“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world,” a statement made by Hillary Clinton that packs quite a punch. It is no lie that women are quite overlooked in society when it comes to establishing themselves or growing their own business. With huge names such as Huda Kattan, the founder of Huda Beauty, and Vera Wang, who is a top fashion designer, all these women were able to overcome that stigma and establish themselves as successful businesswomen/entrepreneurs.
I wanted to create a sanctuary for women where they feel relaxed, taken care of, spoiled, and feel like royalty!
This brings us to Tahmina Nabi, the owner of the prestigious SASS Beauty Lounge in Dubai, UAE. Following her vision of how she wants her salon to look and having a passion for beauty and fashion, she is the definition of a self-made business woman. Growing up in California she had a very strong interest in hair, makeup, and all the beauty industry since she was little. After moving to Dubai from the West Coast, she decided to turn her hobby into a full-time business. Now she is a hard-working mom of two kids, and SASS seems to be the world she dreamed of as a little girl.
We had the pleasure to catch up with Tahmina Nabi and ask her some interesting questions about her salon and her life.
Chic Icon: Your beauty salon seems to attract many customers every day. What makes it stand out across from all the other beauty parlors in Dubai?
Tahmina Nabi: SASS is attracting women from all over the world mainly due to the pink and eye-catching interior. The color pink is very special to me. “Gulabi,” which means pink in Farsi, was a nickname given to me by my maternal grandfather when I was a baby. The nickname stuck, and it heavily influenced the theme for my salon. Pink also has a calming effect that is associated with love, kindness, and femininity. Women are nurturers, givers, and doers, among many things, so I wanted to create a sanctuary for women where they feel relaxed, taken care of, spoiled, and feel like royalty. The professional and highly qualified technicians are also one of the main reasons that keep our clients coming back.
CI: What/Who inspired you to open a beauty lounge? Did you take inspiration from movies, art pieces, or everyday life to come up with the design of the lounge?
TN: My inspiration came from my love for beauty and fashion. I’ve been obsessed with hair and makeup and all things beauty since childhood. I grew up styling my mom and three sisters to every event we went to. After moving to Dubai from California, I decided to turn that hobby into a career, and voila! We have SASS.
Fun fact: I didn’t hire an interior designer! Normally you would hire an interior designer, show them the space, the drawings, and they would then plan out space for you. But I designed every corner of the salon myself. I’ve had this vision of a total PINK spot with a blow bar, joined with a floral pedicure station and loads of chandeliers. When I was designing the space, my goal was if you were to stand right in the middle of the salon and hold your phone for a picture, it would have to be picture friendly from 360 degrees, and I think I accomplished that successfully.
CI: Were there any challenges along the way? What were some of them?
TN: Yes, of course, there were challenges. Any business you open, you will certainly face all sorts of challenges in the beginning, from hiring the right staff, attracting clients, and finding the perfect location. But the main challenge for us, I’d say, was COVID-19. SASS opened in January 2020, then in late February, early March, we had to shut down due to the spread.
CI: Speaking of challenges, is it difficult to be a woman entrepreneur in Dubai?
TN: I wish I could answer no to this question but unfortunately, being a woman in any field of business anywhere around the world is indeed challenging. Thanks to my supportive husband for being right by my side every step of the way while building this dream project. I’d say it made a HUGE difference in every aspect.
CI: Do you think social media helps the growth of your business? How important is social media to you in that matter?
TN: Yes, social media helped with the growth and popularity of SASS! Social media has been an essential piece of our marketing strategy. Over 3 billion people use social media, so the type of exposure it gives to new businesses is amazing! It helps us connect with our clients, and it is the most cost-efficient marketing channel; we can build and establish relationships with our followers, who can then turn into potential clients.
CI: As a person who is very much invested in the beauty world, do you think social media puts an unfair standard on beauty?
TN: I do think social media puts an unfair standard on beauty that can be detrimental to women of all ages. With that being said, we can use social media as a tool to change the unrealistic standard and redefine the very definition of beauty. We see that with business tycoon Huda Beauty; She has taken a stance on these unrealistic beauty standards not only by posting unedited, makeup-free, and filter-free pictures of herself and loving her natural self but also by pointing out the app companies for setting unrealistic and superficial standards to how a woman should look and what is considered beautiful. We need more inspirational, strong, and beautiful public figures like Huda to step up and point out these flaws in the social media world.
CI: What advice would you give to young girls who would want to one day follow in your footsteps?
TN: The advice I would give to young girls is to FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! You will face so many bumps on the way; different opinions, pros, and cons, but just listen to your heart and follow it! Nothing good comes easy in life. You have to work extremely hard and not give up. I was in my 3rd trimester with my second child running around Dubai to complete this project.
CI: Are there any upcoming projects that you are working on that you can disclose at this very moment?
Yes, there are many projects in the works: some big, some small. Inshallah, with the grace of God, let’s hope it’ll be a great year for us.
Tahmina Nabi is truly an inspiration to women to follow their dreams and to be extremely hard working. It was a pleasure to talk and get to know her story.
Read more INTERVIEWS here