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Sara Chemmaa, founder, Citron

Sara Chemmaa, founder of Citron

Founded in 2018, Dubai-based Citron creates sustainable lifestyle products for toddlers, children and adults.

What do you look for when hiring talent?  

Having built Citron from the ground up, I know just how important it is to surround yourself with the right “village” to help things progress. My first priority when hiring is to find people with the right attitude.

Skills can be taught, but natural passion and an ability to connect with our story will ensure they go the extra mile to make Citron grow.  

What counts for more – luck or hard work?   

Luck is nice, but hard work is ultimately what will always make the most difference.  

What was your biggest ‘lucky’ moment?  

I think that would have to be immediately selling out at the launch of our new collection. As the owner of a company, its output is so close to your heart and you hope for, at least, some of your audience to love it as much as you do. But I never dreamt we would experience such a positive response. 

Managing production, global logistics and supply chains very often requires a little bit of luck that’s for sure, but with double digit growth year on year and over 500,000 units sold, the hard work is definitely paying off.

What one thing do you wish you’d done differently?   

Making more bold decisions. I think female entrepreneurs, especially working mothers, can easily be persuaded that boldness isn’t an appropriate trait, but in reality, we have so much to offer. We shouldn’t be afraid of making that bold choice and being assertive while we do it. 

If you could rule the world for a day, what would you change? 

I think now, more than ever, my focus is on how we can build a better future for us, our children and our children’s children, so I would want to:

  1. Reduce poverty.
  2. Reduce global wastage of energy and food.
  3. Ensure all kids have access to adequate healthcare.

What three factors do entrepreneurs misjudge about the Gulf market?

  1. The level of diversity and difference between each of the Gulf countries. Many people assume we have the same rules, cultures and regulations when in fact there can be vast discrepancies between even the closest of neighbours. 
  2. The population size of the Gulf countries is much smaller than those of European nations, despite some of them having stronger spending power. 
  3. I think a lot of people don’t realise that the Gulf market audience is primarily a young one. 

Dream mentor?

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has always been such a hero of mine and I have always admired how he refuses to let success go to his head. He is so committed to helping others, both at home and abroad. 

Gates is an example of how it is possible to use your success for good. Giving back should be a responsibility we all share.