With a number of clothes stores in Dubai, Kiran Sawlani has become a successful entrepreneur since moving to Dubai from New York in 2005. As the head buyer of Kraze and Creative Director of Deepak's Group, she has built up the business to extend across Dubai with the help of her husband, Kumar, who looks after the finances. She has worked for some of the biggest names in fashion, including Tommy Hilfiger and DKNY but tells Emirates Business about her reason for going it alone in the UAE.
How does fashion vary between New York and Dubai?
New York is very corporate and even different from the west coast cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco. In Soho there are lots of boutiques with European trends but no one mixed them with Eastern trends like we have in Dubai – I love Eastern jewellery because it's very exotic.
What can customers expect from Kraze and where do you find the clothes?
Kraze is a concept store that came to me while I was living in New York. I was going to open it in Greenwich Village but I moved here, so brought the idea with me. The store is a mix of upcoming designers from Europe and the United States mixed with local ones and ones from India who have created both day and glamourous evening wear. There's also a lifestyle section with hand-painted cushions and things for the home.
Why did you open in Dubai Outlet Mall. Is it helping to make quality fashion more affordable?
It was quite difficult to explain to malls why the boutique would work in Dubai and therefore difficult to find somewhere to open. But the Outlet Mall gave us a chance and with it has come a certain footfall that we wouldn't have had if we'd opened in a villa. We've had to make them cheaper than what they retail for in Europe, and they will also be 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than the flagship store we are looking to open elsewhere in the city. But we don't want to be mass market. We're not planning to become the next Zara or Mango – we want to remain a boutique business.
What impact has the mall had on your business?
We were one of the first stores to open last August but trade only picked up in December when more shops opened and word of mouth spread. Since then every month has been better than the last, which is helped by the fact it attracts serious shoppers and passing trade. People who have to drive that far will always buy something.
How would you describe your style?
It's trendy and colourful. When you work in fashion you can get away with more but my day look comprises of summer dresses, flip flops and oversize bags. In the evening I can't just wear a plain black dress, but it would have to have some colour or ruffles or something to make it different.