Starting your own business is tough — doubly so when you’re launching it in a country to which you’re still relatively new. But entrepreneur Jenny Haddad has succeeded in doing just that, nurturing her DB Babies concept from her home office to prime mall locations in Dubai almost overnight.
Haddad, originally from Yorkshire, England, moved to Dubai in 2002. She had a friend who introduced her to the idea of making baby gift baskets on the side — perfect for Haddad, who had her own baby and didn’t want to go back to a standard 9-to-5 job.
In 2007 Haddad saw a niche online for newborn gift baskets and started a website called dubaibabies.com, running it from her home for customers in Dubai only. At the time, e-commerce in Dubai was still quite uncommon.
Being a mom herself, Haddad had a unique understanding of her customers’ needs. Her site was an almost-instant hit, carrying 40 brands and over 400 products. Within a year those same fans led her to open up distribution beyond Dubai to the entire United Arab Emirates (UAE). Today, Haddad is focusing on new opportunities in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Shortly after its founding, DB Babies began using FedEx for U.S. imports. Haddad says, “As I recognized styles and products changing rapidly, the benefits of flexibility and speed of service offered by FedEx became critical to our success.”
Today you can pick up any guidebook to Dubai and quickly discover that malls are among the kingdom’s top attractions. Dubai malls sport indoor snow skiing and golf ranges, and one mall is even nestled at the base of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Gigantic, opulent malls the size of small towns dot the Dubai landscape, and with summer temperatures often soaring to 115° Fahrenheit (46° Celsius) you can understand the appeal of being indoors.
Why is this important? Because the majority of DB Babies transactions occur in physical stores. In fact, 80 percent of DB Babies sales are in malls. While Haddad’s online store was a great way to get a foothold in the market, in order to get fully established and grow in Dubai, there had to be a physical presence.
In the company’s second year, Haddad opened her first retail store location in Dubai, and within eight months the demand led her to open a second, effectively tripling her staff.
Haddad notes that as her business has grown, next-day delivery to Saudi Arabia has really helped grow her company’s reputation as dependable and responsive. DB Babies now sits poised for more international expansion, generating jobs and opportunities in the UAE and beyond.