Rana Dabbous embodies the passion and drive of a successful businesswoman. Living between London and Dubai she is a trendsetting designer and the founder of Candy and Lola – her very own line of luxury handmade accessories.
Rana designs and hand-crafts each Candy & Lola order, employs 4 women in her atelier in Dubai and supports 3 divorced women in Lahore, Pakistan.
To find out more about Rana read on below and for more details about Candy and Lola, visit their Instagram page.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED.
I’m Rana Dabbous. I was born in Beirut and now split my time between London and Dubai. I have one son and one daughter. I am the founder of Candy and Lola, an accessory brand whose products are all beautiful, sustainable and functional. The name came from my kids, my son likes Candy way too much, and Lola is my daughter’s nickname.
Candy & Lola isn’t just an accessory brand though, we seek to support women around the world and give them an opportunity of using their skills to earn money and support themselves. I only employ females. It truly is a brand by women, for women.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?
Everyone wishes they could be more productive in their everyday life and I’m no exception! My secret to being more productive is stopping the madness and slowly implementing positive things one by one. Basically, I just try to slow down! As the founder of this brand (Candy & Lola), I spend my energy doing positive things so that my whole day is well spent!
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.
My business started when I was looking for a new beach bag. I wanted something functional but also beautiful. I couldn’t find anything nice so I decided to customize my own straw bag. My friends all complimented me, and when I started getting compliments from strangers too, I realised I was onto something!
I design and hand-craft every single Candy & Lola order with my team. I have 4 women employees in Dubai and I also support 3 divorced women in Lahore, Pakistan. They are responsible for doing the crochet which we use as decor on the bags.
There is no inventory as each bag is made to order and must pass a stringent quality test. Candy & Lola bags are made from only the best quality, sustainable materials in the world. In our production, there is no plastic or any man-made materials used. I really hope that women will love my products as much as I do and so that I can support more women as well by purchasing my products.
Despite my meticulous attention to detail and incredibly high standards for quality testing, my bags are super affordable. I want my bags to be accessible for all, so are very reasonably priced, whilst still enabling me to support the wonderful women that work for Candy & Lola.
The process of launching my business was just a typical one. As usual, I go beyond the business plan, testing my ideas, knowing the market, target customers, establish cash resources, and of course choosing my right business structure.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR BUSINESS?
If you’re going to dedicate yourself to starting and nurturing a business to success, it’s going to be nearly impossible to simultaneously manage another career. You might be able to manage the infancy of your business on the side, during weeknights and weekends, but if you want a chance of growing significantly, invariably you’ll have to quit your day job.
As an entrepreneur, my biggest achievement is knowing that I’m helping my team, by giving them the opportunity to support themselves, it would easier to cut corners and save costs but I’m not interested in doing that. I also love seeing customers wear my designs!
WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?
In business, growth is fundamental to survive. I started by learning from the most successful companies. Identifying their strategies, testing them in my niche, and seeing what would work best for my business. I spend a lot of time continuously learning. But I focus on customer satisfaction above all else. You can’t learn that, you either care or you don’t, but happy customers are the most important thing in any business.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?
I hope that someday, more women will love my designs as much as I do. I want to expand my range. We’re working on a charity collaboration and a London Edit right now! Also, I want to expand my business in other countries and hire more women to work for Candy & Lola!
RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS
ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES OR TOOLS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OTHERS THAT HAVE HELPED YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS?
Not resources exactly, but a tip I guess…. is to make sure that everything you do is sustainable. We only use natural, sustainable materials in our products. They are efficient, eco-friendly and make our product more unique and affordable. As entrepreneurs, it’s our responsibility to ensure the products we create and develop are sustainable. We only have one planet, so we need to make sure we look after it!
WHAT OR WHO HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST INFLUENCE IN BUSINESS AND WHY?
My greatest influence has been my interest in sustainability and being able to incorporate that into the fashion world. It’s just so important, I cannot say that enough!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Starting a company isn’t easy, it’s important to remember it’s not going to be a walk in the park. Be decisive in making decisions. Be specific on choosing your target clients. Always set concrete goals and focus on the areas in which your company creates value and make your customers happy!
WHAT BUSINESS IDEA DO YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE WITH OTHERS?
I would love to create new products that will be made from sustainable materials with fancy designs. I have a dream of getting women from different places around the world and making special editions from all these amazing places!
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Always do what you love the most, work hard, play hard and look after our planet!
Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!
If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.
By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.
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