As well as strategising ways to pivot her business for a post-corona era, award-winning Dubai-based designer Deborah Henning is using the lockdown offer free advice to the next generation of local fashion talent.
How are you finding the transition to a new way of working/life?
This is our fifth week at home, in some respects I’m loving the welcome break from the hectic pace I usually follow. In terms of work the flow has surprisingly continued smoothly – we have four staff working from Dubai, one from New York and one in India. I found it interesting to think that 80 per cent of what we do is based on computers, so it really doesn’t matter where the computer is sitting. The challenge will come when we enter product development season, when we need to be hands-on with developing shapes and designs and creating samples – it will be an interesting learning curve when this element of the business comes into play, but as always, we will find a way.
What have been the biggest challenges?
Not having face to face time with the team and freedom to move around is what I find most challenging, I like to see clients, interact, discuss projects over lunch meetings – it’s my style to naturally want to work collaboratively. I also miss my studio space, having a dedicated space for work and creativity I realise is a luxury.
What’s been the most pleasant surprise?
I’m enjoying the little things like having time to eat breakfast outside with a coffee, rather than at my desk. Then having the extra time that I would usually spend driving to and from the office to use more effectively for a yoga session or a workout.
What are your hopes for the future?
The hot topic of discussion now is how to pivot business, so I’m taking this time to build a strategy that makes my business more agile and international – meaning the work can be done from anywhere in the world because the infrastructure is set up accordingly. My hope is to pivot efficiently enough and keep everyone in their roles until this passes and have learnt enough to make the business more streamlined and effective while creating less of a footprint on the environment. Globally, I hope we learn from what this pandemic has taught us – the earth is a fragile place and we need to take care of it. My hope is that see the inpact this has had on the environment and we learn, instead of continuing to create the same mistakes as we have in the past.
What message do you have for Grazia readers?
Take care of your health and your mind, do things you always wanted to do and never had time, be creative, connect with family and friends – we will get through this; let’s have something show for it. Until end of June I’m running an up-and-coming programme for anyone wanting to start their own fashion business, to get involved and get free advice, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Courtesy of Deborah Henning