Nahida Kaddoura, a young, up-and-coming entrepreneur, recently started up Love and Label, a brand focused on designing individual and affordable luxury handbags. After successfully completing three collections, the businesswoman, based in Abu Dhabi, talks about how she got her company off the ground.
Describe what you were doing before Love and Label.
I was working for Dubai-based fashion company Chalhoub Group as a brand manager for Paul Smith. With Chalhoub, I learnt a great deal about the fashion business, I got to meet people that were influential in the industry, and I travelled to fashion exhibitions around the world. It was fun.
What made you decide to start your own business, and how much capital and time did you need to design your bags?
I was discussing with my cousin and current business partner Farah al Asmar, almost two years ago, how there was a big gap in the market for affordable luxury for women. It began as an impulsive idea, but gradually we saw this as a great business opportunity. It took us two years and up to US$15,000 [Dh55,092] to get the company up and running, including the costs to complete our first collection.
How do you manage the business with your partner, who is based outside the UAE?
Farah, based in Jordan, creates the sketches for each collection, while I take care of the marketing and business side of things. Every season we meet, collaborate on the designs, choose the fabrics and get our bags produced. In the end, the final product is something we both want the brand to look like.
Where do you produce your bags? Were there unique challenges in starting a small business?
After looking at several factories, we partnered with a company based in Istanbul, because of the quality of their finished product. The biggest challenge was that many of these factories do large quantities, with minimum of orders of thousands per bag and per colour.
You say your bags are affordable luxury. What exactly does that mean?
Our bags, made from Italian leather, are priced between Dh1,000 and Dh3,000.
How do you view the retail market in the UAE?
The trend is towards upcoming and independent young designers. The retail market here is the strongest in the Middle East for us, especially in Dubai. We sell at a number of luxury boutique outlets in the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Australia.