7 Moksi Women answering my 7 questions : how they are Living and Working in Dubai.
I was so happy all these 7 women wanted to participate - even more when I could work with the lovely Rebecca Rees - who photographed all their outdoor portrait photo's. We only had 1 day (a crazy busy day!) to make it all happen, since everyone has a busy schedule. So in one day we drove around Dubai in the heat and visited them all.
People have a certain image in their heads when thinking of Dubai. Instantly only thinking of the luxurious side of living - which is here too. But there are more people simply living their normal everyday lives - being a mother, being a creative or running their business. They mix this all together - most of them doing so while creating their home away from home. To me, that's what makes them great & inspiring Moksi Women.
This last week, meet British creative entrepreneur and designer Theresa Tsui.
In this last interview, meet my friend Theresa. We met in Dubai and our mutual love for travelling, creating, different cultures, entrepreneurship and being a mother in a different country than our own - all spurred our friendship.
Switching easily from her London accent to speaking Chinese, to talking business whilst giving advise - Theresa is a woman of many talents.
Not only is she a true maker, who turned her creative side into a business, Theresa has a big heart. Her work spurred her into action, by helping the people in refugees camps in Turkey and the Kurdistan region in Iraq; Sewing for a good cause - teaching the women there (mostly young women and widows) how to sew and giving them a skill for life.
When she is not travelling with her family or sharing her knowledge of sewing with her students, you may find Theresa in the old streets of Dubai - leading an enthusiastic group of women into the hard to find specialty shops.
I'm really happy she is closing this series of inspiring women - Living and Working in Dubai.
Thanks Theresa and we will catch up soon!
** What inspired you to start your business / work in this branch?
I have always loved creativity. Growing up, I have always been creative and I can't remember a time when I wasn't sewing or creating something. I was always experimenting with paper, paint or cloth. This creative streak within me lead me to take up fashion design when I left school. At last I was in my element! Once I graduated, I was lucky enough to try my hand at marketing/PR and fashion styling before getting married and having children. I moved away from fashion into a more sedate role as a personal assistant, but one thing I never stopped doing was making/crafting/sewing.
Our move to Dubai 9 years ago gave me the opportunity to take some time out and be with my family on this amazing new adventure. I put work on the back-burner and did all the things I love doing. Through making and creating, I met so many new people who wanted to learn how to sew and make things. I knew the moment was just right for me to take the plunge and start something for myself and reMADE DXB was born. Four years later and we are still going strong.
** In your work, what is your favourite creation you have made so far?
Hmmm, this is tricky. Our main product is offering creative workshops in our sewing parlour - so we don't really 'make' items to sell at reMADE DXB as such. We help to grow peoples creative confidence. I guess you could say that we help to ‘make’ creativity!
** Working in Dubai, how would you describe it to anyone not living here?
The most important thing is to make yourself aware of the different cultures and expectations that are here. Try to understand how they work and think. Keep an open mind and be flexible. Always be ready to mobilize yourself - opportunities, business and collaborations can move very quickly here.
** Which side of running your own business / working in this branch excites you the most?
I enjoy helping people to create their projects. My favourite part, is when we welcome newbies to the beginners sewing workshop - the Sewing Machine Driving Licence - and you can sense a little nervousness as well as excitement. When they start sewing, you can literally hear the excitement bubbling inside them.
I am also super proud that a number of students have gone on to start small at-home craft businesses. They are regular sellers at the craft markets around Dubai and are gaining customers. I am always excited and proud to see students complete a workshop that they never thought they would be able to.
** As a working mother, how do you keep a good balance between work and your life at home?
I am extremely fortunate that I run my own business, which means that I am somewhat allowed to set my own hours. I can attend school meetings, be home for dinner most days and tend to the household matters. That said - I don't stop thinking about reMADE DXB even when I am 'off duty'. My children are teenagers so they have quite an extended school day, which means that I have a lot of hours in the day that I can use for work without compromising my work/life balance.
** Do you have any tips for other women who want to start their own business or work here in Dubai?
Before reMADE DXB I had so many business ideas, but the fear of the unknown (and subconsciously, failure) prevented me from moving forward or taking the leap. I have always said to others who were starting a business "what have you got to lose? At least you've given it your best shot”. But I would never take my own advice.
Maybe it was the serendipity of the whole moment. Meeting my (former) business partner, the stage of life my children were in, feng shui, planets, universe and all those must have aligned, but at last, I decided to take my own advice and make that leap. Within 3 months, there I was - a new business owner.
The moral of the story is - if you feel you have a viable business idea, start small and then scale your business when you feel the time is right. Speak to other small business owners like yourself, entrepreneurs and friends. Try and go to networking events to talk about what you're doing and to meet like-minded people. Dubai is filled with extremely supportive people. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who you feel might be able to help you, or maybe your business can help them to expand. Collaborate where possible.
And don’t be too hard on yourself. Give your business the attention it deserves in a way that is manageable for you. Develop and grow slowly - in business and personally - and take it all in.
** And last, what is the best part of living in Dubai?
Living in Dubai, we are very fortunate to be able to meet and connect with a huge variety of nationalities and I feel this is what makes Dubai beautiful. I love the carpe diem mentality that exists in Dubai.
Dubai fosters innovation and there are so many platforms to find a space for yourself. Ideas and communities can grow rapidly here.
Aside from the shiny side of Dubai, I particularly enjoy seeing charitable initiatives grow. Seeing the international community come together for a cause - feeding the labourers, collecting for various causes and supporting less fortunate communities - make living in Dubai beautiful.
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*Photo Theresa made by: Rebecca Rees for Moksi Collective.