x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

An entrepreneur's make-up

The Life: Christina Karachaliou knew she wanted her own business after watching The Social Network.

Christina Karachaliou is the managing director of the Dubai-based lifestyle consultancy O' My Glamour. Lee Hoagland / The National
Christina Karachaliou is the managing director of the Dubai-based lifestyle consultancy O' My Glamour. Lee Hoagland / The National

Christina Karachaliou knew she wanted her own business after watching The Social Network. "There's a scene where Justin Timberlake's character says, 'You're going to hand them a business card saying, 'I'm CEO'.' After seeing that, I turned to my husband and said, 'That will be me someday'," says the managing director of O' My Glamour, a Dubai-based lifestyle consultancy.

Fast-forward almost three years and Ms Karachaliou has her own business and a jazzy business card to match. Her firm offers a range of services, including professional make-up, fashion styling, personal shopping and corporate services - all of which she does alone. The scope of her business is a far cry from her original profession; Ms Karachaliou's early career saw her working in the UK's mental health sector.

"I built up a lot of knowledge during this time, but it was emotionally draining. My sister passed away and I realised life is too precious to live it in a way that others want you to. I wanted to finally live as I wanted."

Following this, she moved with her husband from the UK back to her native Greece, and then finally to Dubai in 2007. During her first five years in the UAE, Ms Karachaliou worked in various corporate roles, climbing the career ladder. All the while, though, she had personal ambitions to achieve.

"At school I had a bad problem with acne and that's when I started experimenting with make-up and it really saved me. I was able to transform myself from a geek to someone who everyone wanted to be around. At this point I loved make-up and fashion but I had not considered doing it as a profession," she explains.

While Ms Karachaliou was working for a Dubai-based consumer goods company, a close friend asked her to do her wedding make-up. "I was completely shocked. She told me that she thought I was a natural at doing make-up and that I did it better than the professionals," she says. "She was marrying an Emirati and the wedding was a huge deal, so naturally I was nervous."

To ensure she was well prepared for the big day, Ms Karachaliou took a month-long professional make-up course followed by two professional styling courses at the London College of Fashion in Dubai. She was then ready to take the plunge, launching O' My Glamour in January 2012.

"I was always the person who accommodated other people, but the truth was that I had been neglecting the fact that I am a natural leader and that I was leading the life of a follower. It wasn't an ego thing, but I realised that I was capable of so much more and I didn't want to compromise myself any longer."

Eighteen months on and Ms Karachaliou, 36, has already made a number of significant achievements.

She has styled numerous editorial photo shoots as well as a big commercial project for the L'Oréal Professionnel 2013 bridal magazine, for which she worked as the exclusive wardrobe stylist.

"Working on such a massive project with a well-known brand was a lifelong aspiration, and at that point the business had only been operating for less than a year. This to me is proof that it doesn't matter how old you are - you can never put an expiry date on your dreams. It's always the right time to do it - you just have to be well prepared and really willing to work hard," Ms Karachaliou says.

Looking ahead, she says she would like to explore other avenues such as corporate services. She emphasises that while her background in mental health does help with aspects of her current role, she does not counsel people. She also says that it's very important for anyone who is creative and wanting to start a business to have a business-minded side to themselves.

"I am responsible for everything, from liaising with a client, to PR and marketing. You may have a creative side to your personality, but if you don't have the business savvy or organisational skills you will fail as a businessperson," she says.

 

business@thenational.ae