What’s On Her Desk: Entrepreneur Extraordinaire Dee Abdulla

Dee Abdulla has been at the forefront of the beauty industry for almost a decade, successfully launching beauty concepts with innovative and unique products that are internationally recognized.

Her career as an entrepreneur and professional makeup artist has led her to use her talents in multiple fashion shows, creating makeup looks for special events, local television and teaching her own beauty master classes. She is a qualified makeup artist, having completed a diploma in cosmetics and makeup in 2004, and a Mac training program for Mac techniques in 2015. Dee has also worked with celebrities such as Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Nicole Scherzinger, Little Mix and Victoria Beckham. Another highlight has been hosting a beauty master class for female asylum seekers as part of a personal development campaign she established to boost self-confidence in women who have experienced displacement or trauma in their lives.

After completing university in 2003 with an honours degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications in the UK, Dee Abdulla undertook a diploma in cosmetics and makeup that qualified her as a makeup artist in 2004. She then started a career in business banking with Lloyds Bank that spanned 3.5 years, before deciding to specialize and focus more on her passion – to merge commerce, retail and beauty in one, and this is when the concept of Arch Angelz came to be.

Arch Angelz is a pioneer in the UK where beauty treatments are affordable and accessible without appointment. Dee launched her first 2 beauty bars in Debenhams in A/W 08 and within the first year, opened 6 more locations, 12 more in the second year and now operates the largest beauty bar chain in the UK with almost 50 locations nationwide. Dee and her co-director created the drop-in beauty service concept when it was unheard of in the UK back in 2008. Eight years on they expanded that company into blow-dry bars and nail bars, a national beauty academy and an online professional beauty store.

Dee Abdulla Hi Impact Brows

In 2012 they expanded the business model into distribution, their first brand being Body Bling, a skin perfecting illuminator developed by celebrity makeup artist, Scott Barnes, for long-term client, Jennifer Lopez. In 2012, they reignited the JLO Glow and introduced it to celebrities and the mass market in the UK by launching into retail and working with television programs such as X Factor, day time TV shows and retailing in stores and online.

In 2009, Dee wanted to have a product that revolutionized the high selling eyebrow shaping service in her stores. Many times clients all over the UK would sit in the brow expert’s chair in Arch Angelz and ask,‘‘can you make my eyebrows like yours?’’
Granting clients with thin or scarce eyebrows this wish was a challenge, but she felt that every client should walk away with not only groomed brows, but the brows they dreamed of having. 
This is when she began developing Hi Impact Brows, a process that took almost 2 years. The finished product was everything she expected it to be to create the perfect brow for clients worldwide with an exceptional, compact and glossy brow-perfecting product.

Dee Abdulla 1What does your average day look like?
My day is organized chaos. I have a 5 year old son so it’s important for me to work my career around him as much as possible, when he’s in school, I take off the mommy hat and put my business hat on, I work, I go to meetings, interviews, photo-shoots or whatever is scheduled for that day, and when the school bell rings, I am back in my flats and mommy mode once again. Unless I am on a business trip, I tend to work after he goes to sleep so my life is on the most part, pretty low key.

What top five items comprise your desktop arsenal? Why?
a) Samples and more samples! – We are currently finalizing our eyelash collection and a large collection of exciting beauty tools called Beauty Essentials, so I have samples of all sorts on my desk at all times

b) Plain paper and sharpened pencils – at any given time, I have to break into Van Gogh mode and sketch a concept, take a photo of my fine artwork as I find the easiest way to describe a concept is to draw it. I then send it to our design team and hope they get what I mean. They are so used to my ambiguous and questionable sketches now that they totally get the gist even though it’s a visual mess at the best of times.

c) Printer! Its always on and feeding paper through it

d) Post-its, everywhere. With reminders and agenda alerts, I have a calendar on my phone and laptop but nothing works better than a Post-it for me

e) Drawings my little boy has drawn or painted for me- his stick figures and kiddie handwriting remind me to not take life too seriously often.

What is one desktop item you just cannot live without?
My paper and pencils – I have to sketch – it saves me long and confusing emails

What are some must have cosmetics for this year?
Glow Kits – it’s all about that Jlo Glow once again after it ran its course in the early 2000’s

Brow Products – they have never gone out of trend, they are the most essential part of the face structure. Hi Impact Brows is so successful because it fulfills a real need and provides a real solution for salon perfect brows everyday its essential

False Lashes – whether they are barely there or thick and dramatic, nothing completes a look like well-groomed brows and luscious lashes

Who is your greatest inspiration?
I am inspired by women – everyday. Sounds corny? Sure I am inspired by celebrities who have gone from having nothing to having everything, those with a great glory story such as Jennifer Lopez who’s career I have avidly followed since she was an extra in that show ‘In Living Color’. But actually, women of all shades and walks of life inspire me, I like to see how women choose to live and adjust their lives to careers, children, marriage, hardship and so forth, and that inspires me to juggle and manage my crazy lifestyle. Some of my closest friends are my greatest muses.

My best friend Yasmine is definitely my muse – she inspires me with her crazy schedule and how she juggles babies, and several projects all at the same time – there’s not a dull day in that house!

What is your favorite spot in Dubai?
I love Jumeirah, It’s busy yet peaceful, brimming with creativity and so many different types of people.