Hami Faqihi Al Awadhi, 19, is an Emirati who is currently pursuing Business Studies at Western University in Ontario, Canada. He has always had a passion for sport and entrepreneurship. Aside from academics, captaining his school’s golf team, and playing for the UAE national men’s golf, Hami was busy building computers, and setting up and running his online sneaker and streetwear reselling business – Dubaisneaks.
‘‘My grandfathers, as well as my parents, are entrepreneurs. So I guess, business runs in my blood,’’ he says.
Excerpts from an interview:
What got you interested in the sneakers and the streetwear personal shopping business?
I’ve always had a passion for business. I started selling fidget spinners when I was in middle school, and later built and sold gaming computers for friends.
While in middle school, I got interested in sneakers. I loved the aspect of exclusivity, and how it had a community anticipating each release. I remember seeing my friends come to school in their brand new Adidas Yeezys 350 v2s and people would crowd around them just because they were so rare and sought after. From then on, I knew there was something in this that could be my calling. After saving up money, I purchased my first pair, the Yeezy 350 v2 ‘Triple White.’ Realising that I could resell the shoe and capitalise on the sale led to me becoming the founder and owner of my business of five years, Dubaisneaks.
Who are your mentors?
My good friend Chris Kelaita is the founder of Shu DXB Instagram page. He taught me the foundations of sneaker reselling. The other is Mohydean Jishi, founder and owner of Plugism, the leading Sneaker and Fashion Personal Shopping business in the UAE at the time. He sold dozens of pairs by the hour, some priced above Dh20,000.
3 pieces of advice they gave you?
1. Keep your customers happy.
2. Be professional.
3. Always market yourself as the best.
What were the challenges of setting up the business?
During the early days, I would sell most of my products on social media platforms. Initially, the biggest challenge was finding customers. Also, it was also quite difficult to be taken seriously especially when you’re a 14-year-old.
Finding good suppliers was the next issue. Once my clientele started to grow, I’d have more orders, and finding the shoes became difficult, as having good suppliers takes time, knowledge, effort, experience, and networking. I eventually managed to do it by networking. Achieving this took time but came quite naturally to me. The key to this is people.
Understanding how important communication and networking are within a community and industry is crucial.
5 business lessons you have learned?
• Track everything and always have a record of every sale and significant event.
• Learn and focus on moving forward; brainstorm, visualize and apply solutions to your business as often as possible.
• Build a routine based around self-improvement, and self-education, and have a work, hobby, and personal life balance (academic life too if you are a student like me).
• Treat people with importance and love. Networking and influencing are important skills.
• Outsource time-consuming work as well as tasks that require skills you have not attained yet. Delegating can achieve more in the long run.
What subjects are you pursuing in college?
I am pursuing Business Management at Western University. My subjects include Accounting and Finance, Economics, Maths and Psychology. Understanding Accounting and Finance is essential for growth, both in personal and professional life. Economics helps you build an understanding of the world’s view on trade. Maths helps you build a problem-solving mind, and Psychology educates you on how to better understand the mind as well as your team and your clients.
What is your dream career?
To be honest, I already have my dream career. The only difference is that this is just the tip of the iceberg of what I see myself achieving as an entrepreneur.
To learn more, visit haleeducation.com.