DUBAI: For Emirati designer Shatha Essa, her roots and identity mean everything. “My heritage is incredibly important to me and I want to share that with the world,” she told Arab News as she shared her experience of being an entrepreneur in the region.
The eponymous label emerged from the Dubai-based womenswear visionary’s love for design and her passion to support different causes. “My label not only acts as a platform for my creativity but serves communities in need,” she said. “This is achieved through supporting artisans across a diverse range of cultures and nationalities.”
“Creating garments with a story, each collection fuses the traditional crafts and embroideries from these artisans, which in turn allows us to create employment opportunities,” she added.
Earlier this year, Essa released a collection titled “Ethereal Oasis” that explores commonalities between the UAE and Tunisia. The entrepreneur hired female artisans from Tunisia to help her create the offering.
Essa teamed up with specialists in handwoven buttons, in turn improving the welfare of local women in rural areas by generating employment opportunities, as well as promoting the preservation of craftsmanship in the North African nation.
One of her greatest achievements to date has been partnering with Dubai Cares to fund the construction of a school in rural Nepal, providing access to quality education to the children in the area. "Volunteering and philanthropy are extremely important to me. From a young age, I have been volunteering my time to help those less fortunate and when I started my own business, supporting CSR initiatives was one of my goals. I partnered with Dubai Cares in 2018 to build a school to provide quality education to underprivileged children in Nepal. Every child deserves an education, whether they are affected by poverty or emergencies," said Essa.
"The school was completed in 2019 and it still fills me with pride knowing that children will continue to receive quality education for years to come," she added.
Essa got her start when she launched her luxury label in 2016 and many of her collections are inspired by Emirati culture. “I had always dreamed of starting my own brand, but it wasn’t until I had the privilege of meeting the late Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, who inspired me to take the step and launch my brand,” she said.
Being an Emirati woman, Essa said she did not face any challenges when launching her brand. “As an Emirati woman, I am supported by my family, my community and the UAE Government, which supports and develops entrepreneurs,” she said. “The challenges I faced were in relation to starting a new business such as dealing with suppliers and facing fabric delays.”
However, if she had any advice for her younger self, it would be to “trust your intuition and don’t take no for an answer.”
The brand is sold both regionally and internationally at retailers such as Farfetch, Threads Styling, Ounass, BySymphony Dubai, Harvey Nichols Riyadh, Harvey Nichols Doha, Galeries Lafayette Doha, Tryano Abu Dhabi, Saks Fifth Avenue Bahrain and Elevnish, with more international retailers being added in 2023.