Money & Me: Abu Dhabi-born handbag entrepreneur inspired by father’s hard work
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
My father was a self-made man who came to the UAE from Beirut and worked hard over many years to build a successful business. He made sure to provide me and my family with the things he never had when he was growing up. Seeing him work and hearing him talk about his business at an early age had a big impact on me and helped me understand the importance of hard work.
How much did you get paid for your first job?
My first job was working as an assistant director for Aljadeed TV in Lebanon while I was still in college. It wasn’t a large amount, but I remember using it to invite six family members to a dinner to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. My dad was very proud and made me take a photocopy of the cheque.
Are you a spender or saver?
Before I started my business I loved spending money, especially on other people, as I’m a giver by nature. Since starting up the business I’ve had to be a little more careful. I’m a bit more selective these days.
What is your most cherished purchase?
I prefer spending on travel and experiences than on physical objects. My most recent experience was a trip to Bhutan, spending time surrounded by nature, doing meditation. It was a really heartwarming experience.
Have you ever had a month where you feared you could you not pay the bills?
There have been a few times like that earlier in my life, but I’m lucky to have a very supportive family that have helped me out. They taught me early on how to manage my expenses.
Where do you save your money?
It’s either in the bank or in my business. I’m not really interested in any other major investments at the moment, as I’m trying to keep my focus entirely on the business.
Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?
Cash or debit card. I’ve had some bad experiences with credit cards in the past.
What has been your best investment?
Starting up LaLaQueen, my business. It’s given me a 360-degree perspective on life.
What do you most regret spending money on and how much was it?
I once splashed out on a Dh4,000 pair of designer shoes. They looked nice, but they were really uncomfortable.
What financial advice would you offer your younger self?
Start saving money from an earlier age, even to put aside even a little money each month.
Do you have a plan for the future?
My main plan is to make my business a success. I’m in the process of opening a concept store. I’m going to make sure the business is up on its feet first, and then perhaps look at other opportunities after that.
If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?
I’d take my family on a round-the-world trip, buy a house next to the beach, and give some money to a charity doing community building and education work.
What would you raid your savings account for?
Always travel. I’m fascinated by travelling to different countries and learning more about ancient cultures and civilisations, their philosophies and the stories behind their cultures. It makes me a more understanding and accepting person.
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