x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Money & me: Miranda Hilton chief executive of BabySouk.com

Miranda Hilton is the chief executive and 'chief mum' of BabySouk.com, the online baby store.

Miranda Hilton, the chief executive of BabySouk.com, says the Emirates is one of the best platforms for SMEs in the world. Pawan Singh / The National
Miranda Hilton, the chief executive of BabySouk.com, says the Emirates is one of the best platforms for SMEs in the world. Pawan Singh / The National

Miranda Hilton is the chief executive of BabySouk.com, the online boutique for baby, toddler and parent products. The veteran businesswoman, who was born in Kuwait and describes herself as 'chief mum' of BabySouk, says running her own companies has given her the freedom to shape the financial destiny of her family.

Describe your financial journey so far.

I have been in business for the past 10 years, primarily running a business in Australia and the Middle East in the professional services sector, and now more recently with Family Souk Ventures. Initially, when you're first starting out in a new business, it's a real challenge not having a salary as you reinvest back into the business, but there is also no better motivator and no better reward to personally create your own wealth. I've made mistakes along the way, for sure, but I don't think I could now work for someone else as an employee. I'm one of those people who needs the freedom to create my family's own destiny financially.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I have definitely instinctively been a spender in my personal life. But, since having a daughter, our priority is saving for her future and our future as a family. In business, I'm careful and strategic with how funds are invested and allocated while not compromising on creating a great customer or client experience.

What's your philosophy regarding money?

That it's necessary to give our kids the best education and foundation in life that we are able to as parents. I was raised by a single mum from the age of seven, who worked days and nights to put us through education we couldn't really afford. It's just part of my natural make up that I will always work hard to do the same for my family. I also believe that people with money and businesses should give back to the community.

What's your biggest challenge running a business in the UAE?

Honestly, having been involved in running a business in the UK and in Australia, I think the UAE is presently one of the best platforms for SMEs in the world. There is so much opportunity in the whole Middle East region for new businesses to form and grow. I think the UAE government has done a remarkable job of encouraging entrepreneurial activity. The biggest challenge is having enough depth of support behind the scenes to maximise the opportunity for growth that the region allows, which is the principal reason I decided to team up with Xebec Venture Partners.

What's next for BabySouk?

We are definitely in the most exciting phase of the business right now. We've spent the past six months planning and we will see some hugely positive changes for our customers in the next six to 12 months. We don't want to just conform to benchmarks set in this region for online businesses, but rather to substantially elevate the standard beyond what's available internationally and create an unmatched experience for parents and customers in the region.

Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?

I definitely had some financial missteps along the way - until I started working for myself and, moreover, had employees to manage. I don't think I genuinely appreciated the value of money and how hard you have to work to make it. I was also generally an emotional decision-maker, having grown up with a mum who was generous to everyone she cared about and was a giver, so I've had to learn how to get the right balance in the commercial world.

Do you believe in planning for the future?

I do. My father passed away unexpectedly a few years ago - he really didn't have much left to show for an incredibly hard-working life. I want my daughter and any future kids to have the tools and foundation to make the most of their lives and for my husband and I to not have any undue financial stress.

Is money important to you?

I view money as a means to an end. It's a means to do the things in our family's life, which we view as being important.

What is your idea of financial freedom?

Not working for someone else gives me a feeling of freedom, albeit coming with it a certain pressure of its own. I can't imagine not working. I get a great deal of fulfilment from what I do and I feel that I have so much left to accomplish. I don't think I could go back to being an employee.

What do you enjoy spending money on?

That's an easy one - right now my daughter, our home and family time and, of course, Family Souk Ventures/BabySouk.