Dubai: “Finally my dream became true,” said Alia Al Qasimi, an Emirati entrepreneur who started her journey in fashion design after 12 years of hard work and dedication.
“Today, I am launching, Minbart, the efforts of two years of hard work and persuasion,” she said.
Alia believes that her passion for art and fashion make it work.
Minbart, which means “Art Platform”, is a combination of the Arabic word “Minbar” which means platform, and the English word Art, is a multi purpose art and fashion store.
Alia, the management design graduate has created a new zone that allow all fashion design and artist to showcase their products regardless to the idea, identity or experience.
“It is the first of its kind store, which can be a fashion store during the day, and an art gallery at night,” she said. Alia speaks with passion and pride about her newly launched initiative.
Located in Al Muneera Island in Abu Dhabi, the store has a completely new concept, with fully flexible furniture and set up that allows it to be used for selling products as well as accommodating Art events.
“It is not a typical department store. It is envisioned to be a space where local, regional or international designers, whether emerging or established, well known or low-key, can find a space to express freely, sell their work, and showcase their creativity.”
“Minbart’s free spirit is reflected in all of its details, starting from the choice of its location. Instead of the mall, I chose a space on an open shops street by the beach at Al Muneera Island in Abu Dhabi,” Alia says.
As a start, the concept store will be selling various women clothes, fashion jewellery, bags, footwear and accessories in addition to artwork, designer products and stationery, she added.
Alia, who personally picked the designers who she wanted to collaborate with from the UAE, Kuwait, London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, and Bali, bases her choice on three criteria: originality, creativity and the ability to meet Minbart’s quality standards.
“For the launch, we chose 30 designers from a total of 300, who we communicated with through look books, prices sheets, models, pictures, as well as face-to-face interviews during buying trips to different countries, “ Alia said.
“Our target audience are cultured, well-travelled and are into design. Our products therefore are hand picked and not mass-produced,“ she added.
According to Alia, Minbart aims at introducing beautiful minds who create beautiful things, and for that reason, each product comes with a story not only about the artist who created it but also about their handicraft, where it was made and the idea which inspired it.
The initiative’s strategy from the beginning was to engage the community, hear them and allow them to get as creative as they can, and that interaction has been the theme of Minbart’s teaser campaign which has been launched on Instagram at the beginning of the year. The account has more than 1500 followers now, she said.
None of this came easy.
“Like every startup, this took a lot of time, dedication and effort. I had to juggle my time between 9am to 5pm managerial full-time positions and this project. For months, I didn’t take a break. My evenings were all about Minbart,” Alia said.
Talking about difficulties of starting up a business, she said: “There are plenty of challenges that come with any startup. There’s funding, project planning, finding the right location and product, finding people to hire, as well as store setup, management and media plans.”
By way of advice, Alia said: “It’s plenty of work, but as long as you are passionate about it, you will find your way and will find it extremely rewarding.”
“Go for it, be determined, truly love it, and be strong,” Alia adds.