| Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Personalised edutainment

Samar Nabulsi on how she juggles motherhood and a thriving business

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After coming across great personalised edutainment products for kids in the US, Samar Nabulsi decided to take the plunge and bring the concept to Dubai. We speak to her to find out why she did it and how she juggles motherhood and a thriving business.

Where did the idea for Big On Children come from?
While stopping in the US on the way back from our honeymoon destination, my husband Ramzy and I stumbled across a great gift idea for my nieces and nephews; a CD personalised with their name in 12 songs heard over 80 times. We were captivated by it and rightly so, especially when we saw their reaction when we got back to Dubai. At that time they had limited “Arabic” names in their database and only a few languages available besides English. Those who were lucky enough to have their own personalised CD were so happy with it that it ended up upsetting other nephews as they did not have one of their own. The second year we went to the US I had to go again and see if the company kept their promise to add more names and languages and luckily I was able to buy the CDs for my remaining family members. I realised then that there was a gap in the Arab market for personalised gifts of all types. Fast forward three years and Big On Children was born.

How does the personalisation service work?
The name of the child is pre-recorded on our system and the customer will hear the pronunciation of the name. Once the name is chosen with the correct pronunciation we then proceed to make a full album music CD that sings the child’s name over 80 times in 10 different languages, or we insert a personalised song into an Alarm Clock or stuffed animals. These products are what initially started the business in the US nine years ago. Last year, the company came out with personalised DVD movies where we insert the child’s face into one of our 6 available titles and the child becomes the hero or princess for 22 minutes. We have also created a special 4 track personalised CD that can be used as giveaway gifts for birthday parties, baby showers, toddler graduation, mubarakeh, christening and any other baby/child special occasion.

Tell us about the people who visit Big On Children
In The Dubai Mall we get a lot of different nationalities from all over. The majority of the customers are tourists, however we were able to build a great relationship with them as they come back to visit us regularly and send us emails for more products to be sent to their home country. We now have a nice database of Dubai residents who’ve become our loyal and repeated customers. Our products are not just great for your own kids, but they also make wonderful gifts which is why we get a lot of repeat business.

How do you juggle running your own business and being a Mum?
I used to sleep 5 hours at night and now I don’t sleep! It was very hectic in the beginning; it broke my heart to leave my kids to attend meetings. I kept reminding myself that even though I am not seeing them as much, I am making them proud. I am building something for them. The first few weeks were the hardest but being there was important to set the standard of service, training for the staff, inventory and so on. Now, I’m not there every hour, but I am there every day so I make sure I am home every evening for dinner and bath time with my kids. It helps tremendously I have a very dedicated Operations Manager on board, who happens to be my dearest friend Lara, helping to grow the business.

Where would you like to see it go over the next few years?
In every major mall or touristic area in the Middle East and I’m not exaggerating! Our team is working very hard to make this happen and we already deal with so many different inquiries on daily basis for people interested to take the master sub-distribution rights for their country. Everyone wants to be exclusive as this is really an exclusive product. We are opening our first international store in July 2013 in FAO Schwarz on 5th Avenue in New York City so that’s the next big focus.
Big on Children, The Dubai Mall. Shop online at www.bigonchildren.com or call 04 388 2345.

By Time Out Dubai Kids staff
Time Out Dubai,

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