Welcome to the Emirates Woman 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 that 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 Mirela Dumitru, Founder & CEO of VELANTE Officiale. With the idea of “personal luxury” at the forefront, Dumitru founded the brand after noticing there was scope for women to start viewing their phone cases more as fashion accessories. “For that reason, I invented VELANTE Officiale as a genuine game-changer, encouraging luxury lovers to embrace the idea of having multiple phone cases they can match their outfits with,” she explains.
Available in a wide range of leathers, colours, textures and with a personalization option, VELANTE has become hugely popular since launching in 2019 and is now even available via e-commerce giant FARFETCH.
Dumitru discusses with us what the inspiration was behind VELANTE and plans for the future of the brand.
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What was your favourite subject at school?
As a student, I always loved subjects that create synapses and connections, especially exact sciences, as I took accuracy over anything else. Some of my absolute favourites were statistics, algebra and grammar.
What was your first job?
Even from the beginning of my teenage years, I wanted to acquire knowledge and I was perfectly aware that the best way I can earn this is by practice. Therefore, little by little I self-introduced myself in multiple departments of my parents’ business, choosing to spend my free time involved in different activities. I can’t say that there was a specific one that I liked the most as each and every one of them caught my attention in one way or another and pushed me beyond my limits, successfully managing to handle everything I intended to.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Finding myself in the figure of my parents who were always here and there, giving 100% to make sure all of the things are on the right track and nothing falls of, not even for a second, I was uplifted towards having a business of my own, both for the independence that comes with it and the fulfilling emotion you get when you accomplish what you aim for.
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Talk us through the concept of VELANTE Officiale.
Being both a shopaholic and an analytical person comes in handy at times. Controlling my behaviour in terms of new acquisitions in the past few years, became very “straight to the point”, settling for the timeless pieces over the seasonal ones. Thus, I started investing in the must-haves every woman needs to have in their wardrobe, noticing that one thing is missing from the whole picture – luxury phone cases, like exotic leather ones. Seeing my two daughters always changing their covers according to their outfits, I stopped looking at them as tech accessories but more as fashion assets. For that reason, I invented VELANTE Officiale as a genuine game-changer, encouraging luxury lovers to embrace the idea of having multiple phone cases they can match their outfits with. The complimentary customization service with customers’ names, initials or zodiac signs proved to be the touch of personality we are all looking for when we make a valuable purchase, either it’s a gift for us or for our dearests – since all of the products come wrapped in luxurious green-velvet packaging with a personalized bag.
Seeing an outrageous interest – both locally and internationally – for the luxury products, we created a new, out-of-the-ordinary edition, called The Vault by VELANTE Officiale that showcases extravagant crocodile and python leather bags, phone cases and accessories, true style assets everybody longs for. The so-admired VLogo now comes in three variants for 14K gold – white gold, yellow gold and white gold with 15 diamonds.
How are you hoping to make your mark in the Middle Eastern market?
The product itself makes its mark when it gets into the customer’s hands. From the lavish packaging to the unique sensorial experience you get when you touch the product for the first time, it all represents an experience that you will hardly forget. This is the result of years of research and the exigent quality protocols we have with all our collaborators, that make the product impeccable. I’m sure Middle Eastern shoppers will love VELANTE Officiale as the brand complements their opulent and authentic lifestyle.
What are the key elements of your role?
Organizing everything and always finding solutions.
Talk us through your daily routine.
I’m always up at dawn as I like to have my coffee on the terrace without being distracted by anything – most importantly, by the phone. I always leave it away for at least half an hour from the moment I wake up, for it not to interrupt my moment of silence. Right after, I love driving my daughters to school when possible as I consider it an extremely valuable time and it gives me the best start of the day I could wish for. As I like to be productive from the early hours of the day, I always check my to-do list before even arriving at the office to make sure everything is planned and order is being made.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
I think the best advice I have to give to anyone is not to give up on their dreams and always have hope. When rough times occur, because inevitably they will, for them to find the resources they need in themselves and to become aware of the fact that no one can take what is meant for them.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
To never settle for less. To know my worth, my potential and to pursue my dreams, no matter how crazy they may sound at times.
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And what is the worst?
To follow the rules and go by the book. Not only in business but in life in general, if you don’t take risks, you don’t win. You just become trapped in a cycle. Go out there and tear down all the barriers that might keep you away from your goals!
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
To keep VELANTE Officiale’s true values intact while expanding globally, a lot of potential collaborations came up with tempting proposals but what my team and I want is quality over quantity.
What are the future plans for your brand?
Pass over the heritage while constantly reinventing. As a CEO, it is crucial to constantly stay up to date with the ever-changing market demands and meet your customers’ needs. Each day means new planning, as opportunities come in and I’m one who takes them all. Starting from the international expansion that has to be done in strict terms, to the product development and marketing activities, our plan is to avoid blind spots and stay satisfied with what we are in that moment.
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