x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Fashion passion cash-in for Lebanese Web entrepreneur

Money & Me: Rasha Khouri felt the Middle East was ripe for luxury fashion e-commerce when she started Dia-style.com. She describes her life as an entrepreneur and financial journey so far.

Rasha Khouri believes in planning for the future. Courtesy Dia Style
Rasha Khouri believes in planning for the future. Courtesy Dia Style

Last year Rasha Khouri, 36, felt the Middle East was ripe for luxury fashion e-commerce and started Dia-style.com. Based in London, Ms Khouri first ventured online with Dia-boutique.com almost two years ago for a global audience. She saw a marked increase in orders from the Middle East, and the idea for Dia-style.com was born. A native of Lebanon, Ms Khouri says she is passionate about developing an online fashion community for the Middle East.

How do you try to build up a fashion community through your online retail site?

We have fashion entertainment in the Play section of the site, which encourages style experimentation, and host a forum in the Talk section where fashionistas can swap style tips and our stylist can also help with any fashion questions.

How would you describe your financial journey so far?

I began by working in investment banking in New York and London. When you are starting off as an entrepreneur you need to live on a tight budget, which gave me the opportunity to understand the value of money. In addition, it has honed my skills of keeping expenses down within the business, too.

Why Dia?

The word Dia comes from the Greek root of the word for wholeness, in Arabic Dia describes a shimmer; in Hindi, a dazzling personality; in Spanish it means the day.

Are you a spender or a saver? Why?

I am a saver but a prudent spender, I am not afraid to spend on the right things. In business I am prepared to make an outlay that I feel confident will bring returns. On the personal side, I will spend the money making an investment on a fashion item or quality piece. I know what my style is, so don't make rash purchases.

What is your philosophy regarding money?

A quote from Jonathan Swift sums it up. "A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart."

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

When I started up my first venture in 2010, after six months I felt like I was spending too much money on rent in an expensive location. We moved our offices to a less high-profile location as a result and have been able to conduct business to exactly the same standard while being able to spend the money saved in other areas of the business.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

Yes, I am a big believer in planning for the future. You have to anticipate and evaluate what will be coming up short-term and long-term in business as well as life. If you don't have a goal of where you want to be in 5, 10, 20 years time you will not be making the right choices in the present.

Is money important to you? Why?

While money is not everything, it is a critical tool that presents options and opportunities.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

My idea of financial freedom is being able to make my own choices professionally and continue my journey as an entrepreneur shaping my own business.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

I do not spend a great deal on myself. Another of my great passions is music so I go to a few concerts a month and then my other main personal expenditure goes on restaurants when I go out for dinner with friends.

ssahoo@thenational.ae