Would you introduce yourself?
I am Hala el Kassm, CEO and Chairwoman of Carina Wear, I’m responsible for all the Carina retail stores. And I’m a mother of five.
What got you into the textile business?
Well, to start with, Carina is a family business. I have always had a dream when I was a little girl; the dream was to be an owner of a store or a shop. My family had a textile business, and I decided to open the first shop for this business, which really was a dream come true.
Where did your entrepreneurial spirit come from? Are your parents entrepreneurs as well?
Both my parents are entrepreneurs yes, and I believe I got this from them. My family is originally from Syria, and Syrians are known for being great business people and entrepreneurs, so itbasically runs in my blood.
Is Carina your first business?
Yes, it is.
What aspects of your business are you proud of?
It is a really long journey, what I am most proud of is how challenging it was when we first started. At the time the retail business in Egypt was still a virgin - unlike now, but for me it was like a race. I ran as fast as I could, without looking around me, without acknowledging the competition, as if I was racing myself. I was running like a train to reach where we are now. So I’m proud of this...
To what/who do you attribute your success
Without a doubt; my father and mother.
What were your toughest moments in business? And how did you overcome them?
One of those moments was the devaluation of the Egyptian pound. We had to take care of our business, but also our people. Expenses went skyrocketing, cost of goods increased, but we also had to raise salaries for everyone, it was a really tough time.
Were there opportunities you feel you have missed out on?
In my dictionary, there is no room for the word lost or missed opportunities; I believe you continuously get opportunities. There is a reason for everything, and a timing for everything, so you can always do things in the future
What are your aspirations for the business?
I see carina as the brand for basics, a must have in every girl and woman’s wardrobe, and I see going global. I also see digitization.
What do you look for in people you hire?
I look for confidence, challenge, a positive attitude and life experience.
What’s your leadership style?
I simply leading with my heart
What advice would you give your team leaders?
To lead with their heart, have their heart at peace not at war. To try to motivate their people, to sell them the idea they want them to achieve so that they do it with love, and do it happily, not because they are forced to do it.
What are 3 things you would advise entrepreneurs?
To take risks
To challenge themselves
To believe in themselves
...and as a woman entrepreneur, I would advise them to have lead with a feminine energy and a masculine force.
What is the legacy you want to leave behind? What do you want to be remembered for?
Being a reason for making people happy, and helping people achieve their dreams; that’s on one hand. On the other hand: women’s empowerment, how they can be multitasked, how they can be successful in bringing up the next generation while also being successful in business and creating work opportunities. Lastly, Carina is starting its CSR arm, which is an impact I want to have in society.
Does the success of Carina depend on your constant presence?
It used to be like this yes, but we reached a decision where we wanted to turn this company into a corporate governance instead of a family business. So we hired the key employees for each department and now I can easily say that my presence is not crucial on a daily basis.
What sacrifices have you had to make in order to reach this level of success?
Well, being a business woman is not easy at all, add to it being a woman, and then being a mother of five, it is very hard. So the main sacrifice is managing my time around all this. I had to forgetting about “quantity” time and prioritized quality time instead; whether with my family, or with my friends. With my family especially, we talk about it openly and deal with it together.
What best motivates you?
Challenges and risks
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), to ask him if I’m doing well or not.
Who is the one entrepreneur you look up to?
Do you believe in destiny or you believe you can control fate?
I believe in a mix of both. Yes there is destiny, but at the same time it can be controlled a bit.
If there a book written about you? What would it be called?
What’s your greatest fear?
I used to have lots of fears before, I used to get panic attacks, but I learned how to overcome them by asking myself “what is the worst that could happen?”.