit and performance in the market. One day, my husband commented that I should start my own brand after seeing all the deliveries piling up – which made me think, why not? I spent a lot of time researching until I was ready to take the plunge. That was almost three years ago now and I never could have imagined the growth in such a short amount of time. Three locations include a brand new boutique at Mall of The Emirates, constantly evolving products and an amazingly talented team. It has been an incredible journey so far.
Constant research is key in this industry, to keep ahead of trends, the best sourcing of materials and taking into consideration what people love to wear. Determination, it takes time and effort to grow a business and there are setbacks along the way but you must learn from them and keep going. You have to delegate as you’re only one person and trust your team in their area of expertise. Attention to detail is also really important for me, and my brand’s development, to increase productivity so you know you’re getting a product that’s the best in the market and can be trusted in all areas of functionality, quality and style.
Huda Kattan CEO Huda beauty
Although I didn’t know that makeup could really be a career for me, I was obsessed with it from a very young age. By the time I was 14, I started doing the eyebrows of Alya, my older sister, and all of her friends. I was so fascinated with the idea that I could make someone feel more beautiful with just one small technique! My sisters and online community were definitely the biggest drivers throughout my journey as an entrepreneur. Whether it was trying out different beauty hacks on my sisters, to Mona pushing me to start my blog, to Alya financing me $6,000 to start things up, to my followers asking for my lashes – all those things were such major motivators for me!
As I started my career, I just found a lot of gaps in the market, and honestly, not a lot of people looked like me. Because I didn’t see the representation of people like me almost anywhere, this pushed me 10 times harder, and I was set to making a mark in the beauty world. With Huda Beauty, I wanted to create a safe, embracing, beautiful space that welcomed and uplifted people around the world no matter who they were, where they came from, or what they looked like. The Huda Beauty community welcomes people from all around the world and it’s incredibly super important that we empower through beauty, spread love, positivity, and acceptance, and make you feel like the best version of you!
Trust your gut! I think that your very first, deep-down instinct will most likely lead you to the right decision for you. Another important practice for me is self-love. Loving yourself is a discipline that I take very seriously in both my personal life and work life. Not only will it leave you feeling really good, but also stay creative, live comfortably and most importantly be present!
Yasmin Al Mulla
My inspiration is being able to combine my passion into a career. My ultimate goal is to always connect the beauty of my Emirati traditions with today’s mindset. Through my designs and collaborations; my aim was and will always be to connect the beauty of the brands (brands we relate to, and grew up endorsing) to the legacy of the local community – merging both cultures is a celebration by itself. Representing our beautiful country globally is the best way to pay back to this incredible society.
It is always remember that there is room for everyone – we rise by lifting others!

The chance to make a difference inspired me to become an entrepreneur. I saw the opportunity originally to change the casual dining landscape but what became evident was that I was also able to make a difference in people’s lives – those of our customers and our team members.
Focus on what you love – As an entrepreneur, you are going to have to commit an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and energy to build your business. Make sure you are doing what you love. It will give you the passion and the energy to go the distance.
Put in your 10,000 hours – The key to achieving true expertise in any skill or business is simply a matter of practice. Keep focussed and keep learning.
Don’t let a lack of funding deter you – One of the biggest challenges as an entrepreneur is finding the money you need to start and grow the business. When I approached the bank in 2005 to open tashas, they wouldn’t lend me a penny as I didn’t have a proof of concept. So, I had to be creative in how I funded the business in the early days.
Choose the right people – Surround yourself with people that share your passion, values, and vision. I am honoured to be surrounded by an extraordinary team who are passionate and completely committed to our vision as a Group. We never rest on our laurels and are committed to the never-ending pursuit of excellence.
Protect your time – Time is your most precious commodity. Make sure you spend it wisely.
The spirit of entrepreneurship was ingrained in me from a very young age, it’s in my DNA. My father was a first-generation British Asian entrepreneur in London and growing up in his shadow and seeing the rewards of a “can do” mindset, the hard work and risk-taking, grit, and determination was incredibly inspiring. Even as a little girl, I knew there was no other path than this for me.
Never give up or doubt yourself when things don’t work out the way they should, every entrepreneur will stride through challenges and hurdles of self-doubt, but it is important not to allow the fear of failure to inhibit your potential success.
You must be prepared to evolve and stay ahead of the curve. Research, reading, and continuous learning are key tools that inspire and motivate me in my business and ignite my creativity as an entrepreneur. Ensuring that I have a strong professional network around me is also incredibly powerful and valuable – the support, knowledge and potential opportunities are paramount for business growth.
It is imperative to remember that nothing incredible happens within your comfort zone and there is no room for complacency. When I feel I’m stagnant or too comfortable, I know it’s a sign I need a challenge, as uncomfortable as that be. Some of the most life-changing and exciting business opportunities have happened in unfamiliar circumstances. The reward and fulfilling sense of satisfaction of delivering an idea is an incredible buzz. Whilst an entrepreneur’s lifestyle may look glamorous from the outside, it is incredibly demanding and requires a lot of dedication, persistence and sacrifice.
Sheikha-Al-Mheiri-2
Being of value. Being able to add more value and do something that creates change or provides an opportunity without limitation.
Curiosity and consistent yearn for knowledge; consistency and commitment; and delegating my weaknesses.
Alia Al banna RollDXB
Becoming an entrepreneur was not by chance but instead an act of deep passion and knowledge. From a young age, I had an overwhelming desire to create a difference and do the best we can for ourselves, our clients and the larger audience. With RollDXB, the sole influences were inclusivity, braveness and uniqueness to ensure long-term clients and at the same time, appeal to new potential customers never forget the past; open a new chapter to create a sense of belonging in a communal setting.
Being able to connect with our customers. One thing that has been a dream of mine is to be able to build an existing emotional connection. But more than that is having a rich history of marking moments in people’s lives, the kind of memories that people will have for years and remember RollDXB as keepsakes and pass on to the next generation. With this, I remain hopeful for a successful future inspiring meaningful and positive processes and ways of working.
I first became aware of my passion for skincare when I developed acne in my late teens. I became a qualified skincare therapist and skin specialist and worked hard to understand the skin, skin disorders as well as the science behind formulations that work. I was so inspired by the impact and positive change in my life that this became an intention-led focus to develop a result-driven skincare line for professionals.
Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of resilience. I have learned over the years that we can be either result-orientated or have an intention-led approach. Always ask yourself the question: “What is my intention?” Knowing your intentions are more powerful than any results. Even when the result of an effort didn’t turn out the way I hoped for, my intentions will always take me back to my true inspirations.
 
 
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We have always wanted to start our own business in a field we’re so passionate about which happens to be fashion. Coming from an entrepreneurial family has always inspired us to take a step in turning our dreams into reality so it felt right to step into the fashion world and make our own name and identity in this market.
One of the most important steps is to learn every step of your business so that you’re familiar with the ins and outs of it. A key habit would be to keep yourself updated with the market trends whilst staying true to your identity. Finding the balance between what is trending and your identity by translating it into your own creation is what makes you unique.
 
 
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I believe my passion to express my inner creativity, translate my thoughts and ideas into something tangible is what inspired me to follow the path of entrepreneurship. It opens doors to new opportunities to grow and most importantly, it is a way to engage in the community and give to society.
One of the greatest habits is to visualize yourself when you started this journey – the enthusiasm and spark you had will push you to continue going that extra mile. Having a balance between work and personal life is also key as it will help boost creativity and energy. Most importantly, never underestimate the power of surrounding yourself with the right people who inspire, encourage and enrich you. This has an invaluable impact in shaping our thoughts and reaching our goals.
 
 
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What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Working on something I love is what inspired me to become an entrepreneur! This constantly inspires me to work harder, face challenges with a positive mindset and raise the bar for myself.
What are the most important habits to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Self-motivation and resilience are key to becoming a successful entrepreneur. This helps you keep an open mind, listen to advice and encourage you to take risks.

I was always a dreamer. And have had a lifelong itch to create something unique and bring it to life. Until I was ready. Readiness is a factor of finding that project, that vision that you must get out to the world AND personal readiness from a mindset and capability point of view to take on the challenge. I did 20 years in beauty before jumping and creating Waldencast which we dreamed as a global best-in-class beauty and wellness platform that is the home of high growth purpose-driven brands of tomorrow – out of a big identified gap in the industry – and also created whind a beauty brand like no other, anchored in our incredible beauty heritage with a modern twist.
Being a dreamer and a maker. A dream is only an idea until you make it a reality but you have to believe in it to work hard through bringing in to life. Also entrepreneurship is hard. It is not for everyone. It is all-consuming and intense but so worthy for those that are made for it. Dream. Passion. Grit. Repeat.
 
 
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I’ve always known I had a passion for jewellery design and one day, it just clicked in me that I was ready to start my own jewellery line. It was an idea that I had been brewing for many years and last year, I decided it was time to make it happen. The world of jewellery was always so intriguing and captivating to me and I knew I was meant to be in it, maybe even potentially make a name for myself in the process as well. That sheer passion and drive propelled me into following my dreams of bringing my own brand to life and the result was XOIA Fine Jewellery.
Focus and determination. In the time that I launched the business, I’ve realized that it takes absolute focus to bring your creations to life. You have to be unwavering in your focus and keep your eye on the goal you set out to achieve because you will face plenty of challenges and hurdles in the process. You have to put a plan in place, implement strategies, follow through, even if you make adjustments along the way, but stick to your path and do whatever it takes to make sure you don’t stray from the end goal and ambitions you set for yourself and your brand.
 
 
A post shared by TOi Fine Jewelry✨ (@jewelrybytoi)

Entrepreneurship is within everyone – I believe it just comes at the right moment. I launched my brand within three months, it’s just meant to be everything fell into place even if it was planned it wouldn’t have turned out the way it did.
Believe in God, believe in yourself and be consistent and do it your way because I always say, “What comes from the heart is truly felt by everyone.”
 
 
A post shared by TOi Fine Jewelry✨ (@jewelrybytoi)

 
 
A post shared by Wafa Balaswad (@wafabalaswad)

Despite having an engineering degree from the university, my passion for fashion has been the driving force behind my involvement in this world. It was a childhood ambition that grew into a passion which I fuelled after graduation to make it a job that I am excellent at. So, I was determined from the beginning to train myself to create distinctive and beautiful designs that attract attention while keeping abreast of contemporary and traditional styles. I am currently in the process of enrolling in a master’s program in Rome, which will provide me with an opportunity to explore knowledge, creativity, and innovation, as well as the latest fashion lines. It will also give me a unique perspective and a broad-minded vision of what I will be in the future.
Having an unlimited passion and great ambitions together with unwavering determination is indeed what makes any female entrepreneur successful. They have to have a strong resolve to turn their dreams into a tangible reality. I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to be a member of a nation that works hard to eliminate any barriers standing in the way of any woman’s success. If you look around here in the UAE, you will see successful women in all professions. I personally believe that breaking down inner barriers and having the guts to make brave decisions and transform a pastime into a craft are essential for success! Therefore, I always look forward, through my designs, to reflecting the bold and ambitious Emirati personality without sacrificing the traditional spirit that we value. Furthermore, I am always on the lookout for creativity, innovation and uniqueness.
 
 
A post shared by K&Co Jewellery by Karina Choudhrie (@kandcolondon)

I always knew I wanted to be a gemologist since I was 16 years old, it was my calling card. My father was my greatest source of inspiration to be an entrepreneur, he instilled in me as a child the desire to be something, be someone here in our journey in our lives, and that it doesn’t matter if we were to become a baker, a dancer, or to running our own business, but whatever path we choose we must strive to do our best and make it a success. He really guided me in my early days and encouraged me to stand on my two feet and do my best every single day. It is thanks to him I am where I am today.
Discipline. Determination. Organisation. Vision and direction to know where you want to go; being very specific in exactly where you see yourself and where you want to be. Self-belief and inner confidence – learning not to second guess yourself – your gut instinct is part of your natural immunity and it’s always right. Do what you need to do for your brand! Don’t get carried away with what trends are or what others say, they can be fleeting; stick to your brand DNA. Be kind and enjoy your team; they are your greatest asset.
Images/Media: Supplied

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