An inspirational story of success, Miranda is CEO or ‘Chief Mum’ of Family Souk Ventures and mama to 5 year old Mia, balancing a hectic work life with maintaining a stable home and a commitment to keeping Fridays as a ‘sacred family day’. Already hugely successful, Miranda says she hasn’t achieved all that she would like in her career – we foresee more great things to come mamas!
Name: Miranda Hilton
Occupation: CEO Chief Mum, Family Souk Ventures
Children: Mia, age 5
Nationality: British (but consider myself an Aussie, as that’s home!)
How long have you lived in Dubai? 6 years
1) Tell us about your businesses and why you started them.
I acquired BabySouk.com three years ago as I felt that the founders had done fantastic job with the business and loved the products. I saw a gap in the market for a high quality brand focused online site, run by parents who genuinely understand and can empathise with other parents’ journeys. Having worked in a different industry previously, I wanted a new challenge but one I could be connected to emotionally.
This year, we have merged with BubsBoutique.com which was formed at the same time as BabySouk.com and has two wonderful mothers as founders, who will now take the merged entity to the next level as BabySouk.com. They, and all those who work in the business, genuinely care about what we do and making a difference. It’s so much fun to be a part of a group of people who think like that.
In 2012, we saw a gap in the market for a credible, knowledgeable and passionate brand distributor- there is so much innovation in the baby, mother and child sector and a lot of brands who want to be represented in the Middle East but only by people who believe in their brand and will manage it carefully. So we, myself and joint venture partner Xebec VP, formed Family Souk Ventures. We are really privileged to represent phil&teds, Mountain Buggy, BeatrixNY, mybrestfriend, Cuddledry and Boba with a couple of new awesome brands joining us soon. This is now my core focus operationally.
2) What do you feel have been your biggest achievements both in your personal life and career so far?
Personally, as a child of separated parents when I was quite young with a father who I adored but didn’t get to see enough growing up, I made a fair few mistakes in relationships and personal choices generally. But after meeting my husband, my life suddenly fitted and felt right. I would have to say getting through that journey and also believing that ‘true love’ existed was my biggest achievement personally and then I was blessed to become a mum.
Career-wise, I don’t feel like I have really yet achieved what I want to… but I feel I’ve been brave by breaking away from a legal career path early on. One of the best achievements now has to be having the opportunity to work with such a wonderful team and business partners. I don’t know how it happened, but they’re so talented whilst being lovely people too. And working with phil&teds and Mountain Buggy – they are such an innovative yet such a ‘real’ company run by parents who just ‘get it’ and have created therefore a brand which feels accessible. But until they are retailed in all the stores they should be in and until everyone in the ME wants one, I won’t feel like I have achieved my mission!!
3) As a child what did you dream of being when you grew up?
I wanted to be a vet or a doctor; or on the stage!
4) If you had three wishes, what would they be?
I have always imagined what I would say if I got to rub the magic genie lamp! Definitely number one would be to add to our family and have a sibling for our daughter Mia, to wake up one morning 10 kilos lighter and being able to run and finally to have our business and amazing team loved by parents across the Middle East!
5) What does being a Sassy Mama mean to you?
Challenging myself and challenging the norm, whilst also remembering the greatest gift I ever have been given – being a mum to a wonderful little girl.
Wake up at 6.15 to 6.30am – head downstairs, cup of tea, turn on laptop, work for an hour to answer emails from suppliers overseas; get ready and head to work around 8am. Work in the warehouse/office until around 4 or 5pm on a good day so I can get back to hang out with Mia and have an early dinner with her. Put her to bed and then laptop on lap until about 10pm. That’s during the week. Weekends, I treat Friday as a sacred family day and on Saturdays I will always work either a full or a half day while keeping my evenings free.
7) What’s your guilty pleasure?
I’m embarrassed to say TV. I find it such escapism and watch either Made In Chelsea and TOWIE or get immersed in a great series like The Killing, or right now Hostages which I am loving.
8) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in your personal life and career?
The best advice I tend to not follow: I know often there are so many things I shouldn’t be doing and I continue to! But I think overall, “Be true to yourself and don’t make decisions based on what other people think of you – follow your own path.”
9) What do you most enjoy doing as a family in Dubai?
Swimming every weekend and pretending we’re on holiday, going for brekkie at Lime Tree or one of the new cool eateries popping up like Tom & Serg, taking the dogs for a walk. Mia also loves Yo Sushi or ‘the sushi train’, as she calls it!
10) What is the ‘best-kept’ secret in Dubai, something fellow mamas should know about?
Nkd pizza has the healthiest pizza around! THey also offers gluten free version for mamas with wheat issues and you don’t feel too guilty ordering it. Aside from food, I have to mention our GP, Dr Fischer at Cooper Clinic; and Sharon at Salon Ink – the most amazing hairdresser (although the wait list may now be even longer, so I should have perhaps kept that a secret!).
11) Which three words best describe your personality?
Determined, passionate and thirsty!
12) What advice would you have for a new mama?
You’re doing a great job just by getting up in the morning! We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect new mums and it’s hard work. The first three months with Mia were the hardest of my life and I longed to be back at my desk, as I found the routine and lack of ‘me ‘and ‘husband and wife time’ tough.
But also be prepared; I’m not a planner in my personal life so I didn’t go to any ante-natal classes and thought I would do all the baby shopping when the baby came along. I would not do that again! Try and make time for yourself – get your nails done or have a massage – it’s so important to remember yourself and who you are!
13) What advice would you give to a mama who wants to go back to work or start her own business, but is worried about juggling family and career?
You have to have a support network and really think it through. It is hard in the Middle East as part time work is tough to find and to start a business, you need to set up a proper company with a license which requires a decent amount of investment from the get-go. Imagine the business being successful when you are considering if you have the time to support it.
Find your niche – think cleverly about what you feel the market is lacking… and don’t follow the pack unless you’re really sure you can do what everyone else is doing 10 times better. That’s what will fuel your business. And remember that you can’t do it all, you will need in-home help as there are times where you can’t leave that important meeting.
14) If you were on an island and could bring only three things (family not included) what would they be?
Is there connectivity? If so, a Blackberry (have not made the switch to the fruity side yet!); a towel (dual purpose) and Bear Grylls!
15) Top three books?
Losing my virginity by Richard Branson – for ultimate inspiration; Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist – for perspective; and anything James Patterson to get completely lost in when on holiday!
16) Describe your style.
I would love to have the time for more fashion actually, but I would say it’s functional and quick with a little bit of 1950s thrown in there every now and then!
17) If there was a movie produced about your life, who would you choose to play you and why?
Love these questions! Tough toss up between Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett… probably Kate Winslet because she seems real, determined and hardworking. And she would get to have Christmas with Richard Branson, being married to his nephew, which I would love!!!!
18) Tell us something funny that your kids have said or done
“Mummy, isn’t it funny when Oscar (our male dog) shakes on top of Maxi (our female dog) – they’re so silly!” That was one of Mia’s most recent observations! She’s always singing or dancing and makes us laugh when she sings Katy Perry’s Roar at the top of her voice.