Sumayyah Al Suwaidi: Artistic Entrepreneur
Hailed as the first Emirati digital artist, Sumayyah Al Suwaidi started her artistic journey back in 2001 with a series of digital paintings inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan.
In 2007, she established career for herself as an art curator and since then went on to curate many shows as the annual artistic event “Ramadan Art Bazaar”.
Sumayyah Al Suwaidi is also a successful business woman, as she owns the very famous multi-brand fashion stores in Abu Dhabi “Grafika”. She supports established and emerging fashion designers by providing them space to showcase and sell their creations.
Gergana Mineva of Dubai Chronicle had the opportunity to interview the artistic entrepreneur ahead of the 2011 Arab Woman of the Year Award that will be held in Abu Dhabi.
Part one of the exclusive interview reveals an only fraction of a life journey.
Q.: You are famous for your creativity and innovative approach to artistic venture. What is your personal style signifier?
A.: My style signifier is my taste, I have been depended on it all my life in everything I choose, from the projects I decide to take on board to artworks I plan to exhibit.
Q.: You have started as a digital artist and reinvented yourself as curator, and lately as a fashion designer. What is your latest venture in the artistic world?
A.: You missed out the reinvention of me as an entrepreneur, and I believe I can’t be one without the others, because I am all those four personalities in my everyday life, I manage my boutique, create artworks, design dresses and curate art exhibitions on a daily basis, but my most important role, which is not mentioned here is my role as a wife and a mother.
Now, I have a few art projects in hand, but what I am looking for is by next year to curate an Emirati group art exhibition internationally.
Q.: Are your friends and relatives supportive of your efforts?
A.: Yes, they are, they attend my exhibitions, launches of new brands at my store. They wear my brand, and they watch and read all my interviews and features.
Q.: How does it feel to be an entrepreneur in Abu Dhabi?
A.: It feels great, especially now when Abu Dhabi is developing so fast. I feel, I am part of this development, because my store not only has established brands, but also it acts as a platform for young emerging fashion and accessory designers and this only shows our development and how far we have reached especially in the creative industry.
Q.: If you have an opportunity, would you like to change or improve anything within the local business environment?
A.: Yes, of course, many things to be honest. To open a business is a huge step, but unfortunately here, especially in Abu Dhabi, it is so complicated, and it has so many terms and conditions. So, to keep up with all the rules and regulations a person needs patience and strong will.
Q.: Do you feel it would be difficult to judge other women entrepreneurs in the upcoming Arab Women of the Year Awards?
A.: It is not difficult at all, because I became an entrepreneur on my own without anyone’s help. I know exactly how difficult it is and what measure should be taken. So, when I judge, I do it from personal experience. Appreciating someone who started from scratch is not the same, as appreciate one who has been given the opportunity on a golden plate, and I know it whole heartedly.
Q.: . What one can find in your own closet, apart from abayas? Designer clothes from your own multibrand stores “Grafika” or your very own creations, or something else?
A.: In my closet, you will find abayas and dresses from Grafika. I support the designers who sell their creations in my store, so I only wear from them, even my bags and accessories. Now, that I have launched my own fashion line “SEEN”, I have started wearing my own creations of limited edition abayas and dresses, because I believe if I do not wear what I sell then no one will.
Q.: We know you are frequently attending art and fashion events, how do you keep yourself-informed about it? Where do you search for information, listings?
A.: Well, I keep myself updated through the web and also through my connections and the network of people I know, from fashion designers to artists, from all nationalities and backgrounds. I also read a lot of weekly magazines like Ahlan, Masala and TimeOut. So, I am always up to date with what’s happening around me.
To be continued in Part two…