Edward Kandaleft is the founder of Lynor, an online retailer that designs and sells contemporary and affordable fine jewellery made in 18-carat gold and gemstones. The Dubai business, which went live earlier this year, trades through Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as conventional e-commerce channels. Mr Kandaleft, 24, from Syria, who studied in Dubai and Edinburgh, is the third generation of jewellers in his family and says he is blending the history of the family business with a new, 21st Century mindset. Mr Kandaleft lives in Dubai with his parents, who moved to the emirate nine years ago.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
Through the three generations of jewellers in my family, I have seen my family’s attitude towards money shift from a fearful mentality to an abundance mentality. Back in my grandfather’s day, money was thought to be the possession of the lucky, or of the people from better-established backgrounds. In my father’s generation, people started gaining higher education and more educated people started getting better jobs. I carried my father’s beliefs forward, while gaining more access to information and resources about money creation and business management. At the same time, I learnt about the importance of positive thinking and having a proactive attitude towards money.
How much did you get paid for your first job?
I secured my first job as a business analyst at a management consulting company in Dubai shortly after graduating from my master’s in business strategy from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. I earned Dh7,000 per month; slightly below-average pay for a business analyst, yet I was happy with this salary. I was able to gain financial independence. I used to spend half of it and save the rest. It was my only job until I set up my company. I have always supported my father’s business in my free time and learnt a lot about the jewellery industry. Launching a jewellery brand is a project I have planned for many years and now my father’s company is my main supplier.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I lean more towards the saver side, as I have many plans and ideas in mind for growing the business in the future, which all require good savings. I'm planning a wider range of product offerings, locally and internationally.
Where do you save?
Mostly in my current bank accounts as I am not a big fan of saving accounts. I enjoy feeling in financial control therefore I feel that I can manage the savings part on my own.
What has been your biggest financial milestone?
Establishing my company which I did by myself, through years of personal savings. It was the point where I felt the most responsible regarding money, as my income was no more a monthly fixed amount or based on a job contract. As uncomfortable as it may sound, this actually felt very liberating. I had the freedom to invest or spend on my dream project, without barriers, pressure or senior approvals.
Does running a business at such a young age come with challenges?
Owning and managing a business at this age is a big responsibility, especially in handling financial issues. The main challenge is knowing which areas should be prioritised in this investment. There are many points in the business that require focus and good investment and there comes the need to allocate resources effectively and not to over-invest on one matter at the expense of another.
How has Covid-19 affected your personal finances?
I live with my family and fortunately have no issues with my personal finances as business is going well and I have always been good at financial management in both the personal and business sense.
Has your business been affected in any way?
We have not witnessed major financial changes since the beginning of the quarantine, as we are an online business with customers that are primarily local, so our business growth rate has not been hindered at all. In fact, it is likely that we have benefited due to many customers going online to purchase jewellery for themselves or as gifts. Our advertising is primarily through social media, therefore we are benefiting from the majority of people now spending more time on these platforms. The only exception is the scope for delays for shipping and growing internationally because of demand/limitations. However, we are still a new brand so most of our customers are local anyway.
Do you have contingencies in place?
I am making sure that my investments, spending and business operations are being conducted even more efficiently and in a cost-effective way, while eliminating unnecessary costs that are not adding value in the essential processes and operations. Beyond business operations, I believe that building a strong brand can be done with a cost-efficient budget, and now many branding and business deliverables can be done for free on apps and other online services which is a major focus now.
What is your most cherished purchase?
A nice, well-fitted casual shirt from an independent British brand, would always be my most cherished purchase. My shirt collection is one of my dearest possessions, and I tend to expand it incrementally. I appreciate the versatility, functionality and timelessness of the shirts.
What luxuries are important to you?
I have a great passion and interest in menswear, especially in British and Nordic brands. The most important luxury for me is having an elegant and fashionable wardrobe, that includes a full range of clothing – from the basics and classics to the trendy and bold. Fashion is a representation of the present moment. It is an empowering factor and a great tool for self-expression. That also applies to jewellery and I constantly communicate that message to my customers.
What has been your best investment?
My trade licence under the Dubai Economic Department, for sure. It was the starting point of a new journey in my career and life, the licence to pave the route to unlimited opportunities and growth. I started the process in 2019 and was finally legal to trade this year. The company is now based in Jumeirah Lakes Towers and supports itself independently. I’ve paid for everything and as such, operations are now profitable.
Have you ever had a month where you feared you could not pay the bills?
No, I am very fortunate that I have a very loving family that support me and are always there for me. Their presence greatly mitigates any financial fear. They encourage me to invest and even take risks, while assuring that they have my back in all issues, including financial matters.
Do you use a financial adviser?
I work with my family closely. My father has been in the jewellery business for more than 30 years, so he gives me great advice on managing the business’ finances. In this business there are special factors to consider, such as the gold and raw materials prices, and jewellery making charges.
Do you have any financial regrets?
I generally do not take risky or unreasonable financial decisions, in business or in life in general. I also never overspend or waste money; I respect money and the time and effort it takes to make it.
Do you prefer using credit card or cash?
I prefer using a credit card. It is easy, secure and time-efficient. It also takes away the worry of not having enough change or getting handfuls of coins back.
What car do you drive?
A red Cadillac XT5, with a dramatic black leather interior. My family bought it last year, and I selfishly consider it to be “my car”. I believe it is the best-looking car in town, until the next one I get.