By Muhammad Riaz Usman Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "GOSSIP" is a multi-concept company founded by entrepreneur Shayma Nawaf Al Fawwaz. The company offers a mix of designer brand experiences -- from food to fashion, as well as events management. Since 2013, Shayma, an advocate of empowering women, has grown the company to a team of over 220 employees, 70 percent of which are women.
Shayma Nawaf Al Fawwaz, founder and chief executive of GOSSIP The Brand, is a leading new-generation UAE woman entrepreneur.
She wondered what it would be like for Emirati brands to travel the world and spread their influence worldwide.
"I've always experienced Western brands spreading their presence here. Very little local brands do the same and travel. With GOSSIP, our aim was to include an Emirati touch in everything we do, whether it is in our F&B arm operations or our event management and brand management services. Our objective was to create a brand that was shaped to go global while portraying our Emirati culture, habits and experiential services," Shayma explains.
GOSSIP The Brand is a multi-concept company, offering an array of designer brand experiences -- from food to fashion, as well as events management.
With strong leadership qualities and a global vision, Shayma aims to innovate and provide sustainable solutions across the social entrepreneurship landscape. One of GOSSIP's pillars is corporate social responsibility and giving back to the community is in the brand's DNA.
"GOSSIP aims to portray Emirati culture through its various concepts worldwide. Our big picture is to show the world the beauty eminent in the UAE's culture and lifestyle. GOSSIP also gives me the opportunity to inspire female entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and never give up on their goals through the many entrepreneurial and business-related talks that I take part in," she continues.
Shayma says that GOSSIP crafts its offering with a global mission in mind, including a touch of Emirati in mainstream dishes and choices that people from all around the world are bound to love.
"GOSSIP changes the Western influence game by taking Emirati habits and customs outward for a change," she says.
Shayma, an advocate of women empowerment, founded GOSSIP in January 2013. GOSSIP has today grown into a company with a team of over 220 employees, 70 percent of which are women, and is pursuing franchise opportunities worldwide.
"My first source of funding was myself. I used savings from my previous jobs. I then turned to government entrepreneurship funding sources [Khalifa Fund, Abu Dhabi and Ruwad] to expand future projects," she says.
Shayma says the UAE will continue to remain a hub for business and commerce, widely renowned for its efficient administration, infrastructure and sleek licensing.
"The country is thriving and attracting foreign investors and is unequaled as one of the most sought-after and attractive places to explore your entrepreneurial skills," she says.
"The UAE has become a highly preferred destination for its key approach towards business and commerce -- made even stronger by standards and regulations. The government encourages innovation across all levels of the industry, especially the startup industry," she adds.
"The UAE remains a dynamic investment haven that has attracted both major and startup companies. Advantages include the minimal control and regulation imposed by the government, low customs duties, no foreign exchange control, trade quotas or barriers and a stable exchange rate, among others," she continues.
Future expansion Having completed a PhD in genetics and acted as the vice-president for healthcare at Mubadala Investment Company, health is definitely one of the sectors she wants to diversify her portfolio in.
"Art is also an industry I plan to enter in the future, having formerly sat as a board member and art patron of Art Dubai Fair, and been an active member of the Friends of Arts for Abu Dhabi Arts. I would equally be interested to pursue fashion and beauty sectors in the future as GOSSIP itself exposes me to these industries in its orientation to fashion with its designer desserts and aesthetic focus in food design," she elaborates.
Shayma explains that Apple and Uber are her role model businesses.
"Apple was a visionary concept since its inception. It incorporated design into functionality so beautifully, whereas Uber revolutionarily connected the consumer to the provider without owning anything. They identified a need in the market and fulfilled that need by eccentric and unconventional means," she says.
She encourages young entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and do what they love.
"Plans will often not materialize exactly the way they'd been mapped, but it's important to still do whatever is in their capability to get the job done and things will fall into place accordingly," she says.
Shayma attributes her success to the Father of the Nation, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. "Sheikh Zayed was a visionary who was able to plan for the needs of the present and future generations, all while placing value on the past... Sheikh Zayed also advocated women's rights, giving women equal opportunity and encouraging their aspirations in life," she says.
"My parents were also a driving force in my success; they always told me to never settle for less and keep working for more," she adds.
Shayma describes that smart work, selective hiring and investing in customer feedback monitoring were some of the successful measures at GOSSIP.
"At GOSSIP, we work smart. We use professional and innovative means of communication manipulated through cell phones. Due to the nature of our business, GOSSIP's crew is required to be fast-paced and on the go. We also hire very selectively. Not anyone can be a GOSSIP employee. We thrive for an A team. Our hires are highly ambitious; they work because they enjoy the nature of their work and are passionate about what they do. We look closely at candidates' motivation and achievement levels before we hire them. Lately, we've also been investing more in monitoring customer feedback on social media as well as on enabling proper communication between our customer points of contact and decision makers. Specific systems need to be put in place to ensure this monitoring process," Shayma explains.