Empowering women, transforming communities: The rise of female-led businesses in Times Square Center

April 22, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau

Nancy Nese Ozbek, General Manager, Times Square Center

In its central Dubai location, Times Square Center stands not just as a retail destination, but as a testament to the power of female entrepreneurship in shaping vibrant community spaces.

The mall has become a thriving hub where female-led businesses flourish, accounting for a significant 65% of vendor businesses. From boutique shops to cafés, these enterprises are not only driving economic growth but also fostering a sense of community and empowerment.

With a strong focus and appreciation for locally based and female-owned businesses, Times Square Center’s General Manager, Nancy Ozbek has been at the core of this expansion and revolution, encouraging women to open their outlets, and actively seeking out such enterprises to host within the Center.

For instance, Eggs & Soldiers, owned and founded by Sofi Chabowski, has become not only a go-to destination for parents seeking unique and sustainable fashion, toys, development and educational options for little ones, but also provides a workshop space vital for local independent service providers to conduct sessions and classes for the family community.

StuDIYo Lab is another home-grown UAE success story, within Times Square Founded by Lina Sadek, StuDIYo Lab is a design and technology centre for kids, with the aim of nurturing their skills through interactive learning Owned by Briton Kay Robinson, The Makers Guild supports the ‘shop local’ movement offering a range of handmade, sustainable and unique products made by local artisans and designers now beloved by residents and tourists alike.

Other female owned businesses within Time Square Center include The Confidence Lab, Citron, Wild Roots, Picasso Artist, Kata and Asana, Latin Fit/Zumba Wear, Sweet Spot and Baby Eats – all of which contribute hugely to the ‘family’ feel of the mall and Ozbek’s ethos of empowering women in business and giving mall visitors the variety and options they need.

Asked what she thinks has set Times Square Center apart from other retail spaces, Ozbek said, “At Times Square Center we are not just a retail space but genuinely consider ourselves a family that share the same values and beliefs. We’ve realised that our strength really is in the communities that support us, whether that be our tenants or our customers. There is so much value in adapting, in order to offer our customers a space that they feel safe and comfortable in. Parents can drop their kids off at Adventure HQ for a little wall climbing while they relax over a hot beverage at one of our inviting coffee shops, before stocking up on farm-fresh fruits and vegetables and artisanal clothing, toys and gifts – and maybe grabbing a couple of books from the second-hand bookstore on their way out. And since Viva launched in our mall, we really have become a one-stop-shop offering busy families everything that they might need. Times Square Center is a very special place, and we are so proud of everything that we have achieved in the past two years. We look forward to seeing what the next five years hold.”

As of today, Times Square Center offers a healthy lifestyle, education and sustainable practices to the community, and this success is proven via the high growth in footfall the mall now enjoys – an increased growth of around 25%. As Ozbek looks after the Center’s newest development, Picnic Square, she introduced its unique aim to become the “beating heart” of the mall and one stop shop for all.

Ozbek’s strategy and planning has led to Times Square Center evolving from a traditional shopping centre to a family experiential community centre. Looking ahead, when asked about what the next two years has in store for Times Square Center, Ozbek’s aim is to work closely as a group of establishments that are designed, planned, developed, owned, marketed and leased in order to achieve overall success for everyone.

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