Kawthar Makahlah Al Shamsi is the embodiment of the spirit of empowerment. And with the establishment of the biggest day spa in the world, in 2002, she found a way to cater to the fast lifestyle of the working woman while enriching the lives of those that she met. Sharon Carvalho speaks to this unstoppable woman, who was recently the recipient of the Femina ME Women Award 2016
How did the concept for Beauty Connection Spa come about?
Beauty Connection Spa is designed to cater all women’s beauty requirements from top- to-toe. It is inspired by the idea of an industrial factory with express service. Once the customer arrives,she will immediately be catered to. Also, BCS is not only a service provider. My core purpose is to my focus on gender equality,women’s education and women empowerment. We accept women from across the globe who come to me, looking for help. Notonly that, we also go out and actively search for women who need assistance and are willing and able to work. We provide aholistic approach to equip women with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need in order for them to succeed.
These women, mostly widows, single mothers, the disabled, orphans and women who have special needs, are trained to become professionals and, therefore, employable. These skilled employees, who all fight for the same purpose, undertake our services. I believe that by creating such an atmosphere, we pass this message through to our clients and to the whole community.
Why is beauty such an integral part of your business model?
Beauty is a way of life; this is how life expresses itself. The exploration of beauty is one of our guiding principles and it should be shared. I want to send positive messages to the world about who we are, not only in the physical sense, but most importantly, with what’s inside. To see it is the beginning of our moral sensibility. And that’s one of the reasons why I employ and want to empower women, especially those who think that theycannot do anything. I want them to see the beauty of working together and influence them into achieving their passions and
dreams, no matter how big it is.
How did the idea for the Guinness World Record come about? How did it feel to achieve it?
The concept was based on the women’s empowerment movement during World War II, with the leadership of Rosie the Riveter, who represented American women who worked in factories during the war. Since 97% of my employees are women, I wanted to deliver the message that we can express ourselves, stand on our own and show that we can go beyond society’s expectations. My team and I were happy when we had the title, however, we know that it was just the beginning, and we want to the world what we can do.
Empowering women is at the core of everything you do. Why is this so important to you?
For me, empowering women translates to empowering lives. In 2002, I opened the spa solely for the purpose of working in a field where women are empowered. As we grew, I realized that by having this company I am not only striving to achieve equality but I am also able to help women who need the extra push. We want to influence woman into achieving their passions and dreams, no matter how big. We need to teach them that there is no reason not to do so. We are where we are today because we have achieved these goals and we are growing because we will never stop wanting to achieve these goals.
Your business expanded at a rapid pace. What were the challenges that came with keeping up and how did you overcome them?
I cannot say that we have never had any difficulties because business is all about resolving problems. The most persistent challenge that I have faced is society’s idea of women and their capability. There is astrong viewpoint that women cannot do serious business and are incapable of effectively competing in the business world. This business has been running and effectively competing in the business world for 14 years, yet we have new hurdles
every day. It is our passion for our work and longing to fight for this cause that keeps us going.
What is your fitness and beauty regiment?
I do not have many rituals in my beauty routine. I just do three important things- cleanse, tone and moisturize,
combined with using brands that I trust. Also, eating a healthy diet is a must.
What was the thought process behind creating your own line of beauty products?
Since our mission and vision is to cater all women’s needs, we do not just focus on providing services but we also want to provide them with products that are essentials. We are a beauty factory dedicated to women.
How did the halal nail polish come about?
It is highly influenced by the Middle Eastern culture, where Islam requires women to remove their nail polish before praying five times a day. The reason for this is that it prevents the contact of water with the skin. But
this new brand of nail polish caters to women who now can now enjoy wearing it with no limitations. The halal nail polish is designed with increased permeability, which will allow water to touch the nail.
How would you describe your management style?
I adopt a liberal democratic style of management in my company. This makes all staff members feel involved and included. And this fosters immense loyalty and a bond of sisterhood. The members of the staff know that they have a family to support them in times of need. All our employees, from top management up to service provider staff have the right to work in an environment that is safe and healthy.
What are your business goals for 2017?
I want to expand my business locally and internationally. In fact, Be Connected already has its supplier branches around GCC and the spa has expanded its training arm with a nail institute that offers a range of the most popular beauty, holistic and nails courses in Dubai. We are now working towards franchising the spa.
Photograph by: Sarfaraz Ali Photography