Divine intervention

A chance glimpse at a recruitment ad for Emirates Airline saw ambitious Scot, Kelly Lundberg, jump on the next flight to Dubai. Now the owner of a successful personal shopping business, she is just one of many entrepreneurs to have flourished in the emirate’s can-do environment. Vision hears her story

On a particularly cold winter’s day in her native Scotland, Kelly Lundberg saw an Emirates Airline advertisement for a position as an air stewardess based in Dubai. She was instantly sold on the concept of year-round sunshine and within weeks she was living in the emirate.

As a young yet experienced employee of a world-class airline, Kelly was on track for her next departure. Excellent customer service skills, an approachable, enthusiastic personality and a strong sense of self-presentation proved valuable currency for exchanging into a new career.

‘There are so many opportunities in this city. Factor in its contagious, entrepreneurial attitude, and you really do feel as though anything is possible’

Cutting her service industry skills with a love of fashion and an innate sense of style, the young Scot realised personal shopping suited her perfectly. “While working for Emirates I saw a gap in the market,” says Lundberg. “Although I was young, I felt this stood in my favour, because in three years if I still hadn’t made any money I would only be 27 and could still start a new career.”

Divine, Lundberg’s personal shopping business, was designed to make people’s lives easier. It serves the local and expatriate community, shopping and styling for those short on time or in need of inspiration but without compromising on style. “My core clientele tend to be women in business who don’t have time to shop but realise the importance of dressing for success,” says Lundberg. “Another growing area is mothers who struggle to find a style that suits their new lifestyle and, often, new shape; you would be surprised how competitive the school run can be!”

In an environment where people take real pride in their appearance, Lundberg shops and sources items from a number of high-end retailers around the world for a client base in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and counts local celebrities among that clientele.

“There are so many opportunities in this city. Factor in its contagious entrepreneurial attitude and you really do feel as though anything is possible,” she says. “When I initially launched the business, Dubai’s tourism department was positioning the city as the next shopping destination and, from research, there didn’t seem to be any personal shopping and styling services targeting visitors.”

Lundberg’s plan to grow a business around unforced sartorial elegance was fertile but needed good soil into which it could set down roots. As with any entrepreneur she encountered challenges in getting started, but values being one of the pioneers and views the ground as much more cultivated now. “Business services such as Links Dubai or virtual free zone VirtuZone will organise your entire set-up.”

She also puts great value on having a supportive network, on hand to offer advice and share ideas. “There are great communities for networking in Dubai. Shelter is a unique office infrastructure aimed at nurturing entrepreneurship within small businesses, and Heels and Deals is a network for female entrepreneurs to gain easy access to each other’s skills, talents and knowledge.”

Galvanized by this culture of entrepreneurship and the people she has met in the city she now calls home, Lundberg published her book Success in the City: Dubai’s Entrepreneurs Tell Their Story, last year. “I believe inspiration is one of the best forms of motivation,” she says. “I speak to countless individuals who have ideas and are thinking about starting a business, but you don’t make money thinking about it – you have to try it.”