Founder’s, CEO’s, MD’s and positions of power have an aura of mystique surrounding them. They are known for their decision-making abilities and their business acumen. But what happens when you step into their lives? We delve into the worlds of five powerful women and discover their unscripted stories
A fashion innovator who is constantly pushing the boundaries of high-end luxury in the Middle East, Ingie Chalhoub founded the Etoile Group in 1983 with the opening of the first ever Chanel boutique in the region. Since then, she has built sustainable partnerships with many other brands such as Valentino and Ralph Lauren and has also become the regional ambassador of Tod’s, Hogan and Anya Hindmarch. The launch of her multi-brand boutique Etoile ‘La Boutique’ in 2005 and her demi-couture line, Ingie Paris in 2009, is further proof of her drive and focus.
Describe yourself in one word?
I would use two words, multifaceted woman.
How old were you when you started working?
Very young! My first job experience was in my mother’s boutique during the summer holidays. I was a sales assistant and I can actually say I was a very good one! That was my first approach to fashion and to customers, and that experience highlighted the path I have followed the rest of my life. Spending a lot of time on the shop floor taught me that you always have to put the client at the center and always think about the body shape when it comes to clothes. This lesson is something that I continuously keep as a mantra when designing my collections: a woman should feel comfortable and beautiful in a dress and the clothes I design should sculpt the body to show it at its best.
Favourite subject in school?
I have always loved the history of art. I have also won a prize once drawing a painting inspired by the Sistine Chapel.
How many emails do you send in a day?
First country you visited
I don’t know if it was the first country I visited but I am very attached to France, I have been living there for many years. There I decided I wanted to work in fashion and there I established my brand and ateliers.
Always do more. Always do better.
What did you want to grow up to be as a child?
I have always looked at my mother as an inspiration and muse. I continuously wanted to be kind, chic, elegant and strong, as she was.
Favourite city in the world?
I love all the cities where I lived as each of them gave me amazing moments and memories: Beirut, Kuwait City, Dubai and, of course, Paris.
One place you want to visit
I am dreaming of some holiday time in Bali.
What time do you wake up?
For breakfast you have?
Favourite colour you like to wear?
It really depends on the mood and the place where I am. I like happy colours. For instance, in my collections, I always try to merge the bright colours of the Middle Eastern landscapes with the cuts and craftsmanship of France.
What’s the name of your hometown?
I spent my life around the world; I have at least four places that I can call home.
What do you want that you don’t have yet?
There are always new targets to reach and things to achieve. Nowadays what I would really want is to proceed with the international expansion of my line.
Going out or staying in?
I love to stay in and enjoy a quiet night with my family when I can.
Who is the most dialed number on your phone?
My sons’ and husband’s ones.
Which charity would you support?
I really believe in giving back in life and I try to help as much as I can. As a woman, I feel connected with other women and I support the research on breast cancer as an ambassador for the Pink Caravan organization and the 10KSA project.
What has this job taught you?
That success doesn’t come easily and you need to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, work hard to get there and always be thankful and humble.
You are most grateful for?
Values that you have learnt from your parents?
Money comes and goes but the true values stay.
When you’re not working, you are?
Relaxing with my family and friends.
Slang you have learnt from your kids?
Snap a pic!