Women of the UAE: Fashion designer reaches out to budding entrepreneurs

Sara Al Madani lectures at universities to help students learn from her past experiences in setting up a business.

Abaya designer Sara Al Madani’s vision of entrepreneurship is not only about commerce, it is also about education. Reem Mohammed / The National
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SHARJAH // An unfortunate business experience did not push Sara Al Madani into the refuge of a Government job. Instead, the Emirati designer used it to teach her younger peers what to look out for when starting their own company.

“I’m always cautious when I do things now,” said Ms Al Madani, 29. “And I want to teach people how to be cautious, too.”

While her abaya business, Rouge Couture, is up and running in Sharjah, she is directing her energy towards young people in universities across the UAE.

“I view this as a duty and a must in my life,” she said. “My last class was about teaching young small and medium enterprises how to have safe contracts with partners because that’s something I didn’t do right, and how to take emotions out of business when you’re working. I’m trying to teach them from my own experiences.”

Ms Al Madani has visited NYU Abu Dhabi, Sharjah University, Sharjah College and Al Ghurair University.

“I love it because I also started young, at 15,” she said. “So I wasted four to five years learning right from wrong and adjusting through the trial and error phase, so now I feel why don’t I save these young entrepreneurs the trial and error time so they can jump-start their business in the right way.

“It’s a social responsibility and honestly, knowledge is for free so why not share it with everybody?”

She found her designs matured with time.

“They’re stronger, more bold and very out there,” she said. “They’re made for women who believe in themselves, work hard, want to achieve things and are independent.”

Ms Al Madani said sharing her experience was crucial.

“If you think about it in this way, when people grow and get big, it gets to their head and they get more selfish by wanting to preserve their information and this is very wrong,” she said. “The bigger you get in life, the more you should help because kindness is disappearing from the world, so we need to focus on this because the more you grow with them.”

She goes as far as sharing her valuable contacts to help secure jobs for prospective graduates.

“I noticed that the fashion school in Sharjah University is very strong but not many people are actually applying to it because they feel they won’t find jobs as locals when they graduate,” she said.

“So they turn to business and finance but I’m trying to educate them and work deals for them so I’ll bring all my business cards to the table and try to get these young girls jobs and internships.”

She is a board member of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and in the process of implementing a number of projects to improve the emirate economically and industrially.

“The last two years were a very rough ride for me but I learnt a lot about myself. I didn’t just give up and work in the Government where I could easily get a job. ”