While we’ve mostly featured stories from Bahrain, this time we decided to expand our horizon to neighboring countries and find out more about the job market in UAE. We spoke with Menat El Abd, photographer, videographer and business owner of Black and White diary about her journey.
Tell us about yourself, who is Menat?
Menat El Abd is an Egyptian artist born in Egypt and raised in the UAE. With an artistic background and a huge passion for beauty, art and photography, she has been working professionally and personally to pursue and practice different levels of creativity. From being the face of Benefit Cosmetics Middle East to in-dependently being the founder and designer of the “Black and White Diary” brand.
What was your career like before starting your own business?
Well, since I graduated 3 years ago from American University of Sharjah with a bachelor degree in business administration, marketing. I was just getting into my newly found passion for black and white photography when I got the job to be the face of Benefit Cosmetics Middle East. Of course, that didn't stop me as I was learning by doing and working on my skills every second I had after work.
How did you come up with Black and White diary? How did it all start?
It all started with a strong passion for photography and the love for black and white pictures. To me, black and white pictures have a different feel, you get to see the picture as a whole and get less distracted by all the details, which is something I love. In 2017, I started creating artwork infused with Arabic calligraphy and turning it into unisex urban wear. What is special about these BWD drops is that they are limited pieces and there are no restocks. So if you miss out, there’s always the next drop!
What was it like starting your own business in UAE? What were the biggest challenges you faced?
To be honest, it’s a constant hustle and it still is. You have to have the drive and the passion to keep going and start your own business. As years pass by, the rules and regulations are getting easier for business owners in the UAE. As for the journey, there are always ups and downs, for example, finding the right supplier, the right material and the right factory to produce the merchandise that matches the brand’s standard. Quality is essential and is the main priority for Black and White Diary.
Did you feel like there was space for you in the market or did you have to work harder to stand out?
There’s room for everyone in the game. You just need to focus on yourself and the brand to excel. To me, I usually don’t look at what everyone else is doing in the market to stand out. I believe that the hard work and the quality that I put out into the market is unique and thankfully,it’s picking up throughout the years.
What would you say to someone looking to start a business in UAE?
The first step is always the hardest but you just have to go for it. If you truly feel that you have a passion that can be turned into business then by all means go for it! I have learned a lot and I am still learning just by being in the business and I am so glad that I get to share this journey and experience with everyone else.