This month, QMIN magazine interviews Jacob Hrayki, an entrepreneur, founder and CEO of TLCA Group, TLCA Distribution and Middle East brands representative companies (Dior Writing Instruments & accessories, Vuarnet Eyewear, Picasso accessories, Dr. Babor Skincare). Additionally, Jacob is the founder Retail Operation, The Loft Fifth Avenue, Hair & Nail Spa. In 2015, Jacob launched The Loft Café as extension of The Loft Fifth Avenue brand. The Loft Fifth Avenue is well knows in Dubai and is a brand with a concept close to Jacob’s heart; having created the concept at the end of 2008 with the first salon launch taking place at Dubai Mall Beauty Arena. In a short period of time, it has expanded as a concept and branched into a network of more than 10 locations across UAE; becoming a pioneer and leader in the beauty and salon services sector. Today, The Loft Fifth Avenue is recognized for its quintessential New York style charm, as a place for new trends and premium service experience in UAE. Jacob Hrayki’s earlier corporate career formed the fundamental basis of his future ventures. Working as General Manager for Christian Dior Watches & Jewellery, Middle East, Turkey & Africa; he was highly recognized in the luxury group of LVMH, becoming one of the youngest members of the Elite Group members associated with The Leaders Group meetings in London
Jacob Hrayki has held the position on the Regional Director for Creation Company from 2000 till 2008; with the company representing most luxury cosmetics and fragrances brands in the Middle East, such as Burberry, Van Cliff and Lanvin fragrances, NARS and By Terry Make up and Shiseido cosmetics, Carita Paris and Decleor Skincare and Haircare products. In 2003, Jacob Hrayki’s first entrepreneurship project became a reality when he entered in partnership with Creation in launching Carita Institute Franchise at Mina Al Salam and Al Qasr Hotels in Dubai.
1. Who is Jacob Hrayki? How would you describe yourself in few sentences for QMIN readers?
I m an entrepreneur, very passionate about what I do with work, love my Creation of the brand “The Loft Fifth Avenue” and its continuous success story. I enjoy and keep discovering life in its multi-dimension aspects and rich history and culture. I am always optimistic as long as I can chose, and being in charge and control of my choice. I was blessed that I was born in good environment enabling me to get proper education and become the person I am today. I never look at a problem as a problem, but rather as a challenging scenario to be resolved and celebrated afterward since I m very motivated by challenges.
2. How did your previous work experience in watches & jewelry have an impact on your businesses; The Loft Fifth Avenue & TLCA Distribution?
Working in luxury business, particularly being the regional director of Christian Dior Jewellery and watches taught me the sense of consistency in quality delivery and clients expectation, building brand image and equity that can create clients loyalty and affinity to the brand, so any road map for success of The Loft or any brand TLCA represents is built upon long term vision and setting high standards and being detailed oriented.
And what is the key to success of its 9th Salon across UAE?
The Loft brand is a favorite brand for any mall or community today, so we have the luxury for choosing great locations. Being already in Dubai Mall, Yas Mall, then opening Mall of Emirates two months ago, and now opening our 9th location for Ladies (we have additionally 3 The Loft Men) in Mirdif area, we seek very convenient and clients accessible locations, that helps a lot the traffic, then of course strong brand reputation, and always delivering high standards services without being perceived as expensive is one the most important element of The Loft success.
What are the three main advises for young Entrepreneurs in the Middle East? Courage so Dare to do, Passion and Determination, that’s the main recipe, other staff is only derivative details of the core values, and things will unfold successfully, just be patient!
What is the correlation success and failure?
Level of Determination and belief in what you do, in addition to long term vision in terms of project feasibility and growth.
How does travel inspire you?
Second to reading, comes Travel in terms of importance, inspiration, exploration and learning. Creativity is so limited without knowledge, experience and exposure. Travel is very enriching for me, I m always learning and getting inspired from what I explore in traveling, who I meet, new ideas are born.
What are the most important traits a great leader should have? That’s difficult to answer, cause I see this as relevant to different groups of people and circumstances, many academic research, books and essays have been written and yet the discussion is still open. I can tell you briefly my story, when I opened my first shop in Dubai Mall (you can imagine rent and operational expenses), Nov 2008, the financial crisis just began, exact same time! The beauty section wasn’t complete, other retailers didn’t open, the area traffic was so mediocre that I lost huge amount of money in an 8 months course, I was almost broken, while at the same time I was working for Dior and all my salary was directed toward paying The Loft salaries and covering losses. I reach the point where I put my car for sale to cover another 3 months of salaries, and rent a small transportation car! I refused to sell my shares, I believed so much in the project, I was ready to give anything not to fail, and I did, and as of July 2009, it was the first month the business breakeven, and I never looked back again. I am a person who is very accessible to people, staff, and I think that’s important character of leadership, I m one of you approach, authenticity! And I make sure till now, I share my story with employees, and certainly that circulates and I can see how people positively react cause probably they see me like them I suffered at a time and that create sense of bonding with the organization and teams. Leadership should come from within, we can learn from others, but never replicate them. In my view, Authenticity and self identification should be always at the heart of our leadership, then create your own inspiring story and lead by example.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? I would love to establish my own non-profit organization, The Loft Foundation probably. I think in life, whoever is lucky to be born in a good healthy environment, and then has the privilege to succeed financially and socially, should contribute to the better of others who didn’t have similar chances, thus enabling others of better life, only then I consider myself succeeding in my short visit to this beautiful world.