The brave ones: Dubai brands that launched during the pandemic
Lauding the homegrown businesses that took the leap of faith
The theme of practically all our lives this year is how Covid-19 threw a wrench into our plans. But there are also those who were determined that no pandemic was going to stand in the way of their goals or dreams.
Here’s lauding some of the small businesses that took the leap of faith.
Organic clothing brand TheMadeonEarth began because Shweta Bora wanted to ‘make organic affordable’. Two years ago, before her son Arjun was born, she’d decided to go the organic route — but was surprised at how expensive day-to-day wear and essentials were. “The lockdown gave me enough time to go all out and make this dream a reality,” says the mompreneur, who started TMOE in April this year. “The brand, like many wonderful babies, was born during the pandemic. And my son is my biggest inspiration.”
The former marketing professional is a big believer in small businesses as the backbone of every country’s economy. “There are many homegrown businesses who create value-driven products that are eco-friendly and safe to use. We have started buying everything from local businesses ever since the lockdown.”
The TMOE product line includes baby and kids’ essentials, as well as organic cotton fabrics like rompers, swaddles, playsuits and more. While the palette used is a mostly gender-neutral one, Shweta assures there’s a lot of variety for parents to choose from. “We don’t do fashion,” she explains. “We create comfortable clothes for little wonders. After all, what are clothes until someone lives in them?”
2. Hautebox Boutique
We’re trying to count all the reasons we love this one. There’s the fact that it launched at a very challenging time in February this year, of course. But apart from that, Hautebox Boutique is all about breaking stereotypes and representing women realistically. Dubai-born fashion designer Andrea Sequeira calls her first collection, launched six months later in July, her “monologue about women”. And this much is evident for all to see.
The collection features 15 unique pieces that espouse femininity and elegance, and every piece can be altered to fit the customer as they please. “I wanted to design pieces that every woman can feel comfortable in,” she says. “We would like our brand to represent true beauty and our product to complement our customers’ identity. We represent the small homegrown brand that aims to create and curate products that have more value than just the price tag.”
True to the brand’s vision, the silhouette of every piece designed is a celebration of women’s different body shapes and figures, and a testament to the UAE’s multicultural society.
3. Secret Skin
Clean beauty has been hogging the headlines in the beauty world for a while now — and yet, the term is open to interpretation. Due to high demand for formulations that are free from harmful substances, big beauty brands are now listening up and making the switch to non-toxic products. Still, a gap exists for brands that truly meet the bar set.
Tech start-up Secret Skin was founded by Anisha Oberoi this year as a discovery platform to connect mindful consumers to conscious beauty brands around the world. The Sharjah-based business affirms it is all about “people, planet and purpose” — and has a very personal story at the heart of its formation.
“I knew very little about the clean skincare industry when I was battling breast carcinoma in 2010,” says Anisha. “There were hardly any natural/organic toxin-free products available in the market that I could use. Given the toxicity of the medication I was being administered, I experienced drastic changes in my appearance. I was unable to use conventional beauty products that contained harmful ingredients as camouflage, causing me to experience severe self-esteem issues. It was this desperation that inspired me to do something value-driven and entrepreneurial around beauty and wellness so that I could make a difference to the lives of women who face the same issues, by building a brand they could trust.”
Currently, Secret Skin caters to consumers in the UAE and India, with plans to expand operations to the rest of the GCC region by 2021.