Dore Dion: Nabila Ismail

The mum of three tells Startups how she spotted a gap in the market for a teenagers' perfume business

Name: Nabila Ismail
Age: 28
Company: Dore Dion
Staff numbers: 1
Location: London
Date launched: 01/06/2013

Tell us what your business does:

We are a brand offering fragrances designed exclusively for teenagers. Our latest fragrance, called Pink Addiction, is launching in June.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

While working for Harrods, I came across quite a few customers who wanted to buy fragrances for their children. Since we didn’t have any fragrance for children in the kid’s department, I always directed them to the perfume section. This always made me wonder if there were any perfumes available for children or young teens. Having left Harrods in November 2007, in July 2008 I was looking to buy a perfume for my youngest sister who was going to turn 13. To my amazement there still was nothing available on the market for young teens.

How did you know there was a market for it?

I decided to do a bit of research and after almost a year of thorough research, I was convinced that this was a niche in the market, an opportunity which I was determined to explore as I have always aspired to start and run my own successful business. I knew the opportunity had arrived to make my dreams come true.

What were you doing before starting up?

Prior to starting Dore Dion and launching Pink Addiction I was a full time mum to my three wonderful kids. I have worked for The Pen Shop and WH Smith as well as a short stint with Harrods as a sales associate in the children’s designer wear section.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

At the age of 16 I helped my step-father manage our business in Tanzania, eventually running it for almost a year on my own while my step-father speculated in other businesses. The time managing our business was a revelation for me as I really enjoyed myself and discovered that one day I wanted to manage and run my own successful business. I realised that I had the same passion, determination, drive and energy to successfully run my business and that’s what made me determined to do it.

How did you raise the money?

From 2011 to October 2012, I managed to secure some finance from family members with which I had a sample made. I presented this sample to Harrods in October 2012 and they liked it very much and said they would be willing to buy and sell some from us but at a small quantity. During that time and up to February 2013, I was actively looking for finance to set up production. I finally went to BIT and was invited to attend a workshop. I met with Zoe Brown who has helped me pitch my idea to the board and secure the funding I required to get the business rolling. Through the Bright Ideas Trust I managed to secure full investment of £20,000 through the Start-Up Loan scheme.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge for me has always been finance as the industry I have chosen to operate in has very heavy spenders, companies and brands such as Chanel, Dior etc. who spend extremely high amounts to create awareness of their brand. So, in order for me to compete with such established and strong brands, I had to get value for my money. Compared to the Chanels of this world, I didn’t have millions to spend but yet I have managed to raise my product awareness with the limited funding that I have.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

My brand Dore Dion is a product-based business that will design and sell fragrances designed exclusively for teens. As it is a start-up business I can only give a calculated guess in terms of figures but I am aiming to have a turnover of about £30,000, based on me selling the agreed amount with Harrods and relying solely on Harrods.

What was your first big breakthrough?

I had everything that a business needs to be successful; determination, passion, an amazing product, research and a firm commitment with Harrods. The only vital piece of the puzzle missing was investment which I secured from Start-Up Loans with the help of Zoe and David (Bright Ideas Trust team members). The investment came about because of the faith and belief that Zoe and David had in me and my business. They played a huge part in me securing the funding which enabled the business to become a reality and not just a paper bound idea.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Never give up, that’s the golden rule of any business. You need to be able to bounce back no matter what happens. As long as you believe in yourself and your business then nothing should stop you from achieving your dreams. There are organisations such as the Bright Ideas Trust and Start-Up Loans who are there to guide and support you as long as you are willing to work hard to achieve your goals.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

My ambition is to establish my brand as the teen brand. I aim to supply to Europe within a year with North America and the Far/Middle East within two years. I want to make my brand known worldwide which I know is very ambitious but every project starts with one step, a step I have already taken by creating and launching my first perfume.


(will not be published)