Duha AlRamadhan, Founder of jewellery label Aubade, discusses the art of building a successful brand, seeing a gap in the market and taking a leap of faith.

What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine?

I always start my morning by drinking lukewarm water to kickstart my metabolism, then I shower, have three dates as a pre-workout snack, and head to my home gym. I don’t drink
coffee, so exercise is my caffeine kick and it’s what gets me going during the day.

How did you know it was the right time to launch your own brand and what made you finally take the leap of faith?

Honestly, it was all about taking the risk. I had no idea if it was the right time or if it was going to succeed, but I didn’t want to live with the regret of not trying, so I went for it. The brand was driven by my desire to fill a gap I saw in the market, and the rest was completely fuelled by faith.

Do you feel more drawn to the creative or the business side of the brand and how have you grown the team to support this?

I am 100% drawn to the creative side! I don’t have a background in jewellery, but my passion for it really brought out my creative side. I love the styling, photoshoots, buying and merchandising side of my work. When you start off as a small business, it’s really all about the founder’s vision for the brand, but I’m so grateful to have built an amazing team that’s been with me from the early days and who really know and understand the essence and DNA of the brand.

You have clients the globe over – do you see any buying patterns based on regions or countries and how has this changed since you launched?

Absolutely, and now that we have two stores operating in different countries, the difference in buying patterns is very apparent. It’s really all about the style of jewellery, some regions tend to go for timeless and classic, others love modern and edgy, while some opt for colourful andvibrant. When I first launched, I was younger and so was our client base. As the business has grown, my taste in jewellery has matured and evolved along with my clients’, so what first started off as a fun and playful curation of jewellery has now turned into a broader, more encompassing range of collections and brands to cater to a wider audience.

What have been the biggest challenges to date and how did you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges we faced as a business was the pandemic, as we had to deal with store closures. Having not had any online presence, we quickly had to adapt to the unexpected circumstance we found ourselves in and rushed to find ways to reach our clients without a physical store. We instantly upped our use of Instagram as a selling tool, while also building a website from scratch in three days. Looking back, I’m proud of how we turned a negative situation into a positive one for the business, as we shifted our approach and found new and engaging ways to reach our customers. Another big challenge was opening a store outside of Kuwait. I wasn’t prepared for the mental anguish and sleepless nights I would experience by running a store in a different country, in a market I didn’t fully understand, while managing a new team remotely. However, it just took a lot of time, patience and resilience to overcome this new chapter in the business.

Are there any styles or brands which drive sales season after season?

Ear and neck stacks have always been our leading trend, so season after season sales of earrings and necklaces continue to surpass other categories, as clients are always looking to upgrade their layers. Additionally, gold and diamond pieces are a consistent seller for us, as clients are always looking for easy, day-to-day pieces that will be a timeless staple in their jewellery box. The jewellery we sell is really all about comfort and wearability, so plain gold or diamond encrusted pieces with timeless yet modern designs have always had the most appeal.

Which piece of jewellery that you own is most special to you and why?

My Anita Ko emerald ring that I received as a birthday gift from my husband is one of the most sentimental pieces Iown. I had always dreamed of having an emerald solitaire ring, and I knew I wanted Anita to do it for me as I’ve always looked up to her as my jewellery mentor. When I approached her, she walked us through the bespoke process and taught me a lot of what I know about emeralds today! After showing me some emerald stone options, my husband handpicked his favourite, and the ring came to life a few weeks later.

What tips would you give anyone wanting to invest in a piece of fine jewellery?

It’s ok to experiment and have fun with the more playful, seasonal styles to enjoy in the moment, but it’s the timeless pieces that will be with you for life and can be passed on to generations to come.

When looking for an investment piece, always ask yourself – do I see myself wearing it five years from now?

If the answer is yes, then you’ll know it’s the right piece for you.

What do you look for in a new brand?

Nothing excites me more than discovering a new brand, I genuinely get an adrenaline rush! The first thing I look for is uniqueness. The jewellery market is really saturated, and a lot of the collections look really similar, but when a brand offers something new and different, it’s really exciting. I also look for quality and finishing; no matter how beautiful or unique a piece is, if the finishing isn’t great, the piece instantly loses its appeal.

How do you scale without compromising on quality?

This is a tough one as we’ve obviously scaled and have encountered our own set of growing pains, but I really believe that if the founder is still involved to some extent in the day-to-day aspects and builds a team that believes in the brand and is able to connect with the founder and shares the same vision, then quality can still be maintained.

What advice would you give to your younger self starting out?

The road ahead isn’t easy, there will be moments that will break you, there will be days you want to give up and just quit the business you’ve started. But you will always come out of it stronger and more resilient than before.

This is The Trailblazers Issue – what does it mean to you to be a trailblazer?

To me, a trailblazer is someone who breaks the mold, who doesn’t follow the pack and disrupts the industry standard, bringing something different and unique to the table.

September – The Trailblazers Issue with Amira Sajwani – Download Now

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