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’re giving the spotlight to Karen Saab, Founder of AURA Sunwear. The licensed aesthetician set out on a mission to resolve her own and her patient’s struggles and skincare concerns leading her to designing the revolutionary medically-backed UV Shields, especially post-laser and cosmetic treatments. Here, Karen discusses her brand-building journey in entering the skincare space as an entrepreneur with a single innovative SKU.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Physics, I’ve always loved knowing why and how things work, and this curiosity is one of the reasons for my success as an adult.

What was your first job?

I worked at my father’s plastic surgery clinic where I became interested in skincare and aesthetics.

What eventually brought you to Dubai?

I moved to Dubai with my parents when I was very young because they wanted us to be closer to the Middle East.

What inspired you to enter the skincare industry?

For as long as I can remember, I suffered from chronic cystic acne. It was not so bad but enough for me to feel uncomfortable in my skin and constantly need to cover it up with makeup. I spent a lot of time seeing different Dermatologists where I was constantly prescribed pills and antibiotics and told that it was incurable without medication. But all these quick fixes provided was temporary fix, only to relapse shortly after, once the effect faded. The thought of clear skin seemed impossible until one day I decided to take matters into my own hands. I studied to become a Licensed Aesthetician where I discovered the holistic approach to skin health which has helped me heal my own skin and the many patients I treated over the course of my career, without the use of unnecessary medication.


Karen Saab, Founder of AURA Sunwear


Talk us through the concept of AURA Sunwear.

After 12 years in the beauty industry, I decided to launch AURA Sunwear. With my love for sports and my active outdoor lifestyle, I constantly found myself trying to balance between enjoying my hobbies and practicing what I preach about sun protection.

As the sun is the number 1 cause of ageing and skin/eye damage, I struggled to find accessories in the market for myself and my patients that offer daily UV protection, especially post-skin and cosmetic procedures. The existing products often lacked quality, efficacy, and most importantly style.

The first launch of the brand is the AURA UV Shields, designed in four unique styles and colours to suit all lifestyles and ages. They offer chemical-free, 99% protection from UVA and UVB rays for the face and eyes.

What are the key elements of your role?

As the founder of AURA Sunwear, I wear many hats, the most important one is leading the production team’s quality control. Every UV shield is tested to ensure superior medical-grade UV protection. Another big role I play is product development and research. I’m constantly collecting feedback from clients on how to improve our existing products, but also designing new product launches and finding manufacturers who can make my dreams into a reality, supplying us with superior materials to increase our portfolio of trendy, medically-backed UV-protecting products. As a licensed aesthetician, I am also the face of the brand, where I spend a lot of time educating on various platforms about the importance of skincare and sun protection.

Talk us through your daily routine.

My daily routine involves a combination of creative and strategic activities. I start my day by staying up-to-date with new research published around the topics of skincare, Dermatology, Plastic Surgery, Cosmetic Chemistry, and General Health Care. I spend a couple of hours on social media to identify market trends to keep our brand relevant and appealing to all ages and lifestyles.

As an SME-entrepreneur, most of my day is spent collaborating with my team, making sure our marketing and operations are going smoothly, making strategic decisions for brand growth, and setting long and short-term plans for its success.

“Surround yourself with knowledgeable professionals in your industry and build a network of mentors who can guide and support you.”

What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?

My advice for anyone looking to pursue a similar path is first to make sure you enjoy the journey as much as the destination to avoid ending up in an industry for the wrong reasons. Do an unpaid internship, ask questions, and try to shadow someone for a few days, to experience the good days and the bad. Secondly, find a gap in the market that you can fulfill better than anyone else. The competition is fierce, so you need to be able to stand out and constantly keep learning. Lastly, who you know, can make or break your brand, surround yourself with knowledgeable professionals in your industry, and build a network of mentors who can guide and support you. Most importantly, give time for your mental health. Entrepreneurship is a long road and if you don’t save time for your well-being, you will get burned out before even getting to the fun part.

“Entrepreneurship is a long road and if you don’t save time for your well-being, you will get burned out before even getting to the fun part.”

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Don’t be afraid of failure. As a perfectionist, the idea of failing was always so scary to me. And the best advice I got that takes me out of my analysis paralysis is the idea that every failure is a step closer to success. Without my failures, I wouldn’t be proudly where I am today.

And what is the worst?

The worst advice I received was to prioritise quantity over quality. However from a business perspective, it’s important to be efficient and meet customer demand. The lack of trustworthy sun-protective products in the market, is one of the reasons why I launched AURA Sunwear So providing exceptional, high-quality products will always be our top priority.

What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome is the fact that although my products are designed to suit everyone, there is a lot of education that is required to make people realise the importance of UV protection. Since the harmful effects of chronic sun exposure begin to show gradually (usually many years after the majority of a person’s sun exposure), premature aging is often regarded as unavoidable and a normal part of growing older. So a lot of time and effort has been and continues to be invested to make people realise that they all need AURA Sunwear products sooner rather than later.

What are your future goals and plans for your brand and your career?

My future goals involve further growing AURA Sunwear and its products to become the leading brand of wearable sun protection for people of all ages and lifestyles. I aim to continuously innovate and introduce new products that cater to evolving customer needs in the world of skincare.

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Images: Supplied by AURA Sunwear