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.
"When people are stuck inside and are losing their jobs, how can you push nail polish when it's the last thing they are thinking about? I shifted to where I was trying to create an 80/20 effect where 80 percent of what I was writing about was talking about these matters and 20 percent focused on creativity and offering escapism to our readers."
-Alexandra Venison, former Beauty Editor of Vogue Arabia
Where does beauty stand today? In this episode, Rohma Theunissen sits down with Alexandra Venison, former beauty editor of Vogue Arabia to talk about her career, conscious consumption, making beauty relevant in the wake of social unrest and what it takes for beauty brands to succeed in 2020 and beyond.
About Alexandra Venison
Alexandra Venison is a beauty, health and wellness expert. Working in publishing for the last decade, her most recent roles have seen her as the Beauty Editor at Vogue Arabia and Online Editor at Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.
Born in London, Alexandra moved to Dubai with her family in 2003. Instant love for the industry saw her intern with various talents and titles across the region.
In 2009 she returned to her hometown and graduated with a first-class honour’s degree from the London College of Fashion in Broadcast Journalism. Moving back to Dubai in 2012 she began her career with the region’s leading title Emirates Woman. Since then she has worked with prominent brands and publications both locally and globally across beauty, fashion and lifestyle. Her skills include writing, styling, producing and shooting for both print, online and social.
To date, Alexandra has interviewed some of the world’s leading talents. These have included celebrities, Anjelica Huston, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Kourtney Kardashian to designers Donatella Versace and Tom Ford, leaders in the beauty industry like Charlotte Tilbury, Peter Phillips and Tom Pecheux and fashion icons such as Gisele Bündchen and Cara Delavigne.
Ever looking to expand her knowledge and skills, Alexandra has recently qualified from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (INHC) and as a Clinical Hypnotherapy and Psychotherapy practitioner with the General Hypnotherapy Register. She currently lives in Dubai where she works as a freelance editor, content creator and consultant.
“In traditional retail, you buy stock and if it doesn’t sell, it moves into clearance. But for us, the longer we hold on to stock, the higher its value – and that is really unique.”
-Nohman Ahmed, Co-Founder of Presentedby
Retail in 2020 has been nothing short of a challenge. But amidst the turmoil, British-born luxury sneaker consignment retail concept, Presentedby is thriving. Having recently opened their third global flagship store at Level Shoes in Dubai Mall this month, Rohma Theunissen caught up with two of the brand’s co-founders, Nohman Ahmed and Ridwane Ettoubi to talk about the luxury sneaker market, their Middle Eastern customer, why the consignment retail model works and what it takes to sell $150,000 sneakers.
Headed by Ridwane Ettoubi, Presentedby has become a beacon of sub-culture and a destination for sneaker and streetwear obsessives attracting some of the biggest names in the music, sport and arts industry such as Neymar, Coi Leray, Sanchoo, Dave East, The Game and Gunna.
Since they opened their doors in 2017, Presentedby have now started expanding and having opened their consignment store in world-renowned Parisian Luxury department store Le Bon Marché in Paris earlier in 2020, and most recently at luxury department store Level Shoes in The Dubai Mall in Dubai. Each store they open continuously brings experiential retail experiences with its award- winning interiors and highly desirable product offering.
Presentedby is owned by Undercover Brothers, a privately owned group founded by brothers Riz, Imran and Nohman Ahmed who over the past couple of years have successfully attained and established three major companies; Crep Protect, Presentedby and KLEKT.
About Level Shoes
Level Shoes is a globally recognised retail concept and destination dedicated to the world of designer footwear and accessories. The store offers a wide range of unique services; from shoe experts to foot therapies, culinary delights, a dedicated concierge service as well as a regional online shopping platform. The curated space is divided into 40 designer boutiques and five multibrand areas each designed with its own bespoke personality: Women’s Designer, Women’s Accessories, Women’s Contemporary, Men’s Designer, Men’s Accessories, Trends and Kids.
“What we are seeing now globally is a huge adoption in our users using the [new] tagging feature to find out more about these products. Over 130 million people around the world have already tapped on shopping tags since they launched around two years ago – making it easier for businesses [to sell products online].”
On Instagram's 10th anniversary, Rohma Theunissen sat down with Priya Patel, Product Growth Lead for Instagram and Facebook across the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, to understand the evolution of social media as a result of the pandemic, the rise of social commerce on Instagram and how brands can leverage the platform to elevate their social media strategies.
Resources mentioned within the episode:
About Priya Patel
Priya Patel is the Product Growth Lead for Instagram and Facebook across the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. She has more than 18 years of experience in media and advertising including print (Financial Times), TV (BBC), agency and digital in the UK, Australia and Asia. Prior to joining Facebook, Priya spent five years at multinational company Google, where she was an instrumental part of YouTube’s commercial rollout across South East Asia. Priya relocated to the Middle East with Google in 2014 where she managed the Food and Beverage sector and led advertising strategy across MENA. It was in 2015 that she was appointed as Business Development Lead at Instagram where she works closely with brands and agencies to help them achieve their business objectives on the platform. In her spare time, Priya takes inspiration from Instagram to pursue her interests in cooking, travel and scuba diving.
Follow her on Instagram.
"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.