She is one of the winners of the 2014 edition of BLC Bank’s Brilliant Lebanese Awards that recognize the exceptional individuals contributing to Lebanon’s business and entrepreneurship community. She is the prize-winner of the category “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year”. She is Aline Kamakian, owner of the restaurants Mayrig and Batchig.
- You are the winner of the “Woman entrepreneur of the Year” award. How do you feel about it?
Of course there is a sense of achievement; recognition surely releases all the built up fatigue, but mostly, I am proud that I was able to make of Mayrig an icon of Armenian cuisine and culture in Lebanon, the Middle East and inchallah soon, the world!
- It took too much effort to succeed. Can you tell us more about the path that led you to success?
When I founded Mayrig with my cousin Serge, we had absolutely no experience in F&B and we acquired knowledge and skills as we were building up the restaurant’s stones and name. Opening an Armenian restaurant was my late father’s dream and I had promised myself that I would do anything to make it happen. Therefore for the past decade, my life’s rhythm was drastically the same; late nights at the office, around the clock meetings, back to back flights and a lot of trials and errors whether in the kitchen creating, tasting or amending recipes, dealing with employees, suppliers and guests. A lot of mistakes were made but also a lot of accomplishments through hardships, financial struggles and personal challenges. We learned fast and became strong because we believed in ourselves, our brand and our team members and I am convinced that this is what got us here today.
- What would be the advice you would give to any woman who still doesn’t dare to start her own business?
It all starts with believing in yourself! Chances are there and your ideas which are more creative and more elaborate than any successful businessman you know.
In Middle Eastern societies, we are raised to believe that the business world is a men’s place and women are not encouraged to enter.
I think it is time to change these views, to encourage our daughters to dream big and to believe in realizing dreams. This does not mean to sit still and wish. It means hard work, swimming against the stream and never give up. It also means swallowing a lot of criticism, not expecting any applause and above all, being creative. A woman can make a difference; her leadership will differ from that of a man. Regrettably all we ever learn in school, the model that is presented in books and trainings is usually a male model and therefore you need to be brave and creative in developing your own style of leadership.
Therefore I’d say to any woman who wants to start her own business, don’t just try to be as good as a man, be better and dare to be different.
- How are you going to celebrate your success? And did you have any project in mind for the prize you won?
Successes are never done alone therefore neither celebrations!! I will be organizing a gathering with my partner in crime – Serge, to celebrate with the team the accomplishment that would have never been possible without their involvement!
As for the prize money, I am planning to use it for market studies, as we are currently exploring new destinations for Mayrig; it will help us to broaden our horizon, to grow steadily and surely.