Welcome to EW‘s 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 Zeynab El Helw, a UAE-based content creator and founder of Reborn, an eco-positive brand focussing on comfortable loungewear. As well as being eco-conscious, Reborn is a socially conscious brand having partnered with UNHCR to support refugees worldwide.
With a wealth of experience and knowledge in the fashion industry, Emirates Woman sat down with Zeynab to find out more about Reborn, as well as her busy routine being a mum, CEO and influencer.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Art, music, PE and English literature were my core favourite subjects, until now actually. Anything that involved a bit of creativity, imagination and sports I was there splitting my time between so many extracurricular hobbies. In my quiet time, I loved to write songs and read. Moreover, I was very passionate about music and by the time I was a teen I had completed my grades in classical music; flute, piano and singing while simultaneously being captain of the netball and hockey team. One minute I was composing music and playing in the orchestra and the next minute I was running long distance.
What was your first job?
My first job was working at Dior in the marketing department, which I would consider my first real experience. I was in charge of the Mena and Turkey region. It was so exciting and really was a dream job as I obtained my BA in fashion theatre at Central Saint Martins and at the time, Galliano was the art director therefore I felt privileged to go to the same art school. So, as you can imagine when I landed the job I was over the moon.
What inspired you to go into the fashion industry?
Ever since a young age, I was very involved in creatives, art and experimentations. I used to love cutting up and creating my own clothes, playing around with designs and even styling my friends at school. I quickly developed a sense of love for fashion as it was truly a form of expression for me. In addition, when I attended art school this was the true turning point as everyone embraced their own sense of style which enabled me to feel more confident to dress however I wanted.
Can you talk us through the inspiration behind your brand Reborn?
I was working on the development of the brand for over a few years now but it really took shape quickly in the new year of 2019 where it was a fresh start as so much was happening on a personal and global level. I found out I was pregnant again hence the name Reborn, while with all the world changes that quite quickly evolved, the ideas of the brand quite rapidly modified to be more of a loungewear brand that would be comfortable and cool enough to be worn in your own style. Whether it being home hosting guests or when people would be out and about. I wanted to create a positive ‘feel and look good’ relaxed brand that people could relate to and feel comfortable and confident in. I didn’t want to follow the structured rules. I wanted meaning and feeling in this brand and to tell my story through fabrics and quotes; subtle highlights in the collection and make the items ‘go-to’ staple pieces in your wardrobe. I wanted the clothing to transition and overlap into different seasons and timings of the day. Creating a sustainable long term brand for everyone was the true exciting path I wanted to take. We teamed up with UNHCR to give back to refugees and truly spread awareness and positivity.
You’re also involved in a lot of other projects. Can you talk us through this?
Yes, I can truly say I’m grateful to have a busy schedule. It’s been back-to-back which I quite honestly crave. I work a lot on long term projects with luxury brands and also lifestyle so already very excited to see what’s in store this season. I’ve jumped quickly back into work probably didn’t time a minute off as I really feel what I do is a part of me. I’ll be flying to Paris during fashion week which will be my first work trip in a long time too, that will be fun.
What are the key elements of your role?
The keys pillars of my role involve managing the brand Reborn, my social media page and being a full-time mother that balances work between the key elements of my career. Now with our new addition to the family, baby Angelina who is only 7 weeks I feel like my work is cut out for me but as long as I keep a system in place I’m managing to handle it to the best of my ability. Transitioning to two kids needs a lot of planning, while managing the household and of course the clothing line.
Talk us through your daily routine.
Normally I wake up first thing with Luca as my alarm clock and now with Angelina, my newborn she’s also keeping memo my toes through the night so we have an early wake-up call. Less sleep that’s for sure but hopefully, it will balance. So, yes in the morning first things first is jumping straight to pumping so I know there’s enough milk in the fridge for the tiny one to let me go about my day knowing she will be fully satisfied. Normally my day involves a mix of meetings, events, shoots or on occasions all three. While at the same time replying to emails and focusing on working on the new collection of the brand. I try to be as productive as can be but if I don’t finish my work I use the quiet evening times to complete tasks, always getting through the list I set myself in the morning. I would love it if there was a few more days in the week as I do feel there’s a lot to get through.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?
I’m absolutely loving what I do. I would advise that it’s really a full time round the clock type of job where dedication to working on a brand and social media involves pure commitment. Moreover, with social yes there’s a lot of spotlight on you so you must take criticism with a pinch of salt and build a layer of thick skin. For me, I take every comment and thought as constructive which pushes me to do and be better. I was told I would never succeed but I didn’t listen and I left my corporate job to follow my dreams. Here I am today, if I listened to those people, I wouldn’t have had a chance to build my empire.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
To just focus on you and not get caught up in distractions. No one is you. And that’s your strength. It doesn’t sound cheesy but it really helps me go about my day and understand the bigger picture and reach my goals.
And what is the worst?
To sit back and wait for things to come your way. That for me is considered lazy. I believe the only way to get long term results is by working hard. It doesn’t necessarily have to be long hours but just concentrated efforts. This will allot guarantee your success to reach your ambitions and goals.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?
The biggest challenge for me was transitioning from a corporate job to social media as we didn’t really understand the power of it at the time. It was such a difficult step for me as I was finding it hard to even explain what I wanted to others. I started off with a blog and an e-commerce platform which gradually modified to a social media page I started monetising from and from then I networked and grew. I still will always look back and appreciate where I am today. It wasn’t easy to follow my gut but was lucky to have my family as a support system mentally.
What are your goals for 2021?
2021 I would really want to get the reborn society brand into retail and have it more prominent in the region with a few more surprises with the brand which I’m unable to reveal now but we will definitely be branching out. There’s a lot of plans with the brand which I truly can’t wait to share.
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