Fatima Al Shirawi is founder of lifestyle brand The Gracious F, a colour consultancy based in Dubai. Her passion for travel and education encourages Al Shirawi’s interest in achieving balance and understanding. Through her enterprise, she attempts to bring harmony and happiness to her clients’s lives.
Tell us about yourself.
Both of my parents are Emirati and I am the youngest of three siblings. My grandfather Mohamed Al Shirawi was the accountant to Sheikh Saeed Bin Hasher Al Maktoum (Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s grandfather). My father loved to travel and completed his education in Bahrain and Egypt before returning back to UAE to support the family’s trading business that was a major trademark back in the 1960s. Later on, my father launched his own career in the real estate industry. Meanwhile, my mother was from the Kazim family, which is famously recognised as a prominent name in the medical industry. She was a successful dentist.
Has it always been important to you that you make an identity for yourself outside of your family’s ventures?
From a young age, I worked very hard to set my goals to stand out from others and to leave a positive impact on people through my own identity. I wanted to establish myself outside my family heritage as I saw my two older siblings successfully build their own identity in different fields. I wanted to do the same.
I strongly believe our inner strength starts at home and at a young age. When a certain female is portrayed as the perfect role model for other women around them this leaves an imprint on our lives, especially our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and nieces; these relations automatically lead the influence to the younger generation inspiring them to peruse successful careers and ambitions both regionally and internationally
Where did the inspiration for The Gracious F come from?
From the challenges I went through in my life. My passion in becoming a Colour Expert started with my own personal journey that eventually led me to the path of helping others to find peace in their personal and professional lives.
I personally took a long time to move on with life after losing my mother when I was in university, this led me to look into the factors that affected my moods so that I could find a solution to finding inner happiness and peace. I started noticing remarkable changes in my life after researching and exploring different tools to help rebuild myself and rethink what I wanted and needed from life and how I would like to be remembered. I discovered that the colours I was surrounded with didn’t match my personality, this was the reason I was always feeling off balance. When I started applying the methods of the Colour Affect System, I found it easy to tackle every day tasks with ease and satisfaction.
Tell us your thoughts about the region’s female role models.
There are a lot of great role models in the Middle East but they are not properly recognised in today’s digital society due to the generation gap. I was privileged to grow up in the UAE surrounded by successful and influential women whose stories have not only inspired me to become an entrepreneur but have influenced others as well.
Women who should truly be recognised for their hard work - ambition and innovations often go unnoticed because they have a weak social media and digital presence while, on the other hand, those individuals who are social media savvy do not necessarily represent the right qualities of a successful female role model.
Some of the successful women who have inspired me are Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi and Reem Al Hashimi. I believe as we continue to build on women entrepreneurship we should acknowledge the inspirational women who are paving the way for other women to fulfill their dreams. They have a vision and achieve the impossible.
How has your Middle Eastern heritage influenced your career thus far?
The fact that I have Middle Eastern roots makes me distinctive in my field as the colour affects system is largely conducted by western practitioners only. The Middle East has a rich cultural heritage and I have always admired the integrity and modesty of our people. At the same time, we care about helping others as we work together hand in hand to improve each other’s business outlook. One of my favorite quotes from Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum who I found inspirational whilst growing up was: “Let your work speak for you.” His words have always inspired me to be focussed and to maintain a professional attitude in order to develop my brand’s credibility in the UAE and the GCC.