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Sara Al Madani on How To Succeed In The Face of Demoralizing Adversity

She started her first business at the age of 15, and her fashion label is still running today.

Sara Al Madani is a well-known Emirati fashion designer, partner in a tech company and owner of a creative consultancy. She is the youngest board member at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry and also sits on the board of the UAE SME Council. Sara has won numerous awards and is a passionate advocate for women in business.  We met at Dubai’s bustling Youth Hub for this recording.

Sara started her first business at the age of 15 after declaring financial independence from her bewildered parents. She amassed enough money to start a fashion label by doing odd jobs and selling her belongings. She bought and resold goods and, against her parent’s wishes, did promotional work for soft drinks companies in a mall. 17 years later Sara is still running her fashion business to provide stylish and unique abayas (traditional wear of Gulf Arab women) as well as turning her hand to many other businesses.

But it hasn’t all been easy. Sara has faced opposition from the start and has suffered setbacks along the way. Her determination and faith have helped fuel her success as she’s struggled with stereotypes, bankruptcy and divorce. “I take ownership of failure,” is her approach. Sara’s optimism and energy are highly contagious. We discussed her thoughts on “women empowerment”, on how to raise boys and on the positive impact of women in boardrooms. My favorite quote was “I am a mango tree. I only want mango-lovers to come to me.”

You can find Sara on Instagram @sara_almadani and LinkedIn.