By Lubna Hamdan
Narimane Kurdi offers tips about expanding established brands and developing emerging ones
Do you have an established or emerging high end brand, but you don’t know how to expand it or where to start from? The way forward might be to hire a luxury consultant. We talk to one such professional who has worked with the likes of Jimmy Choo, Stella McCartney, and Alexander McQueen. Narimane Kurdi, founder of NK Luxury Consultancy, explains exactly what a luxury consultant does and how hiring one might help your brand become the next Celine.
What exactly is a luxury consultant? What is it that you do?
Well, we basically work with international and regional established and emerging fashion and consumer luxury brands to advise them on their short-term and long-term brand strategy. So we help them with several factors like tactical planning for execution across communications, products, and retail touch points.
You run something called the mentorship program for emerging brands. What is that and how does it work?
The mentorship program helps brands work on a business plan which gives them a 360 view on where they are, what their potential is and where they could be. It also helps guide new brands. For example, a lot of the time, these brands are invited to exhibitions or invited to be a part of a store, and they just jump at the opportunity. They don’t realise that not every opportunity is the right opportunity for them. The question is, ‘Is this the right store for you?’ We also help them find investors where we work on an attractive business plan i.e. we mention what their buyback would be, what their short-term returns would be etc. It’s sort of like we’re protecting the brand and representing them.
You mentioned earlier that you would push your clients to start from Dubai out of all the cities in the Middle East. Why is that?
To be honest, Dubai is the business hub of the Middle East and the GCC - that’s a fact. They’re also trendsetters. So, if I have to advise a brand to start, I would push them to start in Dubai so they can have that regional recognition. It does form that sort of pillar that okay, we’ve made it in Dubai, we can make it anywhere else in the region.
It’s like being in New York in the US or being in Paris in Europe. So there is that sort of connotation to Dubai. Now whether Dubai is the right place for the brand or whether you’re going to have the highest rate on investment, that’s another discussion.
Is that why you decided to establish yourself in Dubai?
That and also the fact that giving the best advice is not just about market research. It’s about knowing people and living and breathing in Dubai and in the UAE. I was born in Dubai and I worked in its corporate world for 10 years. So I can confidently say that the Dubai market is one we know very well and which we can give the best advice on.
Who does your team consist of? Is it just consultants or how does that work?
Currently, we’re a team of five, a project manager, assistant, strategic planner, and financer. This is our core team, but we also collaborate a lot with other consultants that could add value to our clients’ businesses. So if this means hiring an art consultant or a gemologist for a certain project that we are doing, we would do it.
As a luxury consultant, could you contribute a piece of advice for established or emerging brands?
I think it’s important to make sure that you’re up to date with everything, because nowadays things move very, very quickly. For example, with social media like Instagram and Facebook, brands speak so much about products that by the day they get into the store, they’re already old news. I think that being in this business and in this industry, you need to always be very knowledgeable.For all the latest fashion trends from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.