Sara Rahbari, founder of Chic Le Frique, on the intricacies of being an entrepreneur in the fast-moving world of e-commerce.

What do the first 30 minutes of your day look like, your morning routine?

I’m an early riser just like any other mum out there and mornings usually start between 5:30 to 6:00am. I prepare breakfast for the little one, slip into my Chic Le Frique (CLF) outfit of the day, get a big hug and kiss from my son whilst dropping him off at the nursery, which is the fuel for the rest of my long day and head to the office.

What inspired you to launch Chic Le Frique and how did you know it was the right time?

Not to sound cliché, but the inspiration was my passion for fashion, along with a supportive and loving spouse who persuaded me to launch Chic Le Frique. What CLF offers is simple, chic yet casual styles at affordable prices as this is something I never came across in the region. We saw an opportunity to utilize the trend through an online business model within an emerging and growing e-commerce market specifically in the UAE and across GCC.

Chic Le Frique was founded and is based in Dubai – why did this emirate become the home for your brands?

Dubai is home. It’s such a cosmopolitan city that caters to all nationalities from across the world, so there is no better place to build a brand.

You launched in 2019 prior to the impending pandemic that affected so many businesses, in what ways did you practice resilience as an entrepreneur during these times?

The unfortunate circumstances that surrounded the pandemic were distressing and businesses were striving for survival. Warehousing, logistics and product availability were heavily impacted during these challenging times. I do, however, truly believe that every challenge presents an opportunity. Consumer and purchasing behaviour changed in significant ways as well. We chose to proactively adapt our business model and offerings. CLF went all out – we expanded and strengthened key aspects of our structural setup. The resilience and reinforced efforts paid off, with CLF now being able to cater to a much larger consumer base, leveraging a more robust business framework.

Chic Le Frique prides itself on offering fashion at the right price and at the right time, how do you stay on-trend in a fast-paced industry?

We need to evolve as trends do. Beyond that, we need to set trends, rather than merely following them. We assign an exceptionally high importance to research and development. CLF currently launches almost 50 different styles on a weekly basis. The vast variety of styles on offer as well as a dynamic and agile creative and manufacturing process are what distinguishes our brand and is what helped us reach the large and remarkably loyal customer base that we are proud and excited to cater to.

Chic Le Frique has developed from offering high street labels globally into its own label, can you explain how you structured this from the outset and how it’s grown?

Having thoroughly and continuously analyzed our sales patterns, we made the decision to shift to a more streamlined and uniform offering of select trends and designs. Linen and organic cotton gauze form the base of our collections. We’ve managed to embed these quality and pricey fabrics in our manufacturing process at affordable prices by procuring raw material directly from global sources, and by manufacturing in large quantities, effectively leveraging economies of scale.

What personal philosophy do you live by that you have applied in your business?

Work hard for what you believe in, support your team and you will succeed. Staying humble is also a virtue that I assign big importance to. The brand embodies a beachy relaxed nature, how do you best relax after a stressful day of business? After putting my son to sleep, I cherish the me-time where I get to curl up on the sofa in front of the TV with a hot soothing cup of tea with my husband.

Do you have any mentors who have guided your career and what was a key lesson you learned from them?

Without a doubt my husband. He taught me to take risks where necessary and to try new ideas. He guided me through some of the key decisions at the most challenging times.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs entering the fashion industry?

This industry in particular is extremely popular and saturated with startup brands. However, this does not mean that you cannot succeed. Having a clear and thorough idea of the direction that your brand wants to take is crucial. Entrepreneurs should ask themselves, “What is my differentiator aspect and the story behind my brand?”

This is The Entrepreneur Issue – how has becoming an entrepreneur impacted you the most and what does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

Being entrepreneurial allows you to pursue your own vision. As an entrepreneur, you create something that is profoundly meaningful to you, to what you believe in, with you being the driving force behind it that gets to nurture it into something bigger, something that adds value to others’ lives. It becomes a reflection of you and your principles. My entrepreneurial efforts have taught me a lot. The learning curve, with all of the knowledge and experience I attained throughout, is undoubtedly the most impactful part of my journey.

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