Inspiring. Tara Roux strikes a pose with a section of her single mum workforce at Kalm Holistic Beauty on The Palm Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/XPRESS

Dubai: Tara Roux is an entrepreneur with a difference. The Kalm Holistic Beauty and Kalm Grooming Lounge she owns in Dubai are mainly run by single mums.

Once a single mother, Tara, who came to Dubai 20 years ago, says 75 per cent of the 36 staff at the Palm Jumeirah-based centres fall under this category. The women are either separated or divorced from their husbands and are out to make a living to put their children through school and university.

“I know what it is to bring up a child all by yourself, it can be tough. My son from my first marriage was born three months prematurely as a result of which he suffered severe dyslexia and other learning difficulties. But I was determined to give him the best special education and that did not come cheap. I had only myself to rely on,” recollects the 43-year-old Briton.

Driving force

She says the success of her son, now 18 and in England studying photography, drives her to use her business as a means to support others facing a similar situation.

“Single mums do all they can on their own to love, mentor and support their kids because the father is absent for whatever reason. These women carry the entire emotional and financial responsibility on their shoulders. I wanted to help them give their children the best chance in life and send them to university,” says Tara. Recounting her first round of recruitment when she launched Kalm Holistic in 2011, she says, “I was interviewing some girls from the Philippines and Indonesia. They were shy and reluctant to talk about their circumstances. But I gathered that six of them were single mums, either divorced or estranged from their husbands.

I immediately decided to take them on board. Today, we have women with similar backgrounds from Sri Lanka and other countries too.” Tara says each single mum’s struggle is different. “In one case, the husband ran away when she got pregnant. In another, the woman has six children to fend for by herself. My nanny’s sister happened to meet her at a nail bar and referred her to me.”

Tara says, “These are lovely amazing women whom I admire very much. I have always told them to be proud of who they are - if anything being a single mum makes them stronger because they are doing it on their own. Girl power is what it’s all about.”

Eight of the 12 single mums recruited during the salon’s launch still work with Kalm today. Tara recalls how one Indonesian who migrated to Russia in 2013 ended up in jail following a visa issue. “Thankfully, her embassy got her out but it took time and she suffered a lot. I heard of what happened, so as soon as things were sorted out, we got her back to Kalm.”

Not surprisingly, the women feel eternally grateful. “We have a kind employer. We say it a million times. So many of us are single mums. It is hard, but honestly we don’t feel it here. Kalm is like our home,” says one of the women.

Another message recently texted to Tara speaks volumes. “We remember you in our prayers,” it says. The biggest tribute perhaps is from one of the four male staff at Kalm. “You’ve helped all your staff, not only women. I am proud to be working with your team.”

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