Hanne Ripsaluoma is the mastermind behind the vibrant beachwear brand called Dunesi. She studied and worked in the UK and USA for years before coming to Dubai a decade ago. With her business degree and international work experience, coupled with life-long calling for running her own business, a corporate career was soon switched to the life of an entrepreneur. Now she is launching her second entrepreneurial adventure and we are liking what she is doing so far!
Dunesi is a stylish yet comfortable, glamorous yet accessible, and fashionable yet timeless beachwear brand. With love for the natural world, a remarkable boho-chic lifestyle, and wanderlust flavor.
Dunesi is not your first company. How was it then and now?
Doing something for the second time is of course so much easier as you have already made mistakes and learned from them, and you already have all the contacts in place so you don’t need to spend time of looking for good suppliers/freelancers/advice. In my case, I also feel I work smarter now overall than when starting the first company.
What lessons did you learn along the way?
Ooh, that is a long list! You never stop learning these lessons but I think the main thing is to really believe in your product and always think how to add more value to your customers. It is also important to plan well and to plan for the unexpected because it will happen…
What is the process to set up a fashion company in UAE?
Starting a fashion/clothing company in UAE has many challenges, just like any other business as the industry is overly competitive with hundreds of brands. In my case, I studied and tested multiple current offerings in the market prior to really understand a niche market that appreciates and values the concept that Dunesi is based on. Developing the clothing line, testing the market appetite, identifying the appropriate distribution channels and marketing, all that has been a phenomenal experience but requires a significant amount of work and perseverance.
What would you improve of the process?
If I have to choose one element in the overall process, I think that entrepreneurs sometimes tend to overlook the importance of distribution channels. This may sound as a cliché, but the famous 4Ps of Porter, and particularly distribution should be taken very seriously in this market.
MADE IN THE UAE
Why do you think UAE is a good place to start a business?
I love that Dubai has such a great buzz that really drives you and the atmosphere in this city is very supportive of entrepreneurs and start-ups. The UAE being a country where multiple cultures reside makes the market very receptive and welcoming to new ideas and products that entrepreneurs like myself can benefit from.
Dunesi produces in UAE. Why did you decide to go for the “made in UAE”?
A big reason is quality control; being able to monitor and oversee the production, it really enhances the quality, increases the flexibility of the business and also reduces the manufacturing risk… Dunesi was born from the love I have for the Dubai life, beach and the surrounding desert and we want to be a “Dubai company”, including production.
Was it challenging?
As with everything it is challenging to find the right people and processes in the beginning but I was lucky to have all that in place already from before.
Where do you outsource the fabrics?
From all over the world. Our fabrics come from Brazil, Indonesia, South Korea, Chile, my native Finland… We are looking into some sustainable materials at the moment and have been discussing with factories in Portugal and Turkey.
What means Dunesi for you?
Being an entrepreneur I’m living my life-long dream of being one, so Dunesi really is a passion to me, it is much more than a “job”… it’s kind of like a lifestyle or a feeling. I actually want Dunesi to be a good feeling, the one that you have when you are away on holiday, free from schedules, sunkissed after a day on the beach… and I’m hoping that with the Dunesi clothes our customers will have that feeling when they are wearing them.
“EACH DUNESI PRODUCT IS A LABOUR OF LOVE, AND IS SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD WEAR FOR SEASONS TO COME”
Now from a branding perspective, Dunesi does have a unique meaning that I want to share with you. Unesi in my native language means, “Your Dream”. So given that I have been inspired to develop this concept on the lifestyle of UAE/Dubai, I added D to Unesi for Dubai, aiming to combine my Dubai Dream.
You design too. How do you manage the creative and the business side?
I guess I don’t think of them as separate sides and instead it’s all just part of the big picture. Time management is the biggest challenge. As a working mum, I would love some additional hours to be added to my days!
What would you advise new fashion entrepreneurs to do or to avoid?
Always be yourself, never give up….. and avoid, for sure, negative vibes!
Where can we find your clothes?
Online, Be You Boutique in Dar Wasl Mall, Blue Marlin Ibiza UAE boutique, Dive n Surf, Shaymartian and Urbanist. Also one-off events.
If you want to know more. These are the links for Dunesi.
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