An AMEinfo exclusive with opportunity seeker, creator, and facilitator 29-year-old Stephanie Farah, who over the past 4 years has built three fledgling yet successful businesses from the get-go.
Portrait of a winner
Stephanie is the CEO & Founder of Empyre Communications, a Dubai-based creative boutique PR agency that oversees a number of highly acclaimed local and international luxury, hospitality, F&B, corporate, travel, tech, and fashion clients.
Four years earlier, she was herself a hardworking PR professional servicing a substantial portfolio of clients, some of whom she later brought on board as partners in her two other ventures.
“I had a character test in one of the agencies I used to work for, and based on the results, I was someone with the potential of being a leader. At age 24, I was flattered,” Stephanie disclosed during a candid video conference.
“I was always a very social person and I quickly learned how to adopt the characteristics of leaders whose tactics I’ve always been fascinated with.”
And Stephanie had plenty to learn from the 20 clients she vigorously handled, a rich portfolio of some of the most renowned local, regional and international brands such as Ferrari, Viacom (MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central), Jumeirah Restaurant Group, and JW Marriott Marquis, to name a few.
“I put in the hours and discovered a leader in me that wanted to start a business. I grew up in Dubai and knew many people, so I took advantage of my contacts and experience which I had acquired during my extensive work at agencies,” Stephanie said.
“My many sleepless nights staying at work had molded my personality, structured my mind, armed me with various tactics, and taught me how to hustle and multitask.”
When Stephanie launched Empyre Communications, she became the youngest PR agency owner at the time, and it got her traction and off to a great start.
“PR will be part of the future but with a different scope of work and focus. As the world shifted to the digital realm, we quickly transformed as clients wanted to gain momentum in the online world,” Stephanie said.
Digital ad campaigns are part of several digital marketing strategies available with Empyre’s one-stop-shop service offerings.
“Agencies were not putting too much effort into digital ad campaigns but we introduced this service very early on and grew significantly not only on the PR side but also with the array of digital marketing services we offer,” Stephanie said, adding “We intertwine and create a strategic balance for our clients, between social media, PR, and digital marketing activities.”
And with Empyre, Stephanie was not going to repeat the mistake that many agencies were prone to make: Overload PR staff with client accounts.
Stephanie explained: “During my agency employment, I was stretched thin, and although I was able to deliver, it was very challenging. So, I wanted to create an agency where people handled a maximum of 10 clients at one time, not 12, 15 or 20 as other agencies did.”
“This way, my staff is relaxed, and we can focus on quality results, retain satisfied clients for a very long time and who gladly provided us with leads and referrals as they felt we were almost an extension of their teams, instead of just being a 3rd party service.”
Empyre’s expanding PR portfolio includes TIER Mobility, Rehlaty by Dnata Travel, Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sheikha Salama Bint Hazza Al Nahyan (The granddaughter of UAE’s founder Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan), Dusit Hotels, Smart Acres, Idealz, Opaala, Seven Sisters, Cartlow, Zaroob, Mitts & Trays, Specialized Rehabilitation Hospital (SRH) in Abu Dhabi, and many more.
Innovation in renovation
The Tile & Wrap Society is the second of Stephanie’s businesses which has rapidly grown and changed the interior landscape of homes with revolutionary products and services using 3D Peel and Stick Tiles, and Architectural Vinyl Wrapping services.
I know. You must be asking “What has that got to do with Stephanie’s media and agency background?”
The answer lies in this question: What do entrepreneurs do?
They find solutions.
Stephanie recounted the story of that business which began in July 2020, smack in the middle of the pandemic: “I love interior design and during the 2020 lockdown period in Dubai, I was working from home and I thought about sprucing things up, starting with my kitchen, which was tasteless and outdated.”
“But I couldn’t find anything in Dubai to upgrade the backsplash. After a bit of research, I came across a product that was only available in the US, 3D Peel and Stick Tiles, and immediately both myself and my partner, Mostafa, realized how needed this was in the UAE.”
“We quickly created the business model, and I took courses worth over UAE 10,000 dirhams to learn how to do e-commerce and we launched our company with the pilot product being the 3D Peel and Stick tiles.”
Following a pre-launch campaign, orders poured in from day 1.
“Since inception, we introduced another popular service called Architectural Vinyl Wrapping, which has taken the business to the next level. The company has grown substantially over the past 11-12 months, with 250 plus homes opting for our unique, non-traditional renovation services that bring 360-degree solutions to the home and turn them around in 24-48 hours,” Stephanie said.
“I call it the ‘new age’ of renovation, since today, no one will be going for a full-on, traditional renovation. It’s expensive and time-consuming, taking weeks or months, whereas ours is low-cost, 70-80% cheaper than traditional renovation, and can be completed in one or two days’ work, and lasts you 10-15 years,” Stephanie indicated.
Getting businesses up and running
Stephanie has recently founded her third venture as the Co-Founder of Stor.ae, an e-commerce solutions business that provides website creation, order fulfillment, and distribution on various aggregators.
Stor is a single platform for brand owners to find warehousing, distribution, fulfillment, and last-mile solutions for their e-commerce business. Stor manages customer’s inventory in temperature-controlled facilities, pick & pack online orders, and deliver them safely to their final destination.
“We launched Stor because there was a massive increase in e-commerce players and we want to be the go-to platform for those embarking on their digital journey, as well as those who are already there looking to scale,” Stephanie said.
Using an online store builder, Stor helps companies open online storefronts, and assists businesses in getting on to popular aggregators.
“So, if it is food that businesses are selling, we can help them get on Talabat, Deliveroo, and Careem, and if it is consumer products for sale we have Amazon, Noon, and others with whom we have pre-established partnerships, not to mention contacts in all the right marketplaces.”
What’s next for Stephanie? Are three businesses enough?
“I think I will go the F&B route at some point, as I have a huge portfolio in hospitality. It seems natural. But it will have to be an original concept.”