Meeting One Of Dubai’s Inspring Mamas!
Femke Speelman is a Dutch mama of three gorgeous kiddos and founder of Phemke Resort Wear, a fashion line that’s ethically made, made from the highest quality natural materials and created to empower women, local communities and artisanal craftsmanship around the world (BIG HIGH FIVE TO THAT!). Femke chats to us about everything from juggling her work with family life to those magical moments that make her feel a little more sane (the first cup of coffee after dropping the kids at school for example!).
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
Entrepreneurship is in my genes and it’s always been my dream to start my own business. Having been a brand manager from the start of my career my expertise is creating and launching new concepts and brands into the market. Add to that a touch of adventure and you’ll understand I am very much in my element doing what I am doing now. Running Phemke allows me to be creative and every day I am challenged which I thrive on. Basically I can combine everything I love: travel, fashion, photography, adventure, and making customers happy by creating beautiful accessories and clothes.
Tell us about your husband and kids
My husband and I have three beautiful, healthy and adventurous girls, 6, 4 and 2 years of age. They were all born in the UAE and my husband and I try to give them a great start in life by showing and teaching them about different countries and cultures. We love to go camping in the desert, swimming in the ocean, visiting the zoo and learning about animals and visiting unknown places. My husband is a lawyer and despite the fact we have very different ways of working we make a great team.
Where do you live in Dubai?
We have lived in three different places in Dubai: Arabian Ranches, Victory Heights and Jumeirah Park with Victory Heights as our absolute favourite due to the running tracks, parks, Els Club and proximity to the girls’ school which is Victory Heights Primary School. We have recently relocated back to the Netherlands after 7 years of happiness in Dubai.
Describe yourself in 5 words
Ambitious, determined, entrepreneurial, adventurous and loyal
How do you balance work and motherhood?
Having your own business makes it easier to for example pick up the kids from school and take them to their sports classes. The pitfall of being your own boss and being an entrepreneur is that work never stops and there’s a risk of being on your phone the whole time. I try to limit the time I work to the mornings and evenings, when the kids are at school/nursery and in bed (but it’s not easy and sometimes it doesn’t work like that due to deadlines and urgent matters!).
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
I always think twice before I schedule meetings because they eat up a lot of my time (especially with the traffic!). I either schedule meetings early mornings straight after pick up or late mornings, just before pick up. And sometimes a lot can be done by phone or courier. I try to have at least one day in the office without any meetings or interruptions, as a mum you learn to work very efficiently!
Describe your average day
On the days my husband is taking the kids to school I dive straight into my office and start replying to emails and e.g. sending proposals to resorts. Being a mum of three school runs and sports eat up a lot of time but thank god for Whatsapp! Most of my suppliers but also customers are on Whatsapp and throughout the day I am communicating with them and I am checking my emails constantly. An average day usually also includes meetings with our resellers (mostly the high-end resorts) as I like to keep close contact with my customers.
If you were stranded on a desert island – which 3 children’s items would you not be able to live without?
The girls’ detangling brush, shampoo and conditioner! I’d love to go back to the basics and off the grid and please bring on the challenge to live with just what the island would give us but not without these three items! The girls’ hair is a nightmare and tangles very quickly. If I don’t have these three items they’ll end up with blonde dreadlocks (myself included!).
Read More: Happy Campers, Camping In The UAE (& Beyond)
Favourite activity with your kids in Dubai?
Definitely camping in the desert.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Dubai?
Dream family vacation?
Hiring a camper van in New Zealand. Camping, exploring, hiking, swimming and a beautiful scenery….I don’t think you can make us any happier than that.
Read more: 5 Last Minute Travel Deals For Spring Break!
Favourite date-night restaurants?
My favourite is Asian food: Tong Thai if we have something to celebrate (try their cocktails with chili, coriander and ginger, mouthwatering good!) and Hanoi in JLT if we want to order a table full of authentic, affordable Vietnamese food (and don’t forget to order a Vietnamese coffee afterwards).
Read more: Dubai’s Hottest New Restaurants
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Nobody knows what they’re doing really, just do whatever makes you and the kids happy. There’s no right or wrong.
Who is your hero or heroine and why?
My dad, a true entrepreneur and my source of inspiration. Sadly he passed away in 2016 and I miss him every day. I wish I could ask his advice and I would have loved his help with making the right business decisions.
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
In my previous corporate job I had to launch and give presentations for hundreds of people throughout the region. Being 6 months pregnant and at the end of a long series of launches my exhaustion caused my voice to break….I had to get off the stage to get some water. The whole presentation was such a struggle and so embarrassing!
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Live in the moment more and enjoy the girls thoroughly instead of thinking about work all the time.
Read More: Dubai’s Best Outdoor Play Areas
My most humbling mama moment was…
When you have babies you have so many humbling moments…these beautiful little miracles that are totally dependent on you. The fact that they wouldn’t survive without you being there taking care of them is the most humbling and at the same time grateful and proud feeling in the world.
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
Work! I want to be a good role model for my girls and I think it’s important to make them see mummy is working hard to achieve her goals and follow her dream of becoming a very successful business owner. My ultimate dream is to create a global business in which they can have internships and jobs and eventually take over if they want to.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Luckily I don’t wake up in the middle of the night unless my children wake me up!
Even when my children have families of their own, I’ll still…
Be there to help them where needed. I know how wonderful it is when you get help from your parents with babysitting, school runs and sleep-overs so that you can enjoy some quality time with your husband without the children.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Coming home after the school run making myself a nice cup of coffee.
I always feel saner after…
Exercising! So little time but so much needed!
I wish I had more time for…
Sooooo many things!! Holidays, exercising, working, creating photobooks of our holiday pictures, reading a book, cooking and the list goes on and on. Maybe one day when the girls are in their twenties and all the hard work has paid off I can finally enjoy days without running around like a mad woman!