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 Hiba Jaber, founder of her namesake jewellery brand, Hiba Jaber and Almasati by Hiba Jaber. After interning and working with fashion brands in the industry, Jaber decided to take the plunge in 2017 and launched her own bespoke jewellery brand with customised rings, necklaces and bracelets designed with her customer’s special stories and memorable moments.
Emirates Woman sat down with the brand’s founder to learn about her approach to business and how travelling plays a key role in the inspiration for her pieces.
What was your favourite subject at school?
I loved Art & Design Technology in school, I was always into arts and any creative subjects.
What was your first job?
My first job was as a Junior Buyer for Juicy Couture at Majid Al Futtaim.
What brought you to Dubai?
At around the time I was graduating, I was actively applying for roles as I was keen to kickstart my career once my studies were finalised. I was already interning at Juicy Couture in London, and one day I received a call from my boss at the time regarding a job opportunity here in Dubai – I was thrilled and accepted it right away. Three weeks later, and even before my graduation ceremony, I moved to Dubai and have adored the city ever since. I have tried to move to different countries numerous times, but every single time I have found myself moving back to Dubai, it’s a beautiful place and full of incredible opportunities.
What inspired you to enter the jewellery space?
I always imagined myself having my own brand, but I did not know exactly what, nonetheless I have had a passion for jewellery and gemstones. After my dad’s passing in 2013, I wanted to wear his initials and his name, and that was the first time I designed my own piece of jewellery. A few months later I designed a ring for a friend’s birthday, and then I had a friend’s wedding and we thought it would be cool to design something for a gift. The idea of two intertwined rings with both their initials came about, people saw that and expressed interest and I found myself designing those rings for others, it was then that I thought that could be the concept for the brand that I had always dreamt of. From then I started to dive deeper into jewellery and being in the editorial industry and working closely to interview leading luxury brands were all useful. I took time off from work to study jewellery making and design in Italy and I finally launched my brand in 2017.
Talk us through the inspiration for your pieces.
The idea of the customised duo rings was inspired by a very personal story, from relationships and from life. The signature H in my logo, which is a duo ring and also our logo, was inspired by a life event that has very much affected me, the passing of my father. I wanted to put his name on my logo, as a way of gratitude for all he’s done for me, us, and everyone around him. I figured out a way to put his first initial in Arabic “ع” with the same initial in English “I” to create the H.
Generally speaking, inspiration comes from everywhere, conversations, and things we see and go through. Since our main focus is custom-made creations around the concept of two characters or more, the main inspiration comes from our customer’s stories, we turn their special stories into precious jewels, and it’s always about making the jewellery reflect their own story in the best way possible. We also do a collection per year, and for those, collections, I tend to choose a theme, research a lot around it, and then the ideas will kind of flow at one point of wandering. I love to travel and explore, and very often a lot of ideas come through when I am commuting from one place to another, and funny enough a lot of the collections I had visualised came to fruition when I was in Florence. It’s become an archive that I have and always go back to introduce a new collection. That year of travelling was full of inspiration, it was just so beautiful walking through and seeing all of the histories between the artworks of Michael Angelo in every corner of the city.
What are the key elements of your role?
I am the founder and designer of both my brands, Hiba Jaber & Almasati by Hiba Jaber. My role includes everything from running the business to managing the team, to design, to customer interaction, to anything and everything in between. We are a small team of four full-timers, and about 10 part-timers, so I am very hands-on with the work that goes on every day, with the team and the customers, it’s great.
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Talk us through your daily routine.
I wake up quite early, have my breakfast, and go to the office, my speciality coffee is an important part of the day. Each day varies; Monday starts with meeting recaps with the team to catch up on anything important that happened on the weekend and I go through the different aspects of the business with the team. I often leave Tuesdays and Thursdays for meetings and factory visits. In between, I’m always working out details with the team, talking to customers, working on their designs, sourcing new gemstones, and planning new shoots. There is no structured routine to our days that keep them exciting and interesting. When I leave, once in a while, I go for a quick workout or a swim, and then have dinner with my husband, friends, or family, depending on the day.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
I would say get as much experience as you can and don’t rush. I always interned when I was studying, and then my internships led me to my first job, and I just worked on different sides of the business until I felt I was ready to launch the business that I had the concept for three years before the launch. Take your time, learn as much as you can, absorb, and when the time is right you will know it.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Do what you can with what you have”. It was from an interview with the founder of Momo’s, back when I was an editor at Yasmina.com. It stuck with me. Whatever it is you have, whether it is the opportunities or the network or the creativity, or the resources, you do what you can with what you have and you do your best.
And what is the worst?
I can’t think of any, I feel whatever you do, whether it was a good or a bad experience, there is always something to learn or benefit from.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
I feel because I had planned for the brand so much ahead of time, and I gathered as much experience as I can, I felt the launch and progression were quite smooth, a lot of hard work of course but relatively smooth. I would say the biggest challenge was shifting from being an almost one-man show to running a team, finding the right people, learning how to delegate and manage them, and then working with them on their growth as well. It was challenging but it’s also a very nice experience to see your business and team grow.
What are the future plans for your brand?
We are imminently relocating our company HQ, to a larger sq ft. allowing for even more creative space to home our expanding team and offer a unique showroom experience to interact with customers. The company, with our great team, has made great progress over the last five years to elevate the brand, product, and customer experience in the luxury jewellery space and we plan to continue to authentically build upon these strong foundations and continue working with our dear customers on their very special stories and be part of their moments- it’s always such an honour. We will be building and expanding the offering of jewellery creations and services for both of our brands, Hiba Jaber & Almasati over the next year or so.
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Images: Instagram @hibajaber & Feature Image: Supplied