First company ?
Virginie : Yes ! The Good Chic is my first entrepreneur experience and it was born out of a common dream with my friend Ali. I would have never started this without him.
Ali : As of me, I had a few experiences in the past in the blockchain field and financial services. However it is my first time in retail and it is definitely thanks to the complementarity with Virginie.
For how long have you been in Dubai?
More than 6 years! Both arrived late 2014.
Can you present the business in a few lines?
Our goal is to offer more choice when it comes to menswear in the UAE. Brands we find here are either really "fast fashion" or luxury.
We wanted to bring those small handpicked brands we like so much in Europe. Those with a real identity and most importantly environmentally conscious.
Our ethical chart is quite strict in the way we select our products. We only handpick quality fabrics built for durability and prefer natural fibers, if possible recycled, produced from short and controlled cycles.
You can have a look at our article to know more : The Good Chic : la mode pour homme chic et responsable débarque aux Émirats !
Have you always dreamt about being an entrepreneur ?
I think that kind of adventure has always been part of our dreams and in that case we would have regretted not giving it a try.
We learn every day and have to take many decisions from very operational to very strategic. We had to go above and beyond and grow in different areas of expertise.
What made you take action ?
March 2020 lockdown was a turning point. The idea had already developed. We were both working from home and we managed to juggle between our full time jobs and the start up project during lunch breaks, evenings and week ends. It was now or never.
Why pick Dubai to start a business ?
Since we were leaving in Dubai, this was the only option on the table. This concept also really answers a local need. It wouldn't be that relevant in another market like France. However we never imagined the many obstacles to set up the company. From bank account to all the paperwork. There are many things to know. It is best to have a reliable source of information.
What are the challenges around starting up a business in Dubai?
Virginie : The lack of clear information I would say. There are so many trade licenses for examples, which conditions and fees change on a monthly basis. Same goes for the bank account which can take weeks to open depending on which it is. And lastly the "hidden fees". The ones your never accounted for and have to deal with either way.
Ali : Indeed banks are not really helping small structures to launch. Nevertheless there is also a lot of positive! The expat entrepreneur community is very active in Dubai, people support each other and there are loads of support services available such as logistics.
What is your every day motivation ?
The passion coming from having built something of our own and the feedback of our customers. We fill a gap in the market and it is only with their recommendations that we can move forward.
Looking back, what would you do differently?
Definitely many things when it comes to operations and admin. We would avoid going through an agent for the trade license for example. Besides, looking back, product sourcing could be optimised as well as the buying selection especially when it comes to sizes.
Did you get any financial support to launch ?
None. We financed this first year with our savings. We are always on the look for opportunities to scale though, potentially through an outside investor. In the meantime, we are working had towards satisfying our consumers base rather than looking for every profit.
If you had 2 advice to give to future entrepreneur?
E-com in specific is a great sales channel but it doesn't look realistic to us to count on it exclusively. Don't hesitate to have physical pop up stores as well so you can meet your customers, get feedback and build trust.
Also, don't jump into conclusions too quickly. When you start up, it's all about testing.
– Our last mile partner I-mile. Very competitive price wise and most importantly very reliable!
– Villa Margot concept store in Jumeirah 2. A hidden gem for your gift ideas or just have a nice and relaxed time and a bit of shopping.
Future projects ?
Virginie : We hope to be bale to bring in more brands and have a more diversified range. Our deliveries are opened to the entire GCC and we just launched a small capsule collab with a Dubai based start up: blanc_dubai. Products are already online.
Morning or night owl?
Virginie : morning
Ali : night owl
Health breakfast or coffee and croissant ?
Virginie : coffee and croissant
Ali : coffee and croissant is healthy isn't it?
Extreme sports or meditation?
Virginie : In between! Wake surf.
Ali : Sport (not too) extreme
Quiet week end or party?
Virginie : Ideally a bit of both
Ali : I am all about a good party. Will keep you posted on the next one!
Spender or keeper?
Virginie : spender as long as it's worth it
Ali : spender in real life, keeper for The Good Chic
We are also on Whats' app. Feel free to contact us to send us your ideas and feedback!