May’s – ‘The Fragrance Issue’ – Download Now
Her Highness Sheikha Hend Al Qassemi is a true entrepreneur. Having recently entered the realm of fragrance, she knows exactly what works in the region and has infused her expertise of the Middle East with European elements to create a luxurious perfume brand, Perfumes by Hend.
What inspired you to launch your fragrance brand?
Scents have been intertwined with my life ever since I can remember. Sometimes it was my mother burning perfumed wood chips that left an everlasting effect. Those comforting scent memories would always lead me to use Oud oils, at the same time I gravitated towards French luxury perfumer brands. I always wanted to create a scent and persisted to put an active effort in doing so that merged Eastern oil quality and taste with European noses. I also wanted to create something I could spray on that would not stain my clothes, as oil-based scents stain. I wanted my perfumes to be Oud based, even though it was an expensive addition, it was important to me to ensure that the perfumes lasted since the cheap perfume sugar-rush-like feeling disappears sometimes minutes later. It has taken me three years to create this perfume alongside the packaging because it is my labour of love in creating a beautiful thing. I am proud to call it my own, and I hope women and men feel reinvigorated when they use my scents.
Can you talk us through your creative process?
Creativity is selection. Selecting what makes your heart sing, what provokes the sweet memories, what calms your mind and what refreshes and energizes you. Perfumes push the buttons of the mind and emotions. So, why not create a magnificent melody of feelings in this adventure of discovery?
To you, what makes this region stand out in terms of the fragrance industry?
This region is the luxury shopping destination of the world and luxury doesn’t know an ethnicity. This region is influenced by the Arabs and luxury lifestyle with perfumes, bags and shoes. These are not compromisable and are the first stepping stone to the journey. It is the first thing you buy in an airport when you think of a souvenir returning from Dubai, the warm, rich fragrance is the captured feeling of travelling, enjoying your life, adrenaline rush, the exoticism and the beautiful scent.
What has your journey as an entrepreneur involved?
After completing a Master’s degree in Architecture & Design followed by a Masters in Project Management, shortly after my entrepreneurship journey started with a small flower shop in Zahra hospital in Dubai. I didn’t plan for this or anticipate I was going to kick off my career with it. Although it wasn’t what I had planned for, somehow the idea of designing coupled with my love for nature and gardening led me to think of creating beautiful pieces for people in most need of the simplest form of demonstrating affection and care. I later moved on to creating a fashion line that catered to women of the region, where I put together pieces that merged designs that were both traditional and modern. From there I put my love for writing into Velvet, a luxury lifestyle magazine that came about in 2009. My most recent project is a restaurant that newly launched this March in Downtown Dubai, called Heart in a Box. I’m also a Professor at the American University of Dubai teaching a course on social innovation and entrepreneurship.
As a fragrance expert, what is your advice for someone selecting a fragrance?
A scent is a silent, unspoken language between you and the person you are with. Perfume is a deeper sense of self exploration. It is an identity. A captured dream that you wear every day reminding you and those around you to be reminded of who you are, what you are and what you want. We wear perfume to freshen up when we first wake up, to live ourselves in our daily ritual of self-love, to arouse our feelings of sexuality, of our confidence of who we are and allow us to exude the power we are brimming with. So, I would say you need to feel what speaks to you and brings you to a state of elation.
Perfumes are different from oil-based scents, but they say the best use of perfume is when you apply it on a natural fabric. However, if you wear it on your skin you should wear it on your wrist and your pulse areas, which are your neck and chest. Some people back in the day used to put perfume on a handkerchief and place it in their bag, and wipe their hands with it, so the perfume would stay on their hand and whenever they were arriving, everyone could smell the evident scent.
Can you talk us through the career hurdles you’ve experienced?
My career hurdles didn’t feel like hurdles, I chose to live my life like a river; whenever I reached a rock on the road, I either went around or over it but I acclimatize myself. I don’t believe we should survive, rather we should thrive. When you go above the wave, it means you’ve outdone yourself. I’m very proud of my perfume and I’m not ashamed of my accomplishments. A lot of people say that I have enough with whatever I’ve done. But I think God gave us this unsatiable ambition to keep going on.
What have been the key about career milestones to date?
I used to work with my family and also worked in Qatar in investments, I also did some work in Malaysia, India, and China. I think working around the world gave me wings which is why when I sit with someone from Honduras, I can communicate with them an example of work I’ve done in Kenya because I would compare the Congo hydropower with the Honduras hydropower. So, I think when you’ve been exposed to many business cultures and people nothing scares you anymore, you become more adaptable and flexible. That in itself is a gift. Ink on paper doesn’t teach you that, you have to dig the ground with your nails; it’s blood sweat and tears and not my degrees that got me where I am today.
How do aim to inspire others and where do you get your inspiration from?
We all need inspiration, motivation, and someone or people to carry us through the journey in life at some point or another. I derived my greatest inspiration from my grandmother that taught herself how to read and write when I was 10-years-old. She learned the language at a later stage in her life in order to read letters she received from orphans she adopted. That always stuck with me that you are never too old to achieve what you put your mind to, that hard work and determination crowned with the best intentions lead you to the path you want paved on your way to destiny. And I hope to carry on my grandmother’s legacy to inspire others the same way she inspired me.
This is ‘The Fragrance Issue’ – what is your signature scent?
It all depends on the mood, if I’m going for dinner, I will wear the red fragrance which is the Oud Rose. When I go to a meeting, I like to wear my blue scent because I feel powerful and confident. This scent is authoritative, it’s like an instant energy boost for me, it demands respect. If I’m relaxing, I wear my green perfume.
May’s – ‘The Fragrance Issue’ – Download Now
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