x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Money&Me: Combining a passion with a worthy cause

When Sherry Bohlen and Cindy Temple launched Oh So Chic Handbags seven months ago, their aim was not only to prosper but also to support worthy causes.

When Sherry Bohlen and Cindy Temple launched their Oh So Chic Handbags business seven months ago, their aim was not only to allow their entrepreneurial spirits to flourish, but also to support causes close to their hearts. To that end, the Americans, who are both from Arizona - but didn't meet until they moved to Dubai - have their handbags made by landmine victims in Cambodia, providing them with an opportunity to work and help them all to prosper.

What are the challenges of launching a business here?

Since we've chosen the UAE as our second home, we want to honour the local business customs and processes. Learning what those customs and processes are was our first big challenge - and one we're still dealing with. Beyond that, our biggest challenges have centered on connecting with supportive mentors, networks and business circles that will lend expertise, guidance and financial support so we can develop our brand and expand quickly.

How much have you invested in your business so far?

We've invested our hearts and souls into a business that we intend will benefit everyone touched by our efforts and that will support many in thriving along with us.

Who designs your handbags?

We design our own bags and are having great fun doing it. It's actually every woman's dream - to be able to create exactly what we've always wanted in a handbag; the perfect size, colour, design and functionality. Everywhere we go, we look for new inspirations and ideas. And we talk with women everywhere about what they want and what they're not finding in handbags already on the market. We're also always on the look out for new and innovative materials from which to produce our handbags, especially materials that are environmentally sustainable

What inspired you to launch the business?

First, we wanted to satisfy our desire to allow our entrepreneurial spirits to flourish while we honoured our dedication to human rights and to the empowerment of other people in the world who might need a helping hand. Second, we wanted to create a creative and functional answer to the challenge that every woman faces: a means of organising all of our valuables and personal items in our handbags. That's where Oh So Chic Switch n' Go Organizers were conceived. Third, we wanted to create fresh and innovative handbags and accessories with unique designs, applications and materials. That dream is about to be realised with the official launch of our full initial line this fall.

Who do you support through the business?

Our handbags and accessories are created in Cambodia by skilled artisans and craftspeople, many of whom are landmine victims and survivors of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. We are proud to provide these people with an opportunity to regain their dignity and to prosper.

What's your philosophy regarding money?

Money is simply a form of energy. And like other natural forces of energy, money flows easily when allowed to follow its natural tendencies. We only experience financial scarcity when we stop the flow, either from the giving or the receiving end of the process. Money is simply a means of energy exchange in the world. Because we believe in the flow of prosperity and abundance, we know that whatever opportunity and prosperity we offer and provide to others will be returned to us many times over.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

Of course. A certain amount of planning is necessary. We diligently update our projected profit and loss statements regularly. But our planning is always tempered with a basic underlying belief that there is "plenty" and that the universe will provide as long as we maintain a balance of the natural flow of abundance.

Is money important to you?

Money is important to us only insofar as it allows us to live authentically while we support the people and causes that we hold dear.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

Financial freedom is the ability to be who you really are and to do what you really want to do in life. It's that simple. It's not about how much money you have, but about how you express yourself and live your life within the financial framework you've provided for yourself.

For more information, go to www.OhSoChicHandbags.com.