Arshia Shroff hasn’t just survived through the Covid-19 pandemic, she’s thrived. Now with a brand-new business under her belt, MOJEH speaks to the young entrepreneur on what she has learnt during these trying times, and why home will always be where the heart is.
The year 2020 was the year no-one saw coming. Not only did the onslaught of Covid-19 bring the world to a standstill, but the ripple effect of crumbling economies meant that numerous businesses fell victim to the pandemic. Yet with change comes opportunity, and one perhaps not-so-surprising result was the rise of a new generation of passionate young entrepreneurs who, by adapting and doing things differently to their predecessors, have followed their dreams and are now thriving in the crisis. One such businesswoman is 25-year-old Arshia Shroff who, with hard work and family values at her core, has recently launched The Lumière Co., an exciting new e-commerce platform offering young-at- heart customers an eclectic array of contemporary must-haves that add light to everyday moments.
Born and raised in Dubai, Arshia already boasts an impressive international CV, having studied and worked across a number of well-established companies in both the UAE and the States. Currently employed with Endeavor UAE – a global organisation headquartered in New York working with entrepreneurs from renowned scale-ups all over the world – Covid-19 presented a unique opportunity for her to get further involved in the family business, Regal, which, until now had specialised mainly in retail. “At Regal, our tailors’ salaries are based on piece-rate, and during Covid, work reduced dramatically for them,” she tells MOJEH from her beautiful family home in Emirates Hills, Dubai, where she lives with her mother, father and brother. “However, we still had the production facilities, so I did some research on how to make cloth masks and things grew from there. It started as a way to help the tailors – we covered the costs and they would take all the profits – but it has scaled immensely since then, and now we supply everyone from Borders and Daiso to Mumzworld.”
Not content with stopping at face masks, Arshia’s latest baby is The Lumière Co., which launched this January, selling everything from aprons, candles and cushions to greeting cards and towels. Think Etsy in the US or the UK-based Not On The High Street – products can be personalised, with the new e-commerce site all about making everything fun and unique, with a sense of purpose at its heart. “Ninety per cent of stock is made in-house. However, we outsource products such as candles and cushions to suppliers whose values and vision align with ours,” adds the entrepreneur. “We found a supplier here who uses vegan soy-based candles, for example, and she’s a female entrepreneur too – all of this is important to me.”
Certainly mature for her years, one might wonder how Arshia has nurtured such a passion and understanding for growing a successful business at such a young age, but it’s really quite simple. “Family,” she tells MOJEH. “Growing up, my brother and I were inspired by both our parents in different ways. My father is an entrepreneur through-and-through. He is constantly coming up with new ideas and starting new businesses. He sees any problem we face as a business opportunity, and this has become ingrained in our blood. My mother, on the other hand, is all about attention to detail. She helped me realise that when operating a consumer-based business, every detail is important. You can’t just focus on margins and bottom lines. She taught me that packaging is everything, because it makes people feel happy, and she will sit with myself and the team for hours teaching us how to get it just right. It is a mix of both my parents who have helped make the business successful so far, and with their input I hope for this to continue long into the future.”
Arshia’s business acumen isn’t the only thing she has inherited from her parents – a sense of charity has also been instilled in her from a young age. “Giving back is an integral part of my family which started from my grandparents; my grandad especially,” she explains. “He helps many different communities in Dubai, and even started a temple in Bur Dubai, with another in process in Jebel Ali. These values have been ingrained in my parents, and my mother’s mentality is that ‘every little helps.’ My whole family is big on giving back and empowering people, including providing them with skills which will help them later in life.” As such, Arshia has teamed up with a number of charitable foundations to create clothing for The Lumière Co., including a mental health awareness NGO to create ‘Be Kind To Your Mind’ tees, with a percentage of the proceeds going to those suffering around the world. “We also have products emblazoned with the logo ‘Girl Power’ whose profits I would like to go to groups supporting equality and feminism, as well as products with a paw print to benefit animal non-profit groups. I have tried to develop as many products as possible that can go to a good cause while maintaining a successful business with a healthy bottom line.”
From speaking with Arshia it’s clear that her home is one of her biggest sources of inspiration, and she lights up when discussing the love that has gone into creating it. “Our home is a very safe and special place for us,” she says. “Sure, my mum is interested in beautiful art and nice things, but that isn’t what is important to me. What’s important is the feeling of home, and I’m lucky that my mother has created a haven where we all feel comfortable and happy.” While she might have guffawed at what she calls her mother’s “obsession with detail” as a young girl, it is a trait which she has inherited, and has since served her well. “My mother loves our home so much that she just wants to protect it,” Arshia adds. “This taught me to take care of things and to make sure every part of an item is well taken care of when handing it to the customer. To me it’s important they feel that kind of love and affection that I am so used to.”
Would she say fashion and personal style influence her to such an extent? “I don’t consider myself a stylish person by any means,” she tells MOJEH. While we would have to disagree, she goes on to explain that sustainable brands are her passion – so much so that she in the process of launching yet another business with a friend with the environment at its heart. “It’s a fully sustainable line comprising vegan leather, vegan silk, vegan wool…” she enthuses. “I have personally made an effort to buy these types of brands too, and there is a clear consumer shift where people want to know where their products have come from, whom the products benefit and all other details of the supply chain. It’s about full transparency, and as people become more educated they would rather spend their money on something that benefits the world in some way.” A fierce animal-lover and vegetarian herself, Arshia practices what she preaches, adding: “Even small changes make a difference.”
With all the uncertainty surrounding us right now, if there’s one thing that’s clear to see, it’s that the future for Arshia is astoundingly bright. Be it the global expansion of her business, a move into emerging markets or expanding her role in the family business, the sky is the limit when it comes to her dreams. “Like my dad, I think starting new businesses is something I will never stop,” she concludes. “I want to keep launching new ventures and I want them to be successful. That is something that will always be ongoing for me.” We can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. To shop The Lumière Co., visit the website here.
Photographed by Ausra Osipaviciute | Hair and make-up by Denny Clements | Clothing edit by Jade Chilton
- Words by Naomi Chadderton