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Her Story

A journey into the unknown world of business

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A journey into the unknown world of business

Everyone loves to talk about successes in business; why shouldn’t they? You work hard to build up a business from scratch and when you begin to see the fruits of your labour, it is something to be celebrated, talked about and recognised. It gives others the motivation to toy with the idea that they too, can take that dreaded leap into the world of business and be successful. I would like to delve into the area in between – the process of starting up my (a) business and the strengths and challenges that are faced, based on personal experience.

My journey started as a British expat lawyer determined to build up experience and practice in Dubai, however one pandemic and three kids later, I was left pondering over my future of balancing a career with children.

business

At the back of my mind, I always wanted to do something different, something creative and fun, something that was unconventional. In the midst of this contemplative mindset, my mum had come to visit me in Dubai. She loves her fashion and loves her luxury bags. It occurred to me that every time she came to visit me she would pull her amazing bags out of her suitcase and I would see them neatly stacked up in their dust bags (very good, I always thought – you’re looking after them for me, when I inherit them – hopefully!) but the insides of the bags would be filled with random items like disposable bags, newspapers, books. Why does she have all of these random items in her bags?! She explained to me that her extensive travels always take a toll on her bags, they get damaged and stained from the inside. She, like me, is obsessed with keeping her belongings in a pristine condition but how else would she do this if she didn’t fill them up in order to retain their shape and keep them stain free during her travels.

I looked back at my own bags. I also love my luxury bags, I worked hard for them, for me – they are investment pieces. But the wear and tear on them were evident. I began searching for a product that would help keep my bags in shape, clean and organized (I love being organized, my husband calls it OCD – but what does he know!). However the more I searched, the more it dawned on me that there were very few products out there that were suitable for my needs.

And just like a light bulb switching on, I realised that there was a gap in the market.

We live in a country which encapsulates the meaning of the word luxury where women of all walks of life carry the most beautiful, exquisite bags as their prized possessions. But how do they care for them? Yes, you can get a dust bag to look after the exterior when travelling and yes, there are services designed to repair and return bags to their original condition. But surely, there needed to be a product in the market that was accessible to everyone at the tip of their fingers which they could utilise daily to keep the interior of their luxury bags in pristine condition?

At that moment, out of the desire to keep bags clean, in shape and organized – ‘The Luxe Insert’ was born. It dawned on me that this was my ‘something creative’, ‘something unconventional and fun’ and my ‘something different’.

Fast forward months and months of research and development, I had my trade licence in hand, a sowing machine in my garage, thousands of dirhams worth of material lined up, a website ready to be launched and about a thousand sample pieces made, each one evolving to the end product that I wanted… I was officially entering into the world of business.

The Luxe Insert is the first and only company in the UAE that specialises in bespoke organizational inserts which are designed to protect, organize and shape bags. Each insert is designed and handmade exactly in accordance to the measurements of a particular bag and in accordance to each clients’ specification in terms of colours and compartments. Our inserts are created to prolong the lifeline of a bag and is intended to aid the functionality of our pieces of little luxury. Our clients’ approach us with all different sizes and shapes of bags, they may be simply handbags, workbags or even travel bags and baby bags. As all of our items are bespoke – they are entirely custom made with our clients needs and requirements in mind. We source the most premium and light weight material so that our inserts fit seamlessly as possible to do the job that they are designed to do – organize, protect and shape!

Moving from the legal world into the business world was not an easy task. It is a daunting one, because you step into a fast-moving competitive arena. You leave the safety net of a
guaranteed pay cheque and a close knit circle of connections that you build over the years. As a small business owner, at the beginning, you’re on your own. At the back of your mind, you want to save costs so you soon learn to wear many hats balancing marketing, sales, operations, customer service and employees. For me, even being a delivery driver! Then there are other challenges which loom large; the uncertainty – will the product be successful, how long will it take to break even, when will you make profit?

When I first launched The Luxe Insert in January 2023, I had no idea how to navigate my way around social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. I soon realized that my business was one which relied heavily on these platforms. Everyone is using the platforms but how do I build a following, a community that would translate to sales? That was the hard part. I was told by so many people that viewers want to see the face behind the brand, a real person, someone they could relate to. But my ethos remained firm to the fact that I wanted the brand to be about the product. So I began curating my business social media page that reflected this. Was this the right decision? I’m still not sure, but it’s the one that I am comfortable with so I stuck with it. I built a small community and then had an amazing opportunity to showcase my products at an exhibition. The love and support I received through this was overwhelming and it catapulted my small business to an exciting new level until one day… I logged onto to my social media account and found that it had been disabled.

I hit a roadblock. A major one. Instagram had mistakenly disabled my account. My customers, my community, my content – all gone, in a split second. I appealed against the decision instantly, set up a temporary account (theluxeinsertofficial) but it wasn’t enough. The momentum that the business was gaining and the upward trajectory stopped in its tracks. At the time of writing this article, I am still in the process of trying to retrieve my social media account and it has had a detrimental impact on business but it has also, been a huge learning curve – don’t place all your eggs in one basket. Market in other ways, on other platforms by
other means

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My story is still a work in progress, but where am I up to and how do I feel?

Starting my own business was the best decision I ever made. The creative fulfilment is at the top of the list of the advantages of starting a business. It has allowed me to create something unique, fill a gap in the market and has enabled me to bring my own vision of ‘functional luxury’ to life. It has provided me with the flexibility to set my own schedule to enable me to spend time with my friends and family without worrying about the 9am-5pm (plus overtime) conventional job commitment. Most importantly, it gives me independence and control as I have the freedom to make decisions and set my own course.

My advice to those contemplating about whether to take the plunge into the world of business is to do your research thoroughly before you jump in. Understand your target audience, your price point and most importantly your competition. Is your product or service already in the market (after all this market is highly saturated in pretty much every area you can think of) and if so, does your product/ service offer the edge that would lure potential clients towards investing in your service/ product? If so, don’t think twice, jump right in – don’t be disheartened by challenges and road bumps along the way, they will make you resilient to want to be successful!

Written By:
Hannah Farooq
Owner & CEO of The Luxe Insert

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