While debate over gender-neutral toys is raging in more and more regions of the world, it is safe to assume some entrepreneurs didn’t really mind their toys packaging colors when choosing the games they wanted to play, no more so that they thought about pink or blue when they chose a career path. Mind you, some earn a living by catering to the second gender’s wishes and needs.
Some, like Rajaa Habache and Christelle Yared even shape a whole business out of it. And while the idea of a man providing woman with fashion advice has become the norm throughout the past decades, men tend to find it a bit harder to entrust women with car armouring.
How big of a role do stereotypes play in shaping a customer / business owner relationship? In Rajaa’s case, the odds were stacked in his favor. Through his attention to detail and understanding of the people he is serving, he was able to gain customers trust.
“Since I evolve in the fashion industry, where men have played a huge role in setting trends and designing for women, I have never faced a problem as the Concept Creator of La Rose De Sim. On the contrary, this played a positive role since I am offering women designs in the eyes of a man, showing my clientele the way he likes to see a woman.”
However, Lebanese society -as much as it shows support for women- is still lacking in trust, motivation and encouragement for young ladies to develop their skills and thrive in a domain they love when it does not really match the majority’s expectations.
This is a reality Christelle has had to live with ever since she chose car armouring as a passion and a profession: “Before seeing me, people are always prone to have a preconceived idea of who they’re about to meet, especially regarding my appearance. They automatically imagine they will meet a “Tomboy”, a masculine woman who hasn’t taken care of her appearance for ages, with short hair, bitten nails, lousy appearance… But with time, I managed to convince my clients with my professionalism, a pragmatic approach to their demands, my work ethics, and communication abilities and especially with the quality of work I provide.”
On her way to gaining suppliers, collaborators and customers trust, Christelle has had her family and friends to thank for their support.
But the role of loved ones does not just revolve around moral support. They also make you the entrepreneur you are. “It all starts with them”, states Rajaa. “We brainstorm each idea with those we love. Before I launched my brand, I have brainstormed and discussed a lot of ideas with my family and friends who were extremely supportive, pointing out things that might have been a bit blurry or hidden to a new Entrepreneur.”
At the end of the day, the fact these two entrepreneurs are managing thriving businesses is all the proof we need to assert that hard work, strength, business acumen and ability to adapt to any situation will always matter most when it comes to turning a dream project into a tangible reality. To all the parents who aren’t very comfortable with the fact their girl is more interested in cars and robots than she is with dolls and cooking kits, Christelle has one last advice: “Do NOT hold back your child’s ambitions and aspirations, nourish them from early childhood and encourage them to chase their dreams, especially young girls. We have the power, we can do it!”
*The Brilliant Lebanese Awards are an initiative launched by BLC Bank in 2012. As the first banking awards in Lebanon, they aim to recognize Lebanese entrepreneurs through two categories: the Business of the Year and Woman Entrepreneur of the Year and are a token of the bank’s commitment to SMEs.