Welcome to the weekly Emirates Woman 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 Hend (H) and Alia (A), Founders of Boxich, Dubai’s destination for all things clean beauty. What initially started as a space to test brands in the GCC market turned into a fully-fledged e-commerce site championing the most technological-advanced brands in the beauty industry.

Having begun their careers far removed from the beauty industry, we sat down with the Boxich founders to find out more about their venture and their plans for the future with their brand and their parent company Curated.ae.

What was your favourite subject at school?

A: In high school, I had a preference towards the ‘arts’ subjects and very much enjoyed History, Languages, Literature and art class

 

H: Mine is truly is the complete opposite of that. I loved maths class and found joy in solving equations.

What was your first job?

A: I would say I officially started my career within Banking and Finance. I was a Private Banker for several years. Having client interactions and managing their portfolios helped me understand the different industries they worked in.

H: I landed my first job with Rolls Royce after I graduated from university with a degree in engineering.

 

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What eventually brought you to Dubai?

A: Being an Emirati; I’m born and raised in Dubai. Dubai is home.

H: During my last year at university, I left Canada for an overseas transfer. I did some time in Spain and enjoyed the experience of being abroad (outside of Canada). I then felt the urge to want to experience being in the region and landed an opportunity with a multinational company that had a position open in Dubai thinking I’ll stay for two years before going back home. Almost six years later, and here I am!

What inspired you to go into the beauty space?

A: I believe it was instilled in me from a young age by my mother and older sister. Skincare and embracing your natural beauty was something that my mother had always advised on. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup till I was 16 and even then it was just some mascara, lip gloss and bronzer. So growing up going through hormones and teenage years my interest in beauty products was more about how to maintain and nourish the skin instead of concealing anything.

H: It’s always been an innate interest of mine. It may have started from my obsession with sunscreen and avoiding skin pigmentation especially when I moved here to Dubai. One thing was wanting to learn more about products, their formulations and so on. The push was surely due to the lack of what was available here at the time which sort of allowed the opportunity to rise for itself with us.

A: To put it simply, it’s a personal interest and passion for both Hend and I that found its natural course into growing a business model out of it.

What’s the story behind launching your own e-commerce brand Boxich?

A: What started as a personal passion soon became a business idea to share with others. Boxich is created to serve women of all ages, (and men too) within our region with a trusted platform that offers beauty, wellness and lifestyle brands that have been carefully sourced to bring forward a selection that caters to all needs and concerns.

There definitely was a gap in the market which allowed for an opportunity to be created. We ventured to try and fill that gap. Both Hend and I spent months monitoring brands, testing them, trying the products, sharing them with the team and our friends and family to gain feedback sort of like a mini focus group. We did that because we truly wanted to make sure that what we’re working to provide compliments the region’s varying skin tones, concerns, etc. A very important element was building relationships with the brands’ founders to better understand the brands, the story behind them, and what made them different in what they had to offer to ensure we were scouting out the best of what’s out there. Initially, Boxich was set up to be a trial for the GCC market where we tested brands and products, studying consumer feedback. To our pleasant surprise, many women were interested and wanted more. The main differentiating factor with Boxich and the brands we have onboard is indeed the fact that our brands are pioneers in the technology used. For example, Abel Odor molecularly extracts the exact required ingredient on a molecular level from plants to use in their scent formulation. Verso with their patented Retinol8* ingredient, or Taos Aer with their deodorants that have zero water used in their formulation, or even Corpus Naturals and how the entire production facility and packaging is powered and manufactured sustainably. The best part of all of it is how each brand follows its own sustainability. Aside from being clean with non-toxic or harsh chemicals, All our brands play a role in our global community to give back to the environment, socially, educationally just to name a few.

Now, Boxich is home to some of the world’s leading premium luxe beauty and wellness brands that are now made available to our region.

 

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What are the key elements of your role?

H: We are very hands-on and like to be involved in all matters related to our business. We have a wonderful team with whom we work very closely, but both Alia and I like to be a part of all aspects of our business.

Talk us through your daily routine.

A: I like to wake up early and get a workout in the morning. Otherwise, it could be tricky fitting one in later on in the day. The best days for me are when I’m able to go horse riding at the break of dawn. After that it’s breakfast, office time, tending to calls, meetings and the all the not so glamorous side of the business. In the evenings I like to spend it quietly and catch up with family and friends if time allows for it.

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

H: I would advise anyone to stay focused on the ‘why’ and follow through with that. Why do they want to get into this space? The next best thing to say is to stay focused on what you do, and do it well with the capacity to learn from others but not to spend energy on what others are doing within the space.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

A: The best advice is to always check in with yourself to remind yourself of why you made the decision to pursue whatever it is you decide to pursue. Building a start-up is not easy nor is it as glamorous as it seems to be; there’s a lot of work and time that goes into it. So I guess it would be to manage your expectations, clear your intentions and do the best you can keep in mind every day is a learning experience towards growth.

What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

H: One of the biggest challenges we had to overcome last year was trying to manage stock and inventory during the lockdown period from overseas and manoeuvring them locally. It was a challenge for sure but a great learning curve. There are daily, weekly and monthly challenges but we learn and grow from them.

What are your goals for the rest of the year?

A: We have some really exciting news to announce in the next few months through our Parent company Curated* so stay tuned for that! But also some exciting new-ness is happening with Boxich soon as well! So keep an eye out.

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