QMIN Magazine

The Woman Behind Comptoir 102

Emma Sawko is one half of the Parisian duo that created infamous Dubai concept store, Comptoir 102 and this week on QMIN Insider we get a chance to ask her all the questions we’ve been dying to find out the answers to. Luckily, the Parisian entrepreneur is willing to give us a little more than just business talk and we talk favourite foods, jewellery fetishes and rough day’s at the office. 


Q. What’s the thought behind the name of the store?

In French, ”comptoir” has several meanings; it’s a trading post for goods, but it also refers to the silver, metal counters in typical Parisian cafes. We thought this suited the concept of having products from everywhere around the world.

Q. Who had the idea to open Comptoir 102?

I was living in New York and following my husband to Dubai. I was already working on a concept store in New York and naturally I wanted to see the vision through. I was lucky to find a like-minded partner to launch the project with me!

Q. How long did it take to open the store?

Once we found the location, no time at all – around 6 months.

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Q. What would you say is the style of the store?

I’d call it Eclectic Parisian. Some would say bohemian, but we have a mix of products.

Q. Dubai is such a huge city with new malls, hotels and restaurants opening every day. How did you make people aware of Comptoir 102?

There aren’t many stores outside the big brands in Dubai. Not only was Comptoir 102 the first lifestyle store when we opened it 4 years ago, but our selection is radically different from others in town. We deliberately chose to be outside of a mall because we wanted to reintroduce street life with a cafe and terrace. That’s what we thought was needed and what people wanted in Dubai. Comptoir 102 was also the first healthy cafe serving freshly made, organic food – people thought I was mad when I opened it! We’re a destination as a whole now.

Q. Do you have a favourite product?

Oh definitely, jewellery. I can’t help myself and then I end up with not enough fingers and ears to wear all of it!

Q. Recently you won the Harper’s Bazaar ”Best Interiors” award; how did that affect the store? If at all.

I don’t think it really affected us, although having said that – our clients were very happy for us. More recently we won the What’s on Award for ”Best Healthy Restaurant” and that was a super proud moment for me!

Q. Are you often at the store? Or do you keep a behind the scenes approach?

When I’m not away buying new products for the store, I am in the office all day. I check recipes and do food tastings every day. I’m constantly curious about what people want and love.

After a more formal interview, we asked Emma whether she’d be happy to answer a few more personal questions about ”her”. So for all the Comptoir 102 lovers out there, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for……

   budwig2              Q. Favourite food?    

The budwig cream my mother used to make me every day for breakfast. We have been serving it from the start and it’s always been one of our best sellers.

Q. Go-to outfit?

Black top, jeans, sneakers. Simple.

Q. Sunny beach or ski chalet?

Thats a tough one. I go to the beach every day when I’m in Dubai but grew up in the French alps. I need to go and breathe in the fresh mountain air at least once a year.

Q. Favourite hang-out in Dubai?

The beach. I like to walk down the beach at sundown. It’s my way of relaxing after a rough day at the office.

Q. Makeup essentials?

Ha ha I should have known this would come up! Nothing. I don’t wear makeup. Maybe an organic moisturiser or good old coconut oil.

Q. Heels or flats?

Flats in the day, heels at night.

Comptoir 102

102 Beach Rd, Jumeirah 1