Araceli Gallego: Follow Your Heart and Interests, They Will Make You Grow
Meet Araceli Gallego, Dubai Fashion News founder and entrepreneur! The team at Deals in High Heels met with this new mum to discuss the Dubai fashion scene, controversial influencer marketing and her first two months of motherhood.
Hi Araceli! Thanks for letting us interview you - you've had a very interesting career. What made you move from hospitality industry to the Fashion world?
My philosophy is to follow your heart and your interests, as they will make you grow. If there is something that attracts my attention, I will give it a try. On top that, I am a bit nerdy and I enjoy studying. All this got me doing many different things. Some ended up being jobs, some ended up being hobbies. From Marketing and PR Manager for hotels, I changed to Procurement Manager of Hospitality projects. With this role I went to Jamaica and helped built some hotels. When offered back to go back to operations, I realised I liked better the projects, so I studied a Masters in Project Management with the PMI and became a Project Manager. One of my personal projects for a while was a fashion and lifestyle blog. Eventually, I wanted to improve it and take it to the next level, so Dubai Fashion News was born. The next project is an e-marketplace for local designers.
What kind of fashion style do you have and how has it changed over time?
I love comfy wear. Give me some jeans and a white t-shirt and I am the happiest person in the world. Another staple in my closet is dresses of all kinds and types. To me, they are absolutely fantastic. They look proper and chic and are easy to dress up or down with the clever use of accessories.
Over the years, you learn what to dress depending on the occasion and the location. In the corporate world, how we look- and not only how we work- is crucial on how our efforts are perceived. UAE is particularly dressy in my opinion. In Jamaica, for example - where I lived for a good number of years- the look was more relaxed.
What's your insight into the fashion scene in Dubai and what are some challenges the designers face?
Dubai is working hard to be part of the global fashion scene in a very short period of time and it is working. DDFC or D3 are government initiatives that are assisting fashion designers and other creators to collaborate, find mentors, investors, buyers etc. As a result, we have seen design and fashion schools blossoming and talent being developed and trained. That talent will be the one putting Dubai on the map. I am an advocate for talent, but I don’t think talent has it any easy nowadays as yet. Designers need to be profitable fast and that means sometimes creativity is geared to be commercial or easy to produce. Local fashion brands are facing some additional struggles like consignment and late payments. We need to make sure creativity is nurtured. It is something we should water every day. And everyone of us can help, especially as consumers.
What are the local designers inspired by?
Talking about inspiration, designers are free thinkers. They find inspiration everywhere, from a flower to a dinner, a movie, a conversation... Inspiration lies everywhere if you have your eyes and your heart open for it. Why there are so many designers starting here, I feel is due to the “can-do” attitude of Dubai and the UAE. It makes a difference if you feel empowered, there is a good market and you have the right support.
Who is your fashion style icon?
My style icon is Audrey Hepburn. I love her classic style and how she was able to turn something simple into a sophisticated look and the other way around, how she turned something sophisticated into some simple and effortless.
Who is a 'typical Dubai Fashion News reader' and tell us more about your new podcast.
When it comes to our audience, Dubai Fashion News readers are mostly women (65%) and men (35%) from the UAE, and other GCC countries. Their interest is fashion, health, career, beauty, travel, art and they are between 25-45 years old.
Our podcast Dubai Fashion News (you can check for it on iTunes or click this link and subscribe) is more fashion focused and it targets fashion professionals. The intention of the podcast is to share knowledge and in the fashion industry, there are so many different profiles and all of them are so interesting! We interviewed fashion designers, PR´s specialised on fashion brands, influencers, speakers, people from model agencies, fashion schools, brands... each of them had a unique journey and we can learn for example how one did a Kickstarter to get funds, how another took her brand international, how other managed to get in iconic shops like Galleries Lafayette... each of them have a story to tell and the entire community can grow with it.
What are your thoughts on influencer marketing? Do you think brands should embrace it as part of their digital strategy?
I see them very much interconnected. Influencers use digital marketing strategies to create their own brand and later are able to use that exposure to promote other brands- normally at a fee. The persona becomes a brand on itself. When you think of Chiara Ferragni, the Blonde Salad- one of my favourite influencers. She is not only Chiara -a gorgeous Italian girl- she is also a business. She is constantly endorsing brands and destinations because they know the exposure they can get and how people follow what she says. She has a full team of people managing her “brand”. If you are a brand- also a brick and mortar one - you should embrace the digital world and influencer marketing could help you as an additional strategy if there are influencers in your area of business.
A HUGE congrats on your new baby! How have you found your first two months of motherhood?
Becoming a mom has been the biggest challenge and the most beautiful thing ever happening to me. Since I became a mom, all moms in the world became my new heroes. Now, I truly believe we are wonder women! Motherhood is really demanding. The baby requires so much of you: time, attention, love, food (especially if you are breastfeeding) ... My little one is only 2 months old and she already is the centre of my world.
Women need more support to cope in this period if we want to have strong future families. Governments and private companies need to provide with a more generous maternity leave and offer the option for daddies to join the leave and share the education and rise of the next generation. At the end of the day, children learn from their parents and if you don’t have time to dedicate to them, where are they learning from?