Welcome to EW’s weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.
This week we chat with the founder of Dubai-based start-up The Lumière Co, Arshia Shroff. The idea for the e-commerce site came about during lockdown in order to support local tailors to sustain an income during the pandemic. Through this, Shroff discovered a gap in the market. She’s also ensuring The Lumière Co is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly venture by steering clear of the fast-fashion model.
With a wealth of experience in business, Shroff talks us through her career, launching The Lumière Co and what it takes to launch a business in this region.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Growing up, my favourite subject was maths. I have always loved numbers and thinking in an analytical way.
Talk us through your career history.
After working in Los Angeles for a year, I moved to Dubai and later joined Endeavor UAE, a global organization that selects and supports high-impact entrepreneurs to catalyse long-term economic growth, as a Projects Associate. I still work at the same company but now as a Senior Projects Associate. The role actually helped me fuel my own passion of starting a business and has solidified my knowledge of the economic landscape in the region.
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What inspired you to launch The Lumiere Co?
I initially launched the business as a means to help local tailors sustain their income during the COVID-19 lockdown. I would design and give them orders to create personalized accessories which I would then gift to my friends and family. I received such a positive response from everyone and began to notice that there was a gap in the market as well as a sheer demand for lifestyle essentials for men and women.
I have also always been inspired by the value of launching a brand that is homegrown and that also pays attention to limiting waste and promoting sustainability. I realized it was very important to provide fashion and home items that do not have the same repercussions as the fast fashion industry.
What does it represent?
We’ve aimed to make The Lumière Co represent a person – a person that is fun, quirky and fashionable but also cares about real things such as having a personal touch, focusing on helping the environment, and supporting causes that matter.
‘Lumière’ in French means ‘light’ and The Lumière Co represents a light that illuminates dark paths. I started the brand during the COVID-19 lockdown and just wanted to create something fun that aimed to add a little light into people’s everyday lives during what was a very strange and tough time for many.
What brought you to Dubai?
I was actually born and raised in Dubai so this is home for me. I did live in the US for about 5 years before moving back here to be closer to family and also to explore the entrepreneurial opportunities here.
What are the key elements of your role?
Prior to the launch of The Lumière Co, I dedicated a lot of time to creating and curating products that I believed in and went through every part of the supply chain to ensure that it was in line with our ethos. For the few products we don’t make in-house, we worked with external suppliers so it was extremely important for me to find the right partners that were in synergy with the vision and mission of The Lumière Co.
Now that we have launched, I’m more focused on getting our message across and sharing the brand so that people can love it as much as I do! A big part of my role is also forming ties with brands and people that we believe in and connecting with customers to find out how we can improve our brand and customer experience. I am also looking at scaling the brand effectively while also maintaining our roots, values, and conscious effort.
Talk us through your daily routine.
I start off my day with a much-needed cup of coffee before settling down in my home office where I spend most of the day juggling between my full-time job at Endeavor UAE and The Lumière Co. Since I’m working at home, I also get to squeeze in some quality time with my dogs in between work which I absolutely love.
I have to say, I’m more of a night owl so I usually spend my evenings catching up with family or friends for dinner and then get right back to work before winding down for the night.
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What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
Always remind yourself of the long-term vision of where you want your business to go. A lot of things might not go your way and you will inevitably hit many roadblocks along the way, especially while preparing to launch. Instead of discouraging yourself, keep focused on the business that you believe in and the reason you started it. The day to day of starting and running a business is always unexpected and tough, so if you are not fully focused on your passion and vision, the small things will creep in and get you down!
I would also say to remember to keep boundaries. It is easy to get fully lost in your business, but it is important to set breathing spaces for your personal self. Remember to always block out some time to spend time with your family, friends, or even just yourself to recharge and switch off every now and then or else you might burn out.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Even if you fail, you will learn much more than if you never try. I’ve learnt so much in the few months of launching The Lumière Co and as much as we learn in classes and theory, there is nothing like actually taking that leap of faith and launching something of your own. And even if it doesn’t work out in the way you expected, you will learn so much that will fuel your future career and personal growth.
And what is the worst?
“Be patient and wait for the right time and opportunity.” While patience is important, it’s also important to create your own opportunities, even when they do not seem clear in front of you. The time may not ever feel fully right to start something of your own, but you have to just take the leap. There will always be a thousand reasons not to do something, but if you really believe in what you’re starting, that is the only reason that should matter.
What are your goals for 2021?
One of my main goals is to focus on growing The Lumière Co and maximizing its potential. As we are in the early days of the launch, the next few months are pivotal to the business and the brand and I want to truly make them count. I’m also working on another business venture which will have sustainability at its core and I’m hoping to launch it later this year.
On a personal note, I want to try and take some time off for my own wellbeing. The goal is to switch off work and focus on my mental health and spiritual growth which I truly believe are very important in the long run.
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