From working at MAC Cosmetics in India to launching her own, independent athleisure store in the centre of Dubai, Priya Bhatia has had quite the career upheaval.
Just over a year ago, the Dubai-born entrepreneur opened Hautletic - a multibrand boutique that stocks cool, high-performance activewear from 12 luxury brands - and here’s why...
“When I moved back to Dubai I took six months off and was working out a lot. In that time I was living in workout clothes because I was doing a morning and evening workout," Priya explains. "I realised I was buying clothes that were available - I wasn’t buying things I really loved being in all day. All the black leggings were so basic so I began researching alternatives as a consumer. I realised there was a whole market that was completely untapped, so I decided it was time to bite the bullet and open my own store.” Pretty aspirational stuff, right?
Now one of the pioneers behind modest performance wear, Priya tells us she focuses on stocking conservative workout outfits for modern women of the region. “I’m also always looking for pieces that get you to and from the gym. It’s still a challenge, to be honest, to find the right modest pieces. I stock fewer crop tops and more coverups because it’s what women want. And they want lots of long-sleeved, breathable tops.” Noted.
Looking forward, Priya’s next move is to launch online, a project set to complete in the coming weeks. “I’m finalising the website now. I don’t necessarily believe that retail in the Middle East requires more than one store and an online avenue anymore. It’s the winning formula. I also plan to be the first contemporary fashion store to offer instalment-plan payments."
And what brands are Hautletic looking forward to welcoming next? “We’re bringing in a selection of Norma Kamali that people haven’t seen before, in my opinion. She does a phenomenal range of athleisure – she’s not just the legendary swimsuits."
Outside of work, exercise is, unsurprisingly, at the core of Priya’s schedule. She plays tennis twice a week and attends Barry’s Bootcamp as a form of strength training. But what Grazia wants to know is what Priya works out in. “It’s all about a great pair of leggings. There’s a return to investing in quality and timeless pieces versus having a lot of things you would only wear once or twice," she muses. "I have two favourties: Ultracor and Michi. The moment you put them on you think, “I have to have them,” because there is a marked quality difference in their feel.”
We’re feeling you, Priya, that's for sure.
Photos: Hautletic Instagram and supplied