I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a feature on Rtister.com, a global home for the savvy shopper who loves to own something contemporary, special, and unique. Based in London, Rtister nurtures and hones emerging designers and merges them with some of fashion’s most established names to create a global platform that showcases the very best in contemporary womenswear.
My latest project for Posh Fairy was a shoot for the soon to be launched L’Occitane au Bresil; a new brand with a French soul and a Brazilian heart. Traveling through the waters of Brazil, Olivier Baussan; the founder of L’Occitane en Provence discovered rich and exuberant eco-systems with fascinating ingredient stories, this encounter of Brazilian liveliness with L’Occitane’s values inspired to create a new brand: L’Occitane au Bresil.
The concept of the shoot was obviously inspired by Brasil, the beauty, the vivid colors, and the tradition. After scouting a few potential locations, we decided to shoot at a nursery, and Home & Garden were more than welcoming of the idea, and offered us complete access to their showroom. I will be sharing the final shots with you very soon, as they are currently exclusive material to Styles Magazine June issue.
And lastly for now, I would like to bring your attention towards every person who worked with me on this shoot, the team was in amazing harmony and they made the entire project such a great experience. A big thank you goes to all of them.
– Art director / Stylist: Joumana Soufi @thesidetalk
– Photographer: Jean Claude Dib @jeanclaudedib.photography
– Model: Hannah Delaimi @stylenscones
– Outfits: Enti @entikw
– Accessories: Stylist’s own
– Hair: Aziza ‘Zizi’ Skaff @azizaskaff of @blushkwt
– Makeup: Amal Al Adwani @amal_makeupartist
– BTS photography & videography: Roqaya Shamo @rshamo_
– Location: Home & Garden Nursery @homeandgarden
For as far as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with underwater photography. Maybe because it reflects a certain type of beauty that you don’t see everyday, and you definitely might not even know exists!
The work on this project was challenging as much as it was very exciting. I put the team together and was stuck looking for the photography equipment that we needed, rented some from a company and scheduled the shoot which had to be between 3 am and 9 am since the pool of Al Hamra Thermae would be open for members after that. The shoot was a while back so add to that, it was freezing! Unfortunately, Jalil and I weren’t happy with the results, and the shots were not a success. We had to stop, go home, and reschedule another early shoot. Meanwhile, look for better equipment.
About 3 weeks later, we were ready. With an excited team and killer equipment, we scheduled the shoot for the second time. Here’s a glimpse of what went on, and of course, the outcome.
– Art Director / Stylist: Joumana Soufi
– Photographer: Jalil Marvin
– Photography Equipment: TechSys Marine / AAB World
– Model : Sune Vantonder
– Makeup: Marvelous Makeup
– Location: Al Hamra Thermae
Marc Jacobs Announced the launch of his namesake cosmetics line, Marc Jacobs Beauty. The brand debuts with a whole 120 products available exclusively at Sephora Kuwait, Qatar, and UAE. I was invited to visit their store at The Avenues and enjoy the testing the new line, and oh boy! I spend about over an hour just playing around! The variety, the textures, and the colors are uh-mazing! I loved the shadows, the mascara, and the pen eyeliner. And although I’m not a foundation kinda girl, their foundations felt so soft and velvety, and most importantly, light! It’s as light as a BB cream, but with a foundation coverage, which I found extremely handy.
What caught my attention the most was the fact that the brand is launching a complete line, not just a few items here and there like we usually see in most of the fashion brands that . The only thing missing could be the makeup remover and the toner. Apart from that, you could have your complete beauty routine out of Marc Jacobs Beauty, including the brushes! which I think is very impressive.
Pass by your nearest Sephora, pay their stand a visit, I’m absolutely sure you’ll love it! Oh and you could visit Marc Jacobs Beauty website too, it’s very interesting and visual, which I loved!
I’ve worked with H&M Kuwait team a few times before to conceptualize and direct shoots for different collections last year. And this year, I had the pleasure of working with them again on the oh-so-hot conscious exclusive collection that has been making headlines all over the world, and it’s SO worth it. Here are the shots.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR | STYLIST: Joumana Soufi @thesidetalk
PHOTOGRAPHER: Saleh Al Sanad @al_sanad
MODEL: JiaoJiao @jiaojiaoyao
WARDROBE: H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection @hm
HAIR: Aziza ‘Zizi’ Skaff – Blush Hair & Beauty Center @azizaskaff
MAKEUP: Amal Al Adwani @amal_makeupartist
LOCATION: Al Hamra Thermae @alhamra_thermae
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by Sacoor Bothers to visit the store and choose an item, or two, to take home. It was my first time at their store in 360 mall, and the variety of the collection surprised me. They carry women, men, and kids, and offer a great customizing service, and the comfort of personalized fit. Pure luxury without the staggering price tag. Coming to Kuwait straight from Portugal, these garments are made with the finest cotton and designed in style of amazing signature European cuts. The brand is the official suit supplier for FC Barcelona. Don’t you just love that? I do! And it also was spotted on celebrities like William Baldwin, Chris O’Donnell, Rob Lowe, and actors from Grey’s Anatomy donning the collections!
I got this refined shirt that comes with the cutest little buttons. I love small details, they make such a difference with classic pieces. I paired the shirt with NewLook denim and Zara heels. I picked the shirt in blue, but they had a big collection of colors in stripes and checks and also plain.
The other piece that I picked was this gorgeous dress that I fell in love with the minute I laid eye on! A pink shirt dress that looks so vintage-y, and comes with the cutest black bow belt to top it off! I felt like i was coming out of a 1960s movie wearing it. And I paired it with Ralph Lauren blue python heels.
I will definitely be adding this brand to my shopping destinations, for both me and the hubby (their men’s collection is super stylish and sharp). If you are looking for a piece to stand out in your outfit, or a gift for him that you can customize, you must pay a visit to their store in 360 mall, 1st floor.
I usually highly anticipate H&M’s designer collaborations, but this year, the H&M Conscious Exclusive collection is doing the job, keeping everyone around the world on their tip toes! Inspired by flamenco and bohemia, featuring embellishments, feminine silhouette and contrasting masculine details. Each piece is incredibly feminine, yet very powerful. I’m absolutely obsessed! The eco-fashion line is the brainchild of the Swedish retailer and eco-design think tank Ever Manifesto. The collection will hit stores on April 10, and will be available in 150 stores worldwide, including both H&M stores at the avenues. It will include items made of organic leather and silk, along with other sustainable materials. Make sure to drop by and get your hands on your favorite pieces. I know I will!
Smart, life-changing and innovative products that are transforming cosmetics made in Sephora are starting a revolution! With innovation at all levels, the Sephora Girl’s Lab is moving forward at full speed!
Sephora introduces the new Upside Down Mascara, an exciting mascara that leaves no lash behind. With a revolutionary application technique, this multi application 360° mascara comes with 3 make up results – volumizing, curving and lengthening; the perfect formula for beautiful lashes. With its revolutionary dual brush innovation, the Upside Down Mascara ensures that your lashes are coated from the root, and covered from top to bottom.
How to use your mascara in 3 unique ways:
• Open Dual Brush: For 360º volume, place the eyelashes between the two brushes, and pinch gently, stretching out toward the top in order to cover both sides of the eyelashes. The flat brush must be below the eyelashes and the round brush, above.
• Closed Dual Brush: For optimal length and curve, cover the eyelashes using the dual brush in the closed position, as with a classic mascara.
• One Brush Only: For perfectly defined lower lashes, use the flat brush in a “zigzag” movement from the root to the tips.
Sephora’s Upside Down Mascara is available at all Sephora stores at the following prices: AED 105, QAR 109, KWD 8.5, SAR 112, BHD 11.2
Paul Marks, a man with over 30 years retailing experience, starting as a management trainee with Marks & Spencer before spending 14 years in International Retail Development & Operations with Toys R Us International Division. After 5 years in the Airport Duty Free Industry he ran his own Retail Consultancy, Retail Management Solutions, advising International Airport Retailers and the Indian Government on Airport Retail Concourse Design and Franchisee and Operator selection.
There then followed a number of consultancy roles in Dubai, where he has been based for the past 18 years, with international brands such as Nike, Timberland, McDonalds, The Emirates Group, Standard Charted Bank and Nakheel’s Retail Division, Retailcorp. This led to Paul’s appointment as Lead Retail Consultant for Dubai Maritime City and Nakheel Northern projects. In his new role as General Manager with Build-A-Bear Workshop Paul will focus on growing the brand throughout the GCC and MENA region while at the same time looking for partnership and investment opportunities that will ensure an attractive proposition for growth.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr.Marks after being invited to visit build-a-bear workshop store in Kuwait to live the experience as a whole; definitely a fun and bonding activity to do with your child. You will read about my visit in a soon-to-follow post, for now, get a glimpse on the experience from the man himself, Mr. Paul Marks.
Thesidetalk: Where did the idea of building a bear come from? And when?
a: Build-A-Bear workshop has been around for 15years. Our founder, Maxine Clark came up with the idea. She was in retail, with a friend of hers who had ran out of collecting, a product called beanie babies. That’s when Maxine suggested making your own. It was the champagne moment in 1997. This light bulb moment lead to Maxine moving out of corporate retail. She wanted to do something with children & build a system wherein she could engage with the customers. Everybody always wants bear and it’s a fun thing.
Thesidetalk: How important is a toy for a child’s development?
a: It’s a really interesting, I get this question a lot at the moment particularly as we have a lot of children on the ipad using social networks. If we go back to family and friends, what’s the first thing we see in a crib? It’s a teddy bear or it’s a soft toy or a cuddly toy. Within us, we have this innate desire to nurture or to be nurtured. The cuddly toy or the ability to hug or hold something its part of human nature. We are often surprised how early that starts in a child’s development. It’s not the toy itself, it’s the creativity that goes with it/. It’s the game playing, stimulating the children’s imagination. The cuddly toys sparks the creative juices and gets people thinking. That’s the real value of a cuddly toy and any object, be it a doll or a car sparks child’s imagination.
Thesidetalk: Did the rise of the iPad affect the toys industry?
a: That’s a very interesting question and a favourite one. We see so many children on iPads and I think we are past this, at the end of the day we live in a modern world and the iPad is a part of that. I think it does much good as it does damages; there are a lot of educational games and apps on it. It’s kind of replaced the television; when we were kids we would stick to educational videos. I think at the end of the day it’s about the balance in life. Ultimately it’s the parents’ priorities and prerogative to limit the use of it and it’s their duty to manage the content and to encourage children to get outside to play. There’s always a place for children to play with their bears! I have a standard phrase I use in this case, “you can’t hug an iPad”.
Thesidetalk: At this tech-savvy time we live in, how hard is it to still be one of the few making a good old teddy bear?
a: Since you have gone in to our stores, you will see how the process is not just about buying a bear but its more about enjoying the experience. One this I find interesting particularly in conferences is when I hold a bear up and the audience smiles. You pick up a bear and the common and first thing they say is “how cute is that”. You can then go wiggle the arm or screw its face up and you have people giggling and guess what it’s just the bears; it’s one of those things going back to the nurturing aspect, it triggers something in the human mind when they see anything that’s cuddly or cute. Look at YouTube, 90 percent of the million people watch videos of babies, cats and dogs doing things that are cute. I think that’s a part of it and I think there’s always a place for general cuteness and cuddliness. I think there’s a place for both, there isn’t competition between tech-savvy people/technology and cuddly toys.
Thesidetalk: How do you mix the traditional teddy bear with what makes it more appealing for children of today?
a: I think of the things that particularly interesting about Build-A-Bear Workshop is we do not actually sell teddy bears, we sell an experience. One of the greatest satisfactions we often surprised or it never stops surprising is sometimes watching the parent. While they are going through the building process, watching their children enjoy the process. Technology comes in play is through our new media, how people share information. If you look at instagram or any social networking websites, if we put up a picture of a kid building a bear or the bear doing something daft – we get 83 to 90 likes within a minute. This is where technology comes in – playing an important role and is a new vehicle of spreading the word. As I said earlier, it’s not a competition and you don’t have to embrace technology overtime. Louis Vuitton is still going to be Louis Vuitton handbags. You don’t need a microchip in them to tell that you’ve got home; it’s still a beautiful product. Technology is now used to tell a story.
Thesidetalk: Do you think children receive enough learning or value from toys, characters or apps?
a: It’s really a difficult question; I think it’s about content. There’s a lot to be said about educational app. I think there are two parts to it – you always want to stimulate a child whether it’s a Mickey Mouse on the television 20 years or my little pony on an app. This is all part of entertainment that’s about making people giggle or have a bit of fun. On the other hand, the more serious side is educational and again there are probably more apps, then ever were television programs teaching you to count, to play, to discover, to go on adventures. And I think as I said earlier combining the two is the key. Balancing playing around outside, sitting at home quietly telling a story to your bear or learning a new tune or singing a song on an app. I think there’s a place for everything.
Thesidetalk: In you own words; tell us about the build-a-bear experience.
a. As a retailer, it’s all about engaging a customer and creating a relationship. From a child’s point of view, it’s really about the fun. We say, we don’t sell bear – we sell love, hugs and smiles. The child comes in and sees their bear stuffed on the wall. They can put a sound it in, and they can go to the big lovely stuffing machines, press the peddle and go on to stuffing the bear at the same time. They can give it a hug test to check if it’s the right level of hugability. Then, there’s a special moment, where they make special wishes and put the heart in the bear. The children can dress it, personalise it, and accessorise it with sunglasses, shoes & everything. They also get to name the bears and make its birth certificate. This leads to a whole new level of interactive play on our website and soon on our apps. There are actually processes, that we call – choose me, hear me, stuff me, fluff me, dress me, name me and finally take me home. Our customers don’t just leave the store and we don’t call it checking out but we call it the ‘take me home’. The bear gets popped into its own distinctive condo a little house and take it home. There’s a lot to it, from the minute you enter our stores. Our bear builders spend over 30mins with each customers, it’s a real argument.
Thesidetalk: What’s next?
a. One of the things that are always great fun is that although we are called Build-A-Bear Workshop we have very many furry friends and we found that in the Middle East and that four legged animals are very popular and we are delighted that we have six very successful stores and we’ll have 10 by the end of the year. Dubai Mall is the top international store amongst 86 franchises. Kuwait is always up there which means it resonates with the local population as much as expats. And we hope between now and 10 stores and in maybe five years we should be a AED50 Million business with over 15 stores. We are going to get involved in other countries which are great fun. The future looks bright and most of all it’s fun.
To celebrate the launch of their fantastic new spring collection, River Island is giving 3 lucky customers the chance to win their spring wardrobe valued at KD 400!! What more could you ask for?
Just spend KD 40 in River Island and enter your details into the prize draw for your chance to win. There are even 5 runner up prizes of KD 40 gift cards too, so what are you waiting for? The offer starts on Feb 21 and ends on March 20, so don’t miss out – head down to your nearest River Island store now.