DUBAI // Kawthar Makahlah is not just a successful Emirati woman – she is a record-breaking one, and she chooses to help other women climb the career ladder by employing women from underprivileged backgrounds.
In 2002, the founder and chief executive of BCI Group opened the Beauty Connection Spa, a business empire with 12 subsidiaries across the GCC that employs 300 people and has brands that include the region’s first halal-certified nail polish.
“I have been in the beauty salon industry for 15 years, and one reason I particularly enjoy this business – and the challenges that go with it – is the opportunity to connect with and help people,” said the Emirati. “My company is all about people, its staff and customers.”
The expansion of her business has been so rapid that it is now ranked as the biggest day spa in the world, and it holds a Guinness World Record for the most nails filed and varnished in eight hours.
Ms Makahlah’s business is also one with a social conscience – 95 per cent of Beauty Connection Spa’s employees are female and from underprivileged backgrounds, including single mothers, orphans and those with special needs.
“We want to influence women towards achieving their passions and their dreams,” said Ms Makahlah. “We believe in giving people opportunities and my focus is on making sure the staff feel like one happy family, each helping the other when needed and bringing out the best in their talents.”
Beauty Connection Spa came about because of what Ms Makahlah describes as a “very limited” salon range in Dubai at the time.
“We started with a relatively small space and a small number of staff, and the rest is history,” she said. “We are where we are today because we have achieved our goals, and we are continuing to grow because we will never stop wanting to achieve our goals.”
The first challenge she faced was to be accepted a “serious” entrepreneur.
“Many people thought my idea was a fleeting one and I would not have the wherewithal, tenacity, patience and resilience to see the project through,” she said.
“I kept my focus and continued, despite the challenges, and when I saw the happy face of an employee, her smile motivated me further and I knew I was on the right track.”
Among her many employees is Lorena Gonzales Omana, a 51-year-old Filipina who was one of Beauty Connection Spa’s first employees and is now in her 14th year with the company.
“Joining Beauty Connection Spa helped my children to achieve their dreams and complete their education,” she said. “It helped me to improve my work, and to have self-discipline, patience, respect and love for my fellow employees.
“It inspired me to become more professional and responsible. Beauty Connection Spa treat us not just as employees, but as part of the ‘family’.”
She credited that to Ms Makahlah, saying: “She is not only a boss, but our mentor, our sister and a friend.”
Ms Makahlah said she hopes more Emirati women follow their dreams.
“I hope they do not allow difficulties or minor setbacks to dampen their spirits,” she said. “By doing so, they will be inspiring many more women.
“Through opportunities provided by government policies and strategies on gender empowerment, Emirati women have become pioneers in different fields.
“The future is limitless. There are no boundaries.”
Source: uae news