Name: Kate Kikano
Name of business: TKD Lingerie
What do you do?
We provide D-K cup women in the Middle East with great fitting lingerie, swimwear and nightwear, from everyday essentials, maternity and sports bras, to gorgeous fashion pieces.
How did you get started?
They say that only friends, family and fools invest in new businesses – so I found a fabulous combination of the above to help me out! I also did a ton of research, signed up for independent bra fitting courses, visited lingerie designers and put together a comprehensive business plan.
Who and what inspire you?
Mighty girls – there are so many women doing incredible things every day. Having a young daughter I am now more aware of gender stereotyping and want to make sure she's exposed to strong role models. www.facebook.com/amightygirl is a great resource for parents of young women.
I also love the recent Panache lingerie campaign, Modelled by Role Models. Panache selected women to represent their brand based on their achievements rather than their looks. Role models included a Paralympic athlete, a nurse aiding the fight against Ebola and a woman who ran 53 marathons in 53 days. With young women being exposed to such unattainable images of "beauty" these days, we definitely need more campaigns like this.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
It means so much…the majority of people do what they do to pay the bills at the end of the month. I realise how privileged I am to be able to do something that I love.
How do you split your time?
For the first few years I was working crazy hours; juggling babies and a brand new business meant staying up to the early hours and working most weekends. This definitely wasn't sustainable in the long term.
Three years on, we have an exceptional team, who enable me to delegate and be much more structured with work and family time. I am at my most productive in the mornings so focus on TKD then. At least 2 to 3 afternoons in the week are dedicated to my kids. I'll then spend an hour or so when they're in bed to catch up on any work I haven't had chance to complete during the day.
What is your workspace like?
It's a pull along suitcase! I divide my time between the office, in store and my desk at home. The suitcase contains everything I need to do my job. It's not glamorous but saves me a fortune at the osteopath!
What three items can't you live without?
Sadly, my smartphone. Although I do hate that it is so hard to disconnect these days, my smartphone also gives me the ability to run my business from soft play or the sandpit.
Secondly, my hairdryer. I would love to be more outdoorsy but must admit I like my home comforts too much. So if I can't plug my hairdryer in, you're unlikely to find me there!
Thirdly, once upon a time (ie before kids) my guilty pleasure was to spend the whole morning in bed (or on a sun lounger) with a good book – so my Kindle definitely makes it into the top three.
Which UAE companies do you admire?
There are so many to choose from… ARTE (http://www.arte.ae as they have created a great platform to connect crafts people with the wider community. RIPE (http://www.ripeme.com) who again have created an amazing market and community vibe. GOOD magazine (https://www.facebook.com/GoodMagazineUAE) for its brilliant content and for introducing me to places to discover, services to make my life easier and people I'd like to know!
Why is supporting small businesses so important to you?
Although globalisation brings so many benefits, it can sometimes be a little soul destroying to see the same old stores in every city you visit. Small businesses bring something unique to the mix – whether it's the product they've created, or the extra special customer service you receive.
How can the community get involved in your business?
Come, pay us a visit and have a complimentary bra fitting. We'll not only find the best size for you, but also which of our many bra styles best suits your shape. Think of it as image consultancy for the boobs… bring your old favorites and we'll advise which bras are a still doing the job and for those that no longer fit (if they're in good condition) we'll donate them to a new home.
We're always happy to get out into the community too – your antenatal group wants to know the in and outs of maternity lingerie, or you fancy talking balconnets vs bandeaus at your next coffee morning…. just offer us caffeine and we'll be there!