From automobile to perfumery: Amna Al Habtoor’s journey

Rupkatha Bhowmick

I wanted to break away from the safety net and challenge myself to create something of my own, says Amna Al Habtoor, founder of home-grown niche perfumery brand Arcadia.

From the world of automobile to creating fragrances, Al Habtoor has done it all. Moving over from the family business, Al Habtoor Motors, she has given her passion a concrete shape by creating her own fragrance brand Arcadia in 2017. What’s more, she has aced the art of infusing personal milestones with the business. In fact, the scent that she is incredibly proud of is ‘Infinity’, which she developed as a giveaway for guests on her wedding…Fast forward to 2020, Arcadia has created a strong retail presence, online and offline, regionally and internationally.

How do you break down gender barriers and biases through your scents?

From the beginning, I wanted to create a brand for everyone – irrespective of gender, religion, social background. I wanted Arcadia to be unique but not intimidating and that’s reflected by our pricing, packaging and the perfumes – inspired by narratives from real life.

How do you support other women – through advice and your own example – to fulfil their entrepreneurial dreams?

I always tell women – be that family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances – to stay true to their vision and passion. Of course, I also feel that its best to start small, because all of us aren’t equally blessed with a safety net. Having that said, if there is a will, there is definitely a way to build it up. So many home-grown businesses in the UAE – run by women and men – have started from home, on Instagram.

As a successful woman entrepreneur, how do you encourage male and female colleagues?

I have challenged a lot of things, because my father encouraged me. I have worked in an automobile business, which is male dominated. But my father was convinced it’s something that I can do. My husband is also a huge role model for me, who has equally encouraged me to start my own business. I wouldn’t have been in this position without them. I try to motivate my male and female colleagues citing my own story. Having that said, every person must have the fire within them to go forward.

What kind of strengths do women bring to a business?

Women bring a sense of sensitivity, a sense of feeling to a business. Typically, people would say buying a car is a male thing; women don’t really care. Actually, women put in a lot of thought and passion even when buying a car, thinking about the future of the car and its purpose. That’s the kind of sensitivity women bring to any business – be that food, automobile or perfumes. We have that little depth within us, to think of and create great experiences.

In life and business, is there a woman who inspires you a lot?

In life, my mother who passed away a very long time ago, is my inspiration. She was a very strong and independent woman who pushed us to believe in ourselves and confidently move forward in life. Her aside, there are so many other women – doing such amazing things – who inspire me tremendously.