Curated Middle East is proud to announce the launch of the Curated Conversations podcast series which is dedicated to making insightful, high-value, industry-focused information available to you on the go.
Hosted by Rohma Theunissen and powered by LFHM Middle East and Hall & Partners MENA, Curated Conversations is an extension of the Curated ME brand ethos, which explores the unique elements of the Middle Eastern retail industry and the impact that it has on a global scale. Our episodes will feature some of the region’s most prominent movers and shakers as they share stories, experiences and learnings that address real-life challenges and trending topics to help you navigate all of the changes we face in the industry today.
Real insights, real experts, real conversations.
Find us on the below Podcast directories under 'Curated Conversations':
A graduate of McGill University and Parsons School of Design, Rohma has amassed over a decade of experience in the international luxury fashion industry working for brands such as Carolina Herrera, Giorgio Armani, Marchesa, Harvey Nichols, Harper’s BAZAAR Arabia and NET-A-PORTER. With an avid passion for industry and consumer analysis coupled with her love for fashion and retail trends; Rohma is at adept pinpointing the underlying societal and cultural themes that impact the industry on a regional and global scale.
"The role of a [communications] agency now has really evolved to be much more sales focused which is great for the market because that’s what the goal should always have been.”
2020 has thrown a massive curveball to brands across every industry and now, PR & Communications agencies are required to play their most important role to date. Rohma Theunissen sat down with Rani Ilmi, Founder of boutique Dubai-based FRAME Publicity, whose clients include Matchesfashion, Maria Tash, Tiffany & Co and By Far to find out what it takes to successfully maneuver an agency and its clients through a pandemic and her strategies for enabling her clients not only to survive, but thrive.
About Rani Ilmi
Strategic Brand Builder and FRAME Publicity founder Rani Ilmi has enjoyed a 15 year career in luxury public relations, working on 360 degree brand strategies across fashion, fine jewelry & watches, beauty and lifestyle industries to strengthen their positions, first in New York, and now in the Middle East.
Born and raised in Dubai, Rani relocated to New York City in 2004, delving straight in to the world of PR & communications with in-house roles at CHANEL, Versace, Gucci, Jimmy Choo and Tiffany & Co.She moved back to Dubai in 2011 to apply her NYC learnings to the Arab market and to launch NET-A-PORTER across the Middle East. Over the last eight years in Dubai, Rani has represented NET-A-PORTER, Bottega Veneta, Victoria Beckham, Versace, Tod’s, Charlotte Tilbury, MATCHESFASHION.COM, Tiffany & Co., and many more.
Currently, at her agency FRAME, she is enjoying the newness of working with 'social-media-first' luxury brands by helping them connect with the Arab customer - from BY FAR to Maria Tash. The pandemic has forced communications to evolve to be much more customer-centric and the learnings from this challenge have sparked a deeper interest in communications for her.
About FRAME Publicity
FRAME is a thorough, thoughtful communications consultancy where the mechanics of media, influencers and the end consumers in an often misunderstood Middle East market, are – well – understood. A Dubai-grown agency, with a NYC polish and efficiency, FRAME is a full-service resource for brand awareness in all its forms. Our team have been shaping and communicating client vision in fashion, luxury, lifestyle, beauty, retail and luxury e-commerce for fifteen years.
FRAME knows what’s possible, and we’ve learned how to stretch that definition. Clients come to us to connect – with media, with consumers, with partners and “influencers” of all size and stripe. We build relationships, foster partnerships, and start conversations. Our team is fiercely committed and fully engaged – and fun. We understand the Middle East culture and know the difference between popularity and true influence. Client impressions outweigh media impressions – if you know what we mean. FRAME finds the path that others miss. And we deliver results, again and again and again.
“It’s always evolving. You have to know what your passion is and what you’re good at as well as know what you are willing to learn more about so that you can offer your best services [to your clients].”
- Judy Daghestani
“I never created a business plan [when I launched], I just went for it. And I felt this approach was useful for me to understand exactly where I wanted to take my business before creating a more concrete plan.”
- Rohma Theunissen
Halfway through the season of Curated Conversation's inaugural season, host Rohma Theunissen is joined by Curated ME's Founder Judy Daghestani to reflect on the past three months and discuss their individual freelance journeys. From addressing sticky topics such as pricing and finding your niche to client pitching techniques and strategic collaborations, this episode unearths what it takes to succeed as a solopreneur in this 1.5 trillion dollar industry.
About Judy Daghestani
A Masters graduate of University of Southern California’s MSc Marketing program, Judy Daghestani is the founder of Curated ME and Dubai-based boutique market research and brand development consultancy LFHM Middle East in Dubai. Born and raised in Southern California and having worked for high-profile luxury and retail brands such as Tiffany & Co., Ralph Lauren & Bloomingdales and Harvey Nichols in Dubai, Judy is highly knowledgeable about our inter-cultural, Middle Eastern retail market and holds an avid passion for consumer insights and psychology. Judy partners with ESMOD Fashion Institute in Dubai to teach Luxury Brand Development and also is the Cofounder of EASTWAVE Concept, a virtual pop-up that supports MENA designers reach global audiences.
“Gen Z get their news from Instagram, they get their beauty hacks from TikTok. They’re not buying newspapers, they’re not even going online as much as Millennials – it really is [mainly] social media. We posted a beauty review on TikTok and it got 300,000 views in 24 hours. That kind of reach doesn’t happen with print. Digital is instant and its global.”
This week, Rohma Theunissen caught up with Milli Midwood, Cosmopolitan Middle East’s youngest-ever Editor in Chief, to talk about the shifts and challenges faced by the Middle Eastern publishing industry, the evolution of print and digital magazines and strategies for catering to the region’s Gen Z reader.
About Milli Midwood
Having lived and grown-up in Dubai for the past 27 years, Milli has seen first-hand how the fashion, beauty and lifestyle industries have evolved - and continue to grow - across the UAE. Milli has worked at a number regional titles, including OK! Middle East and Grazia Middle East before joining Harper's BAZAAR Arabia, where she headed up the digital team for three years. Now, as editor in chief of Cosmopolitan Middle East, Milli is spearheading the largest young women’s media brand in the world in a new, inclusive and exciting direction.
“Everybody is going to be using digital means now to tell their stories. The advantage that big [fashion] brands used to have was that they could do so much more offline as well. Online does, to a huge extent, level out the playing field. So, if a smaller brand is able to innovate, there’s a lot of opportunity for them.”
With September (AKA fashion month) less than a week away, Rohma Theunissen sat down with Ritu Upadhyay, Middle East Bureau Chief at WWD, to talk about the current state of the Middle Eastern fashion industry, her predictions for the region’s first fashion month post-pandemic and how brands can engage with the Middle Eastern consumer and market in the absence of traditional events.
About Ritu Upadhyay
Ritu Upadhyay is the Middle East Bureau Chief at Women’s Wear Daily (WWD). Often referred to as “the fashion bible,” WWD has been THE industry voice of authority for the global fashion, retail and beauty communities for over 100 years. Ritu covers the business side of retail and fashion along with trends and runway shows, bringing together a unique understanding of both the creative and commercial sides of the fashion industry. For the last ten years, she has covered international runways shows in emerging markets, reporting on new design talent, as well as breaking news on retail markets across the Middle East. She has profiled fashion luminaries including Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Christian Louboutin, Elie Saab and as well as traveled to factories across India to report on manufacturing and skilled artisans. Ritu studied journalism and political science at Northwestern University. She began her career at the newsweekly, TIME Magazine in New York and has authored a biography on President John F. Kennedy. In addition to WWD, she has covered the Middle East for Bloomberg TV. Born and raised in Chicago, Ritu has lived in New York, India, Jordan and Pakistan, and currently divides her time between Washington D.C. and Dubai.
Rohma Theunissen speaks to the Founder of Beirut-based agency, Bureau Des Créateurs and Co-Founder of EASTWAVE Concept & United For Lebanese Creatives Fund, to discuss the re-building efforts following the tragic explosion that took place in Beirut August 4th, the launch of the United For Lebanese Creatives Fund and lastly, how people around the world can help.
About Christian Daccache
Christian Daccache is the Founder of Bureau Des Créateurs (BDC); a Beirut-based agency that discovers young talent, nurtures them strategically, and provides them with international standards of image consultancy, PR, Communications and Marketing services in the Middle East and North Africa, to help them thrive. Christian also has extensive experience in the fashion industry. Starting as a PR & Marketing Associate at Chalhoub Group Retail, he was later hired by LVMH to head CÉLINE’s CRM & Communications department in the Middle East. Christian holds a masters in Luxury Brand Management from Istituto Marangoni and a BA in Entrepreneurship from the American University in Beirut.
About Bureau Des Créateurs
Bureau Des Créateurs offers its clients a tailored and on-point approach for their brands to develop regionally, and globally. BDC also consults on all matters related to how consumers perceive their brands as well as match that with the right PR & Communication efforts to take it to the next level. Bureau Des Créateurs has a deep understanding of the Middle Eastern market, direct links to the top tier media channels of the fashion industry, strong relationships with key influencers, public figures and stylists, as well as a rich database of potential VIPs and Customers, and solid ties with key boutiques and buyers.
About United For Lebanese Creatives
Developed with the unified support of Starch Foundation, Slow Factory Foundation, Fondation Saradar, Bureau Des Créateurs, Maison Pyramide, Faux Consultancy and Roni Helou, United For Lebanese Creatives is a fundraising initiative to benefit Beirut’s independent designers and artists whose damages amounted to over 850,000$. The crowdfunding campaign is dedicated to supporting the restoration and survival of this Beirut's creative sector which not only reflects Lebanon's unique culture, but is also a vital industry in terms of employment. Working in consultation with the affected designers, the fund has been able to identify the assistance needed and the amounts required for each of its 39 applicants. Together and with the help of all its supporters, Beirut will rise again.
About EASTWAVE Concept
EASTWAVE is a virtual pop-up concept aiming to support emerging and established designers from across the MENA region, enabling them to reach international audiences and a new customer base. Each season the pop-up is hosted by like-minded platforms that share the same mission and values. EASTWAVE is founded by Dana Mortada in LA, Judy Daghestani in Dubai and Christian Daccache in Beirut. Season 1 is supported by TATA PR in LA and hosted by Maison Orient. EASTWAVE Concept is donating a percentage of all sales to trusted charitable organizations in Lebanon.
To learn more about the United for Lebanese Creatives Fund, please visit their website.
To shop and donate at EASTWAVE Concept, click here.