Money & Me: Daniela Ufken, a managing partner at Precious Jewels in Dubai, describes her financial journey since she started her own business aged just 14.
Jewels and time both precious for Dubai executive
Daniela Ufken, a managing partner at Precious Jewels in Dubai, entered the jewellery industry when she was 18. She was one of the managers who started distribution for the Italian jewellery brand Pasquale Bruni. On her first visit to Dubai in 2000 for the opening of Pasquale Bruni in the UAE, Ms Ufken says it felt like entering something out of 1001 Nights. Originally from Germany, in 2006 she decided to settle in Dubai on a permanent basis.
How would you describe your financial journey?
At age 14 I started with my own company supplying babysitters on request through call centres of a taxi company in Assen, Holland. At 18 I moved to Italy, where I started to work in Pasquale Bruni. For a short time I also lived in Switzerland to set up a branch of Pasquale Bruni. I finished my career as an employee in 2004, and continued still for a couple of years on a consultancy basis for Pasquale Bruni and some other brands like Utopia, Calgaro [and] Scintilla Monaco. At the end of 2004, I opened a Dubai Multi Commodities Centre company for the distribution of watches, called Precious Times DMCC. It was after I was running the Italian company for a year that I realised that Dubai was my calling. At this stage I would say that I am quite stable in my finances. My hard experience reminds me every day to keep enough "safety money" on the side for emergencies. Now I am about to open Precious Diamonds DMCC for trading in loose diamonds and precious stones.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I used to be a saver that transformed into a moderate spender. I had a health issue in 2011 that luckily seem to be sorted now. My life changed quite a lot after this experience and I started to have a different perspective when it comes to money.
What is your philosophy regarding money?
Life is too short for all the things you want to do, improve and learn. It is all in the hands of Allah and you have limited time to make all the best out of it.
Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?
I did make quite a lot of mistakes but I always try to look at it from the other side. Even in a mistake, somewhere you can find some positive aspect. I try to forget the negatives and that helps you to recover. In 2006 I had bought a property in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, it was a resale. The construction was going well but then the crisis hit the developer of my property. The developer is still in Dubai and did not run away or go bankrupt as many others. So I am now just waiting for better times and hope the construction will start again. In 2011, I bought at an auction the jewellery and accessory brand Calgaro. However, I had to resell it because after what happened to me on the health issue I realised that I needed to start to think a bit less of business and find more time for my daughter and family.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
I do believe in planning for the future but mainly for my daughter and loved ones. For myself, I try instead to enjoy as much as I can from the moment I wake up.
Is money important to you?
Money is for sure important, it can make you more happy but only if you have the basis of faith, health and love.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
To be able to live the rest of your life in a moderate way without working.
What do you enjoy spending money on?
I like smart deals. I like to spend on jewellery, fashion, cars, food, home and leisure. Charity is also included in my spending.