The region's most successful female entrepreneurs reveal the women who inspire them

The region's most successful female entrepreneurs reveal the women who inspire them

As 8 March marks International Women’s Day, the region’s most successful female entrepreneurs in fashion, music, sport and film reveal who inspires them to succeed.

Ghizlan Guenez

Ghizlan Guenez - Founder, The Modist

“I’m inspired by Mona Kattan; she’s an amazing entrepreneur from our region. I love how she shows that you can be a real boss, build a billion- dollar business and not lose your femininity and soft side. We haven’t met, but we’ve exchanged a few messages on social media. It is nice to see that leadership, being a feminist and being a strong determined entrepreneur doesn’t just mean power suits or a masculine attitude, which is what many career women had to do in the past in order to assert themselves in a male-dominated world. We can and should be ourselves, embrace who we are and our truth.”

Michelle Kuehn

Michelle Kuehn - Founder, Real Boxing Only

“When I look back over the biggest parts of my career, I would say I have been inspired by my friend, boss, mentor and business partner, Jill Downie. I am a few years younger than her and I was her first employee at her PR company she started nearly 10 years ago in Dubai. Her never-take-no-for-an-answer business approach was inspiring. She showed me that starting a business is never easy, and that if you want it, then you ask for it, and negotiate until they tire of you; but most of all, that you can do anything you set your mind to. She has helped me to become a strong, independent businesswoman all on my own, and now I’m proud to manage a business in a male-dominated industry.”

Mariam Yeya

Mariam Yeya - Fashion designer

“I have always been inspired by Princess Diana. I relate so much, on a personal level, to how she evolved from a young girl to a strong, confident and unapologetically herself woman. And yet she always stayed sweet. It inspires me how she remained true to herself despite societal pressure and constant media attention. She didn’t care to fit in and abide by the rules just to please the majority. Diana is my constant reminder that unfair situations and people shouldn’t change you into a bitter person. As well as this, her style was flawless, a timeless mix of glamour and class. She is missed.”

Layla Kardan 

Layla Kardan - Singer and songwriter

“My best friend and soul sister, Fatima Asad Bakhtiari is a constant source of inspiration for me. She is not only a leader in her field (finance), she also stands out as a woman in a male-dominated industry, where she dares to stay true to her boisterous and bold character and challenges her peers and clients to do the same. She’s constantly exploring the world for all its beauty and seeking out spiritually uplifting experiences in order to really connect with the world and the people in it. Her dedication to living her best life and encouraging the people around her to step into their true power is so beautiful to witness. She’s a gift to this world.”

 Butheina Kazim

Butheina Kazim - Founder, Cinema Akil

Diane Pernet – an artist, creator, an original and a friend – is my inspiration. We met at Fashion Forward Dubai and I instantly knew she was a woman of great individuality and empathy. Since I joined the jury of fashion film festival ASVOFF [A Shaded View on Fashion Film] in Paris many years ago, we’ve waited for films in long lines at Cannes and exchanged many meaningful conversations. With a commitment to uphold conviction and truth with equal measure, Diane is a show of power, commitment to creation, wit and talent that is timeless and resilient.”

Photos: Getty Images and supplied