x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

When Ingrid D'Lima's life changed, she began changing others' lives too

The Life: Ingrid D'Lima offers styling, personal shopping and colour consultant services - far removed from her previous role at Standard Chartered.

Ingrid D'Lima founded Simply Be to offer styling, personal shopping and colour consultantcy services. Lee Hoagland / The National
Ingrid D'Lima founded Simply Be to offer styling, personal shopping and colour consultantcy services. Lee Hoagland / The National

Ingrid D'Lima's father always told her: "Never be afraid of being different".

His advice paid off when she turned her back on a successful corporate career to launch her own image coaching and personal styling company Simply Be!

Ms D'Lima now offers styling, personal shopping and colour consultancy services - a far cry from her previous role as a senior talent acquisition manager at Standard Chartered.

Having always had a keen eye for style and a passion for helping others, she decided to merge the two after a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) course changed the course of her life.

"NLP helps you focus on what you want rather than what you don't want," she says. "During the course I realised I wanted a career through which I could help people. NLP forces you to set goals, so I decided that by March 2013 I'd be some kind of coach. I did a styling course and then started offering my personal styling services to clients at the weekend."

Through word of mouth, the 35-year-old quickly built up a client base, giving her the courage to leave StanChart after six years.

"I loved my job, but I realised I needed to do something with my passion for helping people and styling," says Ms D'Lima, who has lived in the UAE for 12 years. "I was always telling my clients to follow their dreams and passions, so I woke up and decided it was time for me to follow mine."

She admits it was a big leap, with many colleagues and friends advising against the move. "The first thing people asked was what I would do about money. They also couldn't understand why I would give up a job that I was doing so well in," she says.

The fledgling entrepreneur ignored the doubters, going ahead with the plan in March this year with an initial investment of Dh50,000 - something she feels demonstrates her lifelong love for a new challenge.

Having started her career with British Airways as a trainer at 18, Ms D'Lima says she made up for her youthful looks by always working hard and keeping up to speed with market trends.

"I never said no," she says. "If someone asked me to do a project I'd always say yes and never cared about how much I had to push myself or how late I'd have to work. I've also always been quite happy to try something new. It doesn't matter if it works out or not."

And it paid off; during a career spanning almost two decades, Mumbai-born Ms D'Lima was continuously promoted in every role she took on.

During her time with StanChart, she was assigned the difficult job of recruiting traders for the bank's then-new trading floor in DIFC.

"I enjoyed the challenge of it. Bankers are difficult people, but they're great to work for. And the more senior they are, the more they push you to think harder, because you cannot walk into a meeting not knowing what you're talking about. You have to be fully prepared and 100 per cent confident," says Ms D'Lima.

Looking ahead, the businesswoman says she is not motivated by monetary returns and that her goal is to have many happy clients whose lives have been made better through her help.

"I know I've found my calling. I could have stayed at the bank and built a really solid career. I'd be happy, but right now I'm satisfied and I feel that I've found what I was meant to do.

I firmly believe that you have to make this life count, do what you have to do, and money will follow," she says, adding that the greatest joy comes from seeing her clients' lives transformed.

One woman came to her because she had gained weight, her confidence had plummeted and she avoided seeing friends or socialising. Following a style consultation with Ms D'Lima, she began exercising, wearing make-up and making an effort with her clothes.

"The other day she mentioned to me that her husband was meeting some of his friends, whom she would ordinarily avoid. This time, however, she was confident because she was wearing 'one of her colours,' so she went along and said hello.

"This for me was such a great compliment and is exactly why I got into this business," adds Ms D'Lima, who advises anyone considering a big career change to trust their instincts.

"If you find that niche and it's something that you love to do, just do it. There will be challenges along the way but the good parts will outweigh them."