After spotting a gap in the market for a luxury e-commerce site that comes in both English and Arabic languages, Rasha left a career in investment banking to launch dia-style.com. Her vision paid off – fast-forward one year and the online haven now stocks over 40,000 ready-to-wear pieces and accessories. 

Here, the online entrepreneur reveals the secrets to her success…

Why start dia-style.com?

I’ve always loved everything to do with business. I actually started my career in finance and investment banking. My work involved analysing the value of luxury goods companies. As I saw the technology industry begin to rise, I decided to combine the two – luxury business and the net.  

What does DIA stand for?

It stems from the Arabic word ‘light’ and ‘illumination’. In Spanish it means ‘the day’, in Indian it means ‘light’ and in Latin ‘diamonds’. So for us it really represents the light in the luxury Middle Eastern market. 

What challenges did you face when setting up your company?

There are the everyday challenges and there are much bigger challenges. We get through the everyday hurdles, because everyone has them. The bigger ones are exciting and make you review the whole business until you find a resolution. 

What’s been your proudest triumph?

When you’re starting your own business even the smallest thing can be a big triumph, like getting a working phone line!

When did you realise dia-style.com had made it?

It took a year-and-a-half, but once everything was up and running I was able to take a step back and feel proud of what we’d accomplished.

How is the Arab world responding to e-retail compared to the rest of the world? Reports predict that by 2015 the online retail market in GCC countries will have grown to US$15 billion, compared to US$3.3 billion in 2010. When we launched dia-style.com we saw customers initially making small purchases before going into higher-priced items. We now have over 30 per cent return visitors to the site.

DIA-style.com is the first international shopping site translating into Arabic. Why hasn’t it been done before?

Arabic is a technically a difficult language to translate and to make web-friendly. Highly developed luxury brands and e-tailers don’t have e-commerce capabilities in Arabic yet.

What’s next for dia-style.com?

We’re looking to expand into beauty and children’s wear. We’ll also be launching a premium service to enhance the services for our customers, including personalised style advice and early access to products and exclusive offers. n