A dynamic Dubai mama business duo.
A real life story that reads more like a movie script, these mamas worked independently all across the globe, from Beverley Hills to Cairo, one with a career in hair and the other in International Development. Andrea was Lindsey’s hair stylist – they got on, they had a vision and the rest, as they say, is history and Be Bar Blow Dry Bar was born. With 4.5 children between them (Lindsey is pregnant with her 3rd), they juggle an amazing business with a heap of other stuff – and this is how they do it.
photos courtesy of the amazing Steph at Nektar
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
Andrea: I started doing hair when I was 16, and I have never looked back. I feel so fortunate that I have been able to do a job that never feels like a job!
There is something magical about taking a woman’s natural beauty and giving her the ability to see it for herself, by doing something as simple as a blow dry.
I started my hair career in Oklahoma, and then moved on to Beverly Hills, where I was so lucky to have the rare opportunity to apprentice for the incredibly talented Jose Eber and Laurent St Cricq. LA is where I really got the styling bug. I had the opportunity to work at the Playboy mansion for numerous shoots and parties, and I was involved in many fashion shows and photo shoots. I also took some time to study in London at the Vidal Sassoon Academy, which was such an important part of my professional education and ultimately my personal life…as it was during this trip that I met my husband and the father of my two beautiful children.
Andrea was my hairdresser… and next thing you know… we’re laying the foundations of Be Bar.
Lindsey: Before launching Be Bar, I worked for 12 years in international development. I was initially based in Washington, DC and in 2005 had the opportunity to move to Cairo for a year to work on a health project there. While living there, I met my husband, Michael, so it turned out to be a great assignment for both my professional and personal life. We returned to DC for a few years so that Michael could complete his Masters, and when he graduated, we headed back to the Middle East, this time to Dubai. I was able to continue to work for the same development firm, so I was managing several large Eastern European governance projects from my home here in Dubai. I continued to do that for 6 years, but as I had children, the odd hours and extensive travel became a real challenge. I was interested in making a change and thought my project management experience would translate well into managing my own business.
Andrea and I have very complementary skills, and we picked up on that from the very beginning. While our skills are different, we have a similar drive and passion for excellence, and our vision throughout the process has always been the same. We wanted to create a really unique place in Dubai where customer service, quality product, and positive energy were the highest priorities.
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
A: Before I had children I was doing freelance hair for 6 years where I had a lot of flexibility with my job and was able to travel with my husband whenever he had business trips or we just wanted to take a holiday.
When my first baby, Ella, was born I took a few weeks off work to get into the swing of being a mama, but I became restless pretty fast, so one haircut turned into two and then some highlights… Before I knew it, I was back up and running. It was so easy to do a client around feeding and naps, and working gave me a little bit of ‘me time’, with the comfort that my baby was just in the other room.
I had been wanting to open a concept like Be Bar for years and years, but it was just never the right timing, so when Ella was almost one I felt it was time for me to do something more challenging with my career.
Lindsey was one of my lovely clients, and one day while doing her hair we decided that we would make a great partnership for opening a business, and the concept of Be Bar was born. I soon found out that I was pregnant with Oliver, but that didn’t slow me down. It took us about a year to open the salon, and we did all of this with the help of nannies and kids in tow.
I had Oliver 4 weeks after we opened Be Bar, which I won’t lie, was really hard.
I honestly don’t think I really realized that I was having a baby until the day before I had him. We were organising our launch party and having magazine shoots, and training the staff just weeks before I had him, so it was a crazy time! I still don’t know how I managed it, but I did. Oliver, Be Bar, and I all managed to survive, and a year later, I feel like I am finally getting better at the juggling act, not perfect, but better. I guess I am still trying to get into the swing of things, and it’s just a learning process every day.
L: I took short maternity leave breaks from my former job after each of my first two children was born. I was lucky that I worked from home, so I was able to spend a lot of time with them and managed a lot of work obligations when they were sleeping. When I had to travel, I occasionally took them with me.
My son went with me to Bosnia when he was 6 months old and my daughter traveled with me to Zambia when she was just 4 months.
I had to take other trips without them, which was especially difficult while I was still breastfeeding, but with some support from my family and nanny, we were able to manage.
Launching the salon was full on, but fortunately, Andrea also has small children, so we were very understanding of working around each other’s schedules.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
A: Does any working mother ever really successfully balance work and children? I think it’s more a juggling act that takes a lot of practice, a lot of planning, and a lot of support. I thrive in a structured environment, as I feel like this helps me to “balance” home, work, and marriage. I know exactly what time my kids will sleep every day, so I can work during those times, and Tom and I can go out for dates in the evening. We also meal plan every week, so that dinner is enjoyable and not a mad dash to the grocery store with grumpy kids (we have all been there).
It’s a far cry from the days without kids, when life was spontaneous, but I wouldn’t change a thing. This is how I make it work.
L: To be honest, I think I juggle more than balance. It’s definitely a work in progress. Good time management and overall life organization is key for me, and those are things I’m really working on improving in order for my life to feel less chaotic. As a working mom, I tend to feel like I do neither job as well as I could/should. I have a feeling a lot of moms feel this way though, and I try to remind myself that it’s okay. I’m doing my best, and as long as my kids are happy and healthy, I’m succeeding at this parenting thing. My mom worked full-time, and I have great memories of my childhood and a close relationship with her, so I think moms definitely feel the stress more than the kids.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
A: I am very structured with the kids’ schedule. This allows me to schedule meetings and work around their naps.
L: I rely heavily on my iPhone; it helps me productively utilise time when I’m out and about. I book everything in my phone calendar – meetings, appointments, kids’ activities, and even school pick/up drop off transit times – so that I can better plan for and utilize the chunks of time in between. We can monitor the salon schedule from an app on our phones, which also allows us to know what’s going on in the salon in real time. We have a WhatsApp group with our salon staff as well as with individual vendors, so we can all stay on the same page, which makes communicating more efficient.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Dubai?
A: People say that “anything worth doing in life, isn’t easy”. I would agree with this. Marriage isn’t always easy. Kids aren’t always easy. But they are also the greatest sources of joy, laughter, and pride. I think that setting up a business definitely falls in this category. It’s probably one of the hardest things I have ever done, but also one of the best for so many reasons. I feel so lucky that I have always loved my career in hair. Not one day since I was 16 have I regretted choosing this career path. I really believe the saying ” Do what you love, and never work a day in your life”. I would say
approach any partnership like you would a marriage
make sure you have a lot of support at home. You will need it. And do something you love and are passionate about.
L: I’ve noticed a real surge in female entrepreneurs and mamapreneurs in Dubai in recent years, and it’s really thrilling to be a part of that wave. So far, everyone has been so supportive, which is great. We’ve met so many amazing women in the salon or because of the salon, and we now have a great network of other mamapreneurs and businesswomen. It’s so nice to be able to call them for advice or leverage each other’s businesses to help each other grow. So I would definitely say that networking is key.
Favourite activity with your kids in Dubai?
A: Swimming in our pool on the weekend. Ella also loves “mall fishies” so we bought the season pass to the Dubai Mall Aquarium.
L: We have a boat and enjoy going out for a day of fishing. I recently took the kids on the Palm Monorail to The Lost Chambers at the Atlantis, and that was a big hit. And when the weather is nice, Kite Beach is our go-to hangout spot.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Dubai?
A: Maria Bonita’s, my kids love the parrots.
L: We tend to stick to neighborhood restaurants. We’re fans of Jones the Grocer (the little one in the Etihad Center has a great play area), Bystro, and when in Dubai Mall, the café at Galleries Lafayette has something for everyone. Oh…and Benihana…what kid doesn’t love a steaming onion volcano!?
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot?
A: Sri Lanka has been a source of some of our most memorable holidays. Ella always pretends to drive there in her imaginary car.
L: My in-laws have a vacation house in Montana that we try to visit twice a year. The kids can go skiing and play in the snow in the winter and we do lots of hiking and fishing in the summer. Montana feels worlds away from Dubai and always provides a nice change of scenery for the kids.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
A: When you have kids and businesses, life can become so hectic and serious, and the once fun, carefree relationship can take back seat. We try to really manage this by setting up times where we have a ‘household meeting’ to talk about schools, money, work…anything stressful. Then, the rest of the time we can just be married and have fun. This is not always easy to do, but I find it make a big difference.
We also try to do a date night every week. It’s important to dress up and feel sexy!
L: My husband and I share a lot of similar interests, which keep us connected. We love Dubai’s art scene and enjoy going to gallery openings and the fairs. On a daily basis, we do little things like crossword puzzles before bed.
Favourite date-night restaurants?
A: Coya, Rivington Grill
L: La Petite Maison, Coya, and Hoi An in the Shangri La for some great Vietnamese
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
A: Guilt is a wasted emotion.
L: Go with your gut. I’m a pretty laid-back parent. I don’t read a lot of baby books or adhere to any one parenting regimen. I just let my instincts guide me, and so far, they’ve served me well.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
A: Nothing lasts forever. When you have a bad day, the next day will be better, don’t stress about every little detail.
L: One thing I did as a new mom that I’m really grateful for was learn a bit about photography. I was fortunate that my husband was already quite a good photographer and had a lot of professional-grade equipment, and I practiced a lot on my son, Henry to improve. I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to capture some beautiful memories of my children. The time passes so quickly, and I really enjoy looking back through photos to see how they’ve grown and recall all the amazing adventures our family has had so far.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
A: Sewing, my mom used to sew me lots of cute dresses, but I’m working at it.
L: Cooking more diverse dinners for my kids.
My most humbling mama moment was…
A: When my daughter came up to the hospital to meet my son when he was born. There was something so special about the four of us being together cuddled up, safe, quite and sound.
L: My daughter will say she sorry that she made me angry, and oftentimes, it’s in regards to something that happened days before. Whenever she does that I’m reminded just how meaningful words and behaviors can be and what impact they can have on children. I then reflect on how I could be more patient or handle frustrating situations more effectively.
One thing I won’t sacrifice as a mama is…
A: Being with my kids when they wake up in the morning and go to bed at night.
L: Helping the kids with homework and school projects. I have great memories of working with my parents on various projects, and I hope to create some of those same memories with my kids.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about…
L: Given I’m pregnant, I’m usually thinking about how I have to go to the bathroom but don’t want to get up.
Even when my children have families of their own, I’ll still…
A: Want them to vacation with us every summer, and love coming to our house for Sunday lunch.
L: Want to vacation together. Our families were initially worried that the distance apart would mean they wouldn’t be as close with their grandkids, but we’ve all found it to be the opposite. Since we spend weeks together when we do see each other, our parents really get to know the daily routines of our kids. They have more intensive and meaningful time together which has actually helped forge a greater bond. I hope to have the same kind of relationship with my grandkids.
My favourite moment of the day is…
A: Family breakfasts, my husband makes a great breakfast. We get up early so that we have some quality time before we all head our separate ways.
L: Reading to the kids at bedtime…and of course the moment they both go to sleep. Doesn’t every parent love that moment!
I always feel saner after…
A: A date night with my husband; and I complete my weekly work ‘to do list’
L: I go to the grocery store.
Having an empty fridge makes me stressed.
I wish I had more time for…
Browsing in a mall would be amazing!!
Meeting up with my friends
Bedtime is always smoother when…
A: My husband is out of town, and doesn’t get them all excited before bed! But life would be boring with out a little bit of hide and seek or jumping on the bed before bedtime!
L: Let’s face it… it’s never smooth!
Thanks to Stephanie from Nektar for these gorgeous pictures!