In focus: The Business of Beauty

Reem Abou Samra is the woman behind the chain of LaLoge salons strategically located in five-star hotels around Dubai. With a successful business model on her hands, Abou Samra’s beauty brand is on the cusp of an international expansion. Claudia de Brito catches up with her

Reem Abou Samra
Reem Abou Samra

Coming from a fashion background, Reem Abou Samra had her share of doubters when she decided to enter the realm of beauty. As a result, she concerned herself with every detail from the products and the stylists to the furniture and the lighting. She recalls: “When I started, it was challenging because it wasn't our line of business. Everyone was thinking 'Oh, she can't do it.'”

Her decision to locate the businesses in hotels was primarily practical: “First of all, it's because we needed to have male stylists. Usually in Dubai it's not allowed if you're not in a hotel. Secondly, we were looking for a prime, luxurious location. Most of the time you can find this in a hotel more than in a mall.”

Explaining why LaLoge has struck a chord with Dubai’s famously fickle crowd, Abou Samra says: “We strive to be the best in all the services, the feeling, the decoration, the products and the treatments. We want everything to be the best. For our stylists, whenever they start, they undergo very strong training to ensure that they're all at the same level. My clients say whenever we want to look the best, we have to come to LaLoge. The difference is the experience.”

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And luxury properties have started to take notice. She explains: “Hotels come to us now to take the space whenever they have availability. because they really benefit a lot. First of all, from the marketing will do with social media from the VIP clients coming in all the time. They get used to the hotel so they will do other services, they'll visit the restaurant, the spa, everything in hotel. And it gives more life to the property because people come in all the time and this demographic gives a lot of value to the hotel.”

For Abou Samra the success of her model has been to stay true to her vision: “You cannot cater for everyone. In whatever business you have, you have to choose for which level you want to cater. So it can be for anyone because the price is very reasonable. But at the same time, it should be like it's mostly for the women who like to be glamorous. 

“For the luxurious hotels, we're the only salon that fits. So that's why when it's a five-star property, they always approach us. I know I don't have competitors. It's not like other places where you go and feel like you're in a factory, or a supermarket. No, it's different. Other salons are more about quantity, not quality.”

With success comes expansion. She says: “We've started our franchise plan. So we're waiting for a good opportunity for anyone who would like to have the GCC or Europe or anywhere in the world. So now we're ready to expand. 

“Right now we have four branches. We opened recently in Caesars Palace Bluewaters, that's the most recent one. We also have The Address Montgomerie in Emirates Hills, The Address Boulevard in Downtown and Mandarin Oriental Jumeira so we're in most of the prime locations in Dubai. There's going to be a new opportunity soon. As soon as I finalise it, I will let you know.”

Last year was challenging for the service industry as a whole but Abou Samra didn’t feel the impact: “For our salon, it's still the same. We don't have this problem. Business is good but you have to keep running after it and checking all the details, all the small details so it can be there. It's not like before. It's hard work. When I'm in Dubai, I'm always in the salons and of course, I have my team who helps me.“

According to Abou Samra, her clientele isn't going anywhere: “Every woman has to go to the salon. Maybe they're going less than before but they have to do it. It's like food, you don't stop eating. Especially here in Dubai.”

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