‘Made In Dubai’ Brand Hits The Big League

By Muhammad Riaz Usman Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Dubai Handbag designer Amanda Navai says her line targets the multitasking, fashion-forward woman. She says her venture which is celebrating its seventh year has paved the way for other regional designers in the UAE.


Many of us have a childhood dream of owning a successful business, but very few can turn it into reality.

Amanda Navai, founder and creative director of Amanda Navai, is one of those achievers who dreamed big and accomplished it on a bigger scale.

After working in the luxury and fashion industry for a couple of years, Amanda launched her handbag brand, Amanda Navai, in 2010.

"I think I was born to be an entrepreneur. What took time was realizing what I was capable of achieving. Stepping into the world of entrepreneurship is never easy, there is always the fear of failure hanging above your head. But once you decide to do it, there is no stopping," she says.

Amanda Navai, a homegrown accessories brands in the Middle East, designs versatile and timeless luxury python bags.

All bags are handmade and created with semi-precious 22k gold-plated brass metal, juxtaposed against pieces of exotic leather skin and marked with a lion insignia.

Amanda is proud to celebrate the seventh successful year of her brand, which she started with only Dh5,000 from her savings.

"Since its inception, the company has grown organically," she recalls.

To mark the occasion, Amanda Navai created a special range of chokers to offer exclusively to customers as a gift with purchase of any of her bags throughout Bloomingdales, Tryano and Harvey Nichols stores in the Middle East.

This year, the brand entered the Kuwaiti fashion market, where Amanda introduced two exclusive pieces, the Elizabeth clutch and Rosemin clutch, for the opening of Bloomingdales Kuwait.

Targeting the multitasking, fashion-forward woman, Amanda dedicates her bags to the independent, strong and unique women who inspire her each season. She says her venture has paved the way for other regional designers in the UAE.

"With the brand, we have always tried to reinvent ideas and create designs that are unique and one-of-a-kind. Some of my styles have been game changers in the sense of practicality, for instance the reversible bag, giving women the option to have two handbags in one. Another popular design is our Nayla bag that has a secret compartment to store high-heel shoes. The Monir style too has been a game-changer in handbag making -- there is nothing quite like that style in the market yet," she claims.

Amanda plans to expand her business further and introduce new products in upcoming collections.

"Another stream of business that I would like to venture into would be fashion consulting, implementing everything I have learned from my experience in the luxury industry and share with new and upcoming designers," she says.

Amanda considers herself lucky to have been able to start her business in the UAE owing to its vibrant startup environment.

"The UAE is a great place for startups. People are very generous with their time and readily available to share information. There are still a lot of concepts that are not available in the market, leading to a lot of scope for new business ventures. Even if the idea is not too unique, we still have the opportunity to implement simple ideas that work," Amanda says.

Amanda is a great admirer of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. "Sheikh Mohammed is my favourite leader, I admire him greatly and love what he has done for his country and people. He is a visionary leader," she adds.

Her favourite book is What I once loved, a great reminder to appreciate the now and live in the moment.

"One thing I would never get tired of is looking at the Burj Khalifa -- it always takes my breath away and instills hope in me," says the fashion designer.

Revealing her mantra, she says: "I try to leave my ego at the door and be open and more accepting of what the market wants. I always strive to learn from all my mistakes and do each task better every time."

Amanda attributes her success to her parents and friends who remained supportive all through her entrepreneurial journey.

She pushes young entrepreneurs to take risks and work hard to achieve their goals. "Give it your all. When you fall, get up and do it again and better than the last time. It's also very important to never give up, finding that perfect timing and executing your idea. Try to start small and grow organically. That way, you have less to lose as you travel along the learning curve," she concludes.

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