The Founder and President of Etoile Group, who also has her own luxury label Ingie Paris, is certainly a fashion force to be reckoned with in this region and beyond. Here Ingie Chalhoub gives an honest account of the present retail landscape along with her hopes for a more compassionate future.
How are you finding the transition to a new way of working/life?
It was a very abrupt and sudden overnight transition as we are facing a globally unprecedented crisis - though we acted quickly to organise and prepare all our teams to work remotely and effectively, ensuring that necessary sanitary measures were implemented immediately to protect all of our team members and guarantee their safety. Personally, I have been used to working remotely with my teams between Paris and Dubai so for me it was not such a drastic change to my daily routine. I can now work at my own pace, spend more time with my family and enjoy this connection without distractions and complicated agenda arrangements, exercise daily and practice mindfulness. The COVID-19 pandemic has totally remodelled how teams work, but we also recognise many advantages, the empowerment that this provides team members, as well as in terms of time management, agility and efficiency with the added benefit of spending more quality time with family members without interruptions.
What have been the biggest challenges?
I have lived through wars but this one is one of a kind, not knowing who your enemy is or how to fight it. Taking sanitary steps without knowing exactly how effective they are, then having to overcome the constant changes in the flow of information and fake news, then navigating through troubled waters and different scenarios ranging from very optimistic to very pessimistic. One of the biggest challenges of this crisis is the economic and social ones that would follow with a lack of visibility in the short, medium and long-term. We cannot indeed predict what would happen from one day to the next making it very difficult to take the necessary steps and ensure continuity in the business, adapting to a constantly changing environment while ensuring all regulations and sanitary measures are followed.
What has been the most pleasant surprise?
The solidarity of human beings worldwide, it has been extremely heartwarming both on a personal and professional level, with everyone coming together to do what they can to help each other, checking on one another and taking care of each other. This overwhelming display of kindness I believe will stay with us and will be a very positive aspect that we will take away from this crisis. It is amazing to witness the team spirit, everyone working together towards a common goal, collaborating, and supporting each other. We are all sharing the same enemy for the first time, which is unheard of in our lifetime until now.
What are your hopes for the future?
I really hope that we are able to overcome this pandemic safe and healthy, although the tragic loss of life and suffering worldwide is already huge, we must prepare ourselves for the global economic and social crisis that will inevitably follow. This is an enormous threat to our livelihoods and our day to day lifestyle and I very much hope that our heightened values, increased awareness will help us focus on social responsibility, sustainability and our duty to preserve our planet for future generations. This crisis has been a real eye-opener and the wake-up call that we need to take better care of our planet and better care of one another.
What message do you have for Grazia readers?
Enjoy every day as it comes, because tomorrow is another day. Enjoy every minute we are blessed with. I think if this lockdown and pandemic has taught us anything, it is kindness, to devote our time to those we love, and to be kinder to ourselves and one another.
Photos: Courtesy of Ingie Chalhoub