By Muhammad Riaz Usman
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As chief strategy officer for the Arab Fashion Council, Ilham Abbas is one of the top women in leadership in the Arab fashion industry. She continues to exponentially grow her website www.elilhaam.com which features more than 75 luxury designers, including Badgley Mischka, JC De Castelbajac, David Meister and Ted Rossi.
After holding various top management positions in government organizations, Ilham Abbas finally decided to pursue her dream of establishing her own business.
Ilham, a graduate from the American University of Dubai with a bachelors degree in fine arts, has represented the fashion industry at several regional and international events.
She was twice nominated as a judge for Project Fashion, the Arabic version of the successful American reality TV show Project Runway. The show premiered on Future TV.
Ilham was also selected as chief strategy officer for the Arab Fashion Council. The Arab Fashion Council is the largest non-profit fashion organization in the Arab world.
Her aptitude, qualification and passion have manifested in the form of Ilhaam Group, a luxury fashion and lifestyle company.
In December 2010, she launched a global fashion portal catering to the needs of sophisticated women around the world. The online store features exclusive clothing and jewelery at competitive prices with an aim to ensure that every fashionista’s wardrobe contains style essentials.
“Online and mobile shopping has become a popular choice around the world as is evident in the current integration of e-commerce in our daily lifestyle,” said Ilham, founder, president and CEO of Ilhaam Group.
Catering to the global market from its Dubai office, the site features the latest clothing and accessories line from leading international designers.
She said currently www.elilhaam.com features more than 75 luxury designers, including Badgley Mischka, JC De Castelbajac, David Meister, Ted Rossi, Isabel Sanchis, Dorian Ho, Theia, Louis Mariette, Vittoria Romano, Isharya, Leitmotiv, Ozlem Suer, Black Halo Eve by Laurel Berman, Mabel Magalhaes, Sabrina Dehoff, Zac Posen, and exclusive designs from Moonoir, among others.
“When it comes to fashion, there are no borders or boundaries. Fashion should be accessible to all those who take pleasure in looking good and leading an inspirational lifestyle,” said Ilham.
She said that people shop online because it is fast and convenient, leaving women more time to focus on other important aspects of their lives.
“The rising popularity in Internet shopping can also be attributed to modern, secure payment facilities,” she said.
The portal offers prompt delivery at your doorstep through an internationally recognised secure payment process. To ensure that products are delivered on time, the site has tied up with FedEx.
“To provide secure and risk-free credit card payment services, we are tied up with PayPal & Network LLC, which provide a three-tier security payment system,” she said.
“Our product range varies from popular and familiar brands to upcoming designers who show a lot of promise. We believe in giving new talent an opportunity to exhibit and grow in the fashion industry, provided they have followed the international high quality standards in production.”
She said her website would soon launch an easy installment plan with no interest to ensure customers can pay back conveniently.
The Ilhaam Group also includes Aphrodit, an events management company that is focused on lifestyle events, mainly fashion.
This year, it was involved in Arab Fashion Week and Elilhaam VIP Club launch and will soon announce upcoming events.
“This is a very interesting and promising sector. We are working on exciting concepts to be announced soon,” she said.
Ilham believes that proper planning, dedication and hard work are the key to a successful business. She urged start-ups to keep themselves updated and adjust their businesses accordingly.
“Success is no easy achievement and it’s an ongoing process. First of all, entrepreneurs must network for their business, they should read more to learn more, and of course, they must train themselves to do better,” she said.
“My advice to all entrepreneurs is to work at least two years with similar companies to learn the business before starting their own firm. It will save their time and prevent them from making mistakes,” Ilham said.
“In other words,” she continued, “learn from experts before beginning your own adventure. This way, you’ll learn without the risk of losing your capital.”