It does not matter what influences we have been subjected to. It’s our unique approach to life and its challenges that really defines who we are.
Creativity is a quality that we most often associate with the arts and artistic endeavours rather than anything else. It is only in recent times that creativity has been acknowledged in the sphere of business. Yet, most entrepreneurs will vouch for the fact that it was the thrill of creating something new and the joy of achieving it which keeps them going.
We spoke to three young businesswomen in Bahrain to examine how they apply creativity in driving their business forward.
Manar Al Rayes believes in examining everything that’s happening in her field of interest before she can develop her own perspective of things. The 24-year-old brand manager of fashion accessories at Sharif Group handles such brands as Armani, Misaki, Crislu, Rochas, Pierre Cardin and Espirit on her own. Her brief involves travelling to international exhibitions where she orders jewellery, followed by stocking, pricing as well as marketing the collections for four A La Mode showrooms across the entire country.
While there is no dearth of advice from the women in the family, especially her mother, Manar is always eager for client feedback and forever trying to learn about the changing tastes. She has now learnt to trust her “gut feeling” developed over the last two years, in bringing specific designs to Bahrain.
Manar is now readying for the launch of the Cavalli line of jewellery on the occasion of Valentine’s Day. She’s trained her eyes on her newly opened store at Enma Mall in Riffa, where the top end accessory lines have been flying off the shelves.
An enthusiastic ambassador of her brands, she habitually sports pieces from her latest collection, something that never fails to catch the eye of friends and acquaintances. Taking her brand promotions viral, Manar has an Instagram page, where she routinely uploads the latest jewellery lines. This business and finance graduate from the University of Bangor, Wales, is happy to divide her time between her twin passions — handling delicate jewellery by day and hard core martial arts by evening.
“Through the practice of Taekwondo, I’ve developed a lot of confidence and discipline, essential attributes in my line of work. Of course, it is a great stress buster and helps me release all the negative energy,” says this petite black belt holder from Albanna Taekwondo Center. Manar uses platforms such as Jewellery Arabia for direct interaction with her clients and suppliers.
Invoking a Higher Self
Her high stress corporate job was leaving her drained, when a healing course with a reiki master suddenly opened up Weam Zabar’s horizons. As she started reiki healing for others, she discovered a world where she could relax while being on a daily job. Weam launched Namaste Bahrain, which she calls her ‘one-stop shop for holistic healing and self discovery’ in April 2011.
“There are plenty of places offering physical relaxation in Bahrain. With Namaste, the idea was to create a sanctuary, a hideaway that one can leave feeling more centred and connected with oneself,” she says.
Catering to the body as well as the mind, the centre offers a wide array of services with classes and workshops in yoga, reiki, art therapy, reflexology, pilates, hypnotherapy and gastric mind band therapy.
Weam is bubbling with ideas for activities every month, devising a mix of workshops and retreats that appeal to various age groups.
She’s flying in a yoga teacher from India for a workshop, while a meditation retreat slated for February in Sri Lanka has already been sold out. For Weam, meditation has been her key to creativity, the door between her inner and outer worlds.
“All the great artists, writers and sculptors would attest that creativity flows not when they are thinking from their lower mind, but from their higher self,” she says.
“As an entrepreneur, I learnt that I needed to change my orientation and mental habits before I could change the world around me. The outer world is a reflection of the inner one and I need to spend more time working on myself before I try to change things externally,” she adds. Weam now plans to affiliate her centre with the Yoga Alliance to turn it into a Yoga School where teachers can undertake certified yoga training.
A self-confessed day dreamer, Zainab Al Alawi practises the art of tapping into a rich mental imagery when she’s looking for ideas. The 23-year-old fashion buyer and brand manager of the multi-brand boutique. Sacoche, derives her inspiration from music, art and travel.
Also managing the Italian fashion label Balenciaga, Zainab has a job that most girls her age would envy. She keeps up with the latest fashion trends and upcoming designers by constantly travelling to fashion shows in Milan, Paris and London.
“We showcase a hand-picked selection of creations from the leading designers, sourced directly from the runways of the fashin capitals of the world,” she says.
Back in Bahrain, she visualises the display at her stores and advises clients on style and the latest trends. Two years into the job, her initial euphoria has now subsided and her perspective tinged with experience.
“I realise that I cannot bring in whatever I like. I need to take into account the multicultural base of Bahrain, as well as the regional tastes and preferences,” she adds.
However, the buying pattern has definitely changed since she joined the company. While Sacoche Boutique continues its association with high-end labels Zagliani, Nancy Gonzalez and Lana Marks, Zainab has opted to bring in the more affordable, but stylish and sophisticated labels such as M Missoni, Red Valentino and Issa London.
She has launched her own website and announces the latest trends, colours and new collections through her page on Instagram and Twitter. Zainab studied fashion design at the Royal University for Women but concedes that her fashion inspiration remains her mother, Sausan.