So tell us about Babybling…
It’s a unique one-stop shop, offering very high-end gifts and event services for mothers-to-be and newborn babies up to two years. I have a flagship boutique in Dubai and you can also order online. Gifts range from personalised baby clothing and accessories to jewellery, maternity wear and hampers. We also decorate hospital rooms for post deliveries or themed birthday parties, as well as baby showers and ‘mubarakas’ (the Arab equivalent).
Were you always bling?
As a child, I was the ‘bling queen’. Like a magpie, I was drawn to glitzy, shimmery accessories and would layer different tops, waistcoats and scarves and add my own embellishments like pins and brooches. I was addicted to bedazzling and took my ‘bedazzler’ everywhere with me.
Er, what’s a ‘bedazzler’?
You don’t know? It’s an essential tool you use to instantly attach studs and crystals to fabric.
What made you want to bling babies?
Well, at university I studied visual communications and graphic design and would add flashy, in-your-face accessories to every ensemble long before it became trendy to do so. People would always comment, so I began to bling up things for my nieces, nephews and friends’ kids. Then a friend said her colleague had been hired to decorate hospital rooms and arrange gift bags for babies and it was booming in Turkey. I researched the market here, discovered a gap and established Babybling in 2007.
It’s quite an Arabic concept though, isn’t it?
It’s true that Arabs love opulence. It’s been part of our culture for centuries (gold was traditionally given as a gift to babies) and Arabs see babies as their windows for fashion, putting great emphasis on dressing them up in gorgeous clothes and gems. I have a lot of Arab and Indian clients, but we now attract quite an international clientele, and have shipped things all over the world.
Have you faced any challenges with the business?
It’s really helped having not just an artistic background, but a business one too – I worked in the marketing and events department of Citibank. But I’ve also been really lucky. Babybling instantly became a staple name in the Middle East, especially in Dubai, and my first item (bedazzled pacifiers with matching rattles) sold out in three days. Receiving the Al-Tomooh Award for ‘most potential business growth’ in 2009 from his Highness Sheikh Majid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum was a good business boost and also a great honour.
What do you enjoy most about the bling business?
I love organising baby showers. They’re such upbeat occasions and, as I still don’t have children myself, it helps me tap into my maternal side. Being around babies and celebrating their arrival makes me very happy. But every day in my world is great – there’s an air of glitz and glam wherever I tread.
How does blinging work?
I have a team who design and customise the products. We get lots of requests for personalising pillows, bibs, babygrows and pacifiers with names or expressions like ‘Sheikha’ or ‘Cutie Pie’ and we also produce specific lines for Eid and Christmas. We use a variety of materials from crystals to studs to glitter to diamonds and we are constantly experimenting. Of course, we make sure they’re 100 per cent safe.
So, what’s your bestsellers?
Our signature pieces, the pacifiers and babygrows, and, believe it or not, our 18-carat gold pacifier (Dhs6,500) studded with Swarovski crystals.
Do people actually spend that much on baby gifts?
They spend more than that! Our most expensive gift is our diamond-studded gold pacifier, which costs Dhs20,000. We’ve sold around 20 and we’re constantly being asked for other diamond-embellished or 18-carat gold gifts, too. Recently, we’ve been receiving lots of requests for platinum products.
What’s the most unique request you’ve had?
A sapphire embellished baby bottle and gold brocade hems on some of our dresses for a two-year-old! We welcome eclectic ideas and these out-of-the-ordinary requests add to the variety of what we can provide. There’s always the opportunity to bling bigger – if you’re after more bedazzle, we’re at your service!
Babybling is located in The Village Mall, Jumeirah (04 344 1115). Order online at www.babybling.com. For customised events or gifts, email firstname.lastname@example.org.