x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

S*uce celebrates 10 years of style

As one of the UAE’s first multi-brand lifestyle concept stores, S*uce started out as a small shop in Dubai. It has since expanded to many stores in the city, as well as branching out to the capital.

In celebration of its 10th-year anniversary, S*uce will carry out monthly events to honour a decade of fashion – and its unique eccentric style.

We speak to the seven people who built S*uce from the ground up, detailing the changes they’ve witnessed over the decade.

Hedaya Al Rahmah

Creative buyer

The latest addition to the buying team, Hedaya Al Rahmah walked straight into the thick of it.

“With all the new stores, it’s quadruple the work,” she says.

The buying team is essential to the store as it is the stepping stone to the new collections. Buying trips, which involve travelling to trade shows all around the world and selecting pieces to go into the store for the next season, gie Al Rahmah the chance to see hundreds of contemporary and emerging designers.

“It’s difficult, but super-inspiring – we do it instinctively,” she says. “If we love something we take a risk and buy it.”

• Favourite S*uce item: Zayan the Label’s silver bum bag, The Good Practice’s “Coke” purse and S*uce Bedouin Nouveau sweatshirt

Dina Valrani

Co-founder

A few months after Fatima Al Mazrui Ghobash and Zayan Ghandour started up S*uce, they realised the chemistry they had with Valrani.

“Our strengths complemented each other,” says Valrani, who had always wanted to be a part of building a brand from scratch.

S*uce’s expansion not only involved more stores but also more concepts such as S*uce Gifts, which Valrani says was a natural progression as the demand and success of gift sales in store allowed them to expand to a stand-alone.

Valrani hopes S*uce will expand even more in the next few years – on a global and online scale.

• Favourite S*uce item: Tata Naka’s latest collection

Rula Saleh

Creative buyer

As one of S*uce’s buyers, Saleh doesn’t get much time to herself. Life as a buyer is “complete madness,” she says.

“Depending on what time of the year it is, days are super hectic during buying season or equally crazy the first couple of weeks back.”

How have these buying trips changed as S*uce’s customer base grew? According to Saleh, the store’s clientele has always been outgoing and experimental when it comes to their shopping choices.

“Fashion has changed a lot since we first opened, but S*uce has always stayed true to its identity.”

• Favourite S*uce item: Piers Atkinson’s ­rainbow dinosaur hat

Zayan Ghandour

Co-founder, creative director and head buyer

Ghandour started up S*uce with Al Mazrui Ghobash in Dubai’s The Village Mall 10 years ago. “The first week we opened we manned the floor ourselves and sold to customers. We had no electricity so we had to close when the sun set at 6pm,” Ghandour recalls. “The storage room was the pricing room, the meeting room and the everything room.”

By next month S*uce will have opened 10 stores, with 30 sales staff. There is also the brand Zayan the Label, which Ghandour launched three years ago and recently showed at Fashion Forward.

“It’s the equivalent of practising your best hobby every day,” she says.

• Favourite S*uce item: vintage Kawaii posters

Fatima Al Mazrui Ghobash

Co-founder

“I had a vision of a boutique that would carry up-and-coming designer labels, a denim bar and all sorts of fun stuff that, at the time, we could only find abroad,” exclaims Ghobash, who was frustrated with the lack of fashion and design options in Dubai.

On a night out in Dubai, Ghobash met Ghandour and shortly after the pair became business partners.

What’s next for S*uce? “S*uce Rocks for fine jewellery and S*ucette for kidswear are opening in the next year,” she says. “And I’m sure many more concepts and stores to come.”

• Favourite S*uce item: Alessandra Rich dresses and Simone Rocha’s pearl skirt

Melina Mitri

PR and marketing manager

From one S*uce shop to 10, as well as Zayan the Label, Two Scoops and monthly campaigns such as the Benches Project, Kawaii Kurates and Tuesday Treats, Melina Mitri’s marketing role has seen a dramatic change from when she began.

Mitri first came across S*uce after a friend of hers dragged her to The Village Mall against her will. “We walked into S*uce and I thought it was the coolest place,” she recalls. “They were playing music from the fashion CDs compilations that I was really into at the time. We clicked instantly.”

The relationship evolved quickly. “We are a bunch of really passionate, highly excitable people who love lots of different things and try to make them happen.”

• Favourite S*uce item: Venna necklaces and Zayan the Label’s Daisy maxi dress

Shaymaa Ghalib

Area manager

In 10 years, Ghalib went from managing one store to 10. “When I first started, I was selling on the shop floor myself,” she says. “Now I spend more time managing than actually selling.”

S*uce was Ghalib’s first job – she was exploring Dubai’s new malls, looking for job vacancies and walked into S*uce only to be interviewed by Ghandour. The next day she was hired. Nowadays Ghalib spends her days making sure every store is immaculate, from clever window displays to organising sales activities.

• Favourite S*uce item: “I love every item!”

neldasher@thenational.ae