Women in Power are women who "empower"

Women in Power are women who "empower"

The House of Devereaux is celebrating 5 years of being a brand and recently were invited to attend the WOMEN IN POLE POSITION PANEL held during Formula 1 Weekend in Abu Dhabi.

There have been times where we've attended panels that were filled with blanketed buzzwords or frivolous talks about how "you can do it, if you put your mind to it" but this panel was different and if felt different. 

What I appreciated was how each woman spoke to the reality of the not so "ready made" journey towards success, how they broke barriers in often known male dominated industries and how they knew early on as young girls that their path to greatness would be met with some resistance. Some of that resistance came from family and some from society. But this resistance didn't stop them. It actually fueled their fire.

Their fire for a career in finance as the Head of Commercial Banking for HSBC (Stephanie Gomes), the CEO of well known luxury hospitality group- Jumeirah (Katerina Giannouka), the first Emirati woman to own racing license as well as drive in F3 (Nahla Al Rostamani) as well as the first woman to be a Williams Racing Development Driver (Jamie Chadwick) was awe-inspiring. And although each of these women are considered "powerful"- it did not stop them from being personable. 

As they spoke to the challenges they overcame, there was no ego on this stage. They discussed everything from crafting the life that they wanted to pursuing a career in fields that women aren't often a part of and not necessarily waiting for the "warm welcome" to come from their male counterparts. This could be attributed to the mention of their fathers who played a huge part in how they positively saw themselves being agents of change. And being a Daddy's girl myself, I can attest to the power of paternal influence.

Then there was their advice for the next generation. Like the idea that you can change and adjust your career path as much as necessary. Don't feel boxed into the limitations of others but also the limitations we place on ourselves, and don't be afraid to do what is uncomfortable. No true growth can come from being comfortable and that is something that I feel women have needed to hear. We don't have to just work to retire or support our families. We can do that and so much more, while enjoying what we do, the paths it creates, the opportunities it brings, the challenges it makes and the journey that it takes us on. But it's going to require us to be uncomfortable. And it's not going to be some clearly paved road. We have the opportunity and the obligation to create one for the generations to come. They don't have to know "the struggle" just because we did, but they do have to understand the importance of discipline and work ethic.

We as women often hear about the "glass ceiling" but I liken this to the "crystal stair" from Langston Hughes.

"Well, son, I’ll tell you: 
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a’climbin’ on"

So we keep climbing, no matter the discomfort of the journey because the higher we get and with the right level of growth, it can only get greater. And as I sat across from these dynamic and powerful women who each had such an incredible presence, it allowed me to reflect on my journey as an entrepreneur.

What made this event so much sweeter for me is the realization that I was wearing the "Gabrielle" blazer. See there is a story behind this piece. She took over a year to source and produce because the fabric was so difficult to find, and right as she was ready to roll out for our 2nd collection- BETA, the world came crashing down with COVID. The vendor, who I hunted down for over a year sadly like many others went out of the business and therefore I had to pull her from production. So she was archived and honestly I was heartbroken. Not just because she couldn't be produced, but because I thought my dream specialty brand and business like so many others around the world was being put on an indefinite pause. But after 5 years, we thankfully and gratefully are still here.

So when I received this invite, I knew I wanted to wear something warm as the weather was beginning to change and low and behold the event ended up being on the water, therefore I was glad that "Gabrielle" immediately came to mind. Pulling her from the ghosts of Devereaux past was perfect and a member of the panel even thought so too. Thank you Nahla ;).

I believe subconsciously that I wore "Gabrielle" because she represents resilience. She represents discomfort during uncertain times and she represents 5 years of never giving up on a dream that I, like the panel, have had since I was a young girl. Like Nahla and Jamie, I knew as a teenager that this was the industry for me. I couldn't think of anything else. Dream of anything else. Do anything else unless it fueled my fire for the fashion industry. So to be amongst a panel of powerful women, wearing one of my power pieces after 5 years of building a brand around power dressing made for a perfect and powerful anniversary afternoon.

A special thanks to the entire Jumeirah Saadiyat staff for their tremendous hospitality and warmth. Thank you ladies for sharing your words, your wisdom, your experiences and your power with us all.

P.S. Post panel there was an amazing rooftop reception to celebrate Jumeirah Group's partnership with well known racing group- Williams Racing.

It was complete with racing simulators, bottles of champs ready to pop and an atmosphere of appreciation for the guests in attendance.

"Gabrielle" and I ended the night celebrating our 5 year anniversary surrounded by art which we love at the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the latest drone art show from PAAD (Public Art Abu Dhabi) brought to us by Manar Abu Dhabi. If you have a chance to check out the exhibit- there are several taking place across the city until the end of January 2024.

Fashionably Yours,


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