Arkan Plaza Powerhouse Working Mothers
Sara & Nadia Badreldine on Balancing Children & Careers
By Shorouk Abbas and Lydia Schoonderbeek
The term “effortless working women” is bandied about a lot these days. But if a
ny women are truly deserving of it, it’s Sara & Nadia Badreldine. The duo have spent almost 2 years marketing Arkan Plaza into what it has now become, thanks in part to being strong minded business women. The 2 cousins have transformed this venue from vision into reality, making it the destination for most 6th October residents everyday.
There is no better place for Cairo East Magazine to enjoy a morning coffee in the sunshine than at Arkan Plaza with the duo powerhouse working moms, the Badreldines.
CEM – Tell us briefly about your background?
SB- I have a degree in Textile Design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London where I specialized in weaving. I then came back to Cairo and started Artissimo a furniture store, which also sold hand painted textiles that I personally made. I did that for a couple of years and then I joined my family business, namely Arkan Plaza. I am also a mother to an 8 month-old daughter.
NB- I studied at AUC, upon finishing my degree in Economics I started working with the US AID, which I later left to start working with my father. I first started working in real estate in Sheikh Zayed in 2004. I had my 2 children and then began working on marketing and developing Arkan Plaza.
What were the major challenges you faced getting up and running?
SB- To start with, it was hard to get people convinced with the concept, especially realtors and restaurant owners. It was also hard to maintain the standard of clientele with the service that we provide; therefore most cafés and restaurants have added a minimum charge. Also the cleanliness of the venue is of upmost importance to us, if you look around you will never see any outdoor advertising or flyers throughout. Luckily we didn›t need to market the venue, slowly word started to spread and a gradual flow of people started coming to Akran Plaza.
How involved are you in the day-to-day management?
NB- We are very involved as we are always in direct contact with each of the tenants and clients here at Arkan Plaza, we know everyone that is running a business here by name, and in return they contact us directly for any issues. It is important that you build strong reliable relationships with your clients, it’s a great foundation to start work from.
What three things have contributed most to your success?
SB- Firstly, working well as a team, nobody wants to prove herself/himself on her/his own. Secondly, simple hard work and effort, as I value what we do. Finally, growing up in a working family environment has instilled a strong work ethic in me.
If you knew then what you know now, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
NB- That life isn›t as simple and easy as I thought it would be. That life is not fair and one does have to be realistic. So I have started telling my son this, so it is drummed into him.
When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going?
SB- When I have a tough day, I just keep going and I don›t want to stop and think about what it is slowing me down. Also exercising regularly helps getting all the negative energy out. Spending time with my daughter after a long day at work is the best way to unwind. More importantly the thought that things could be worse keeps me going.
NB- Persistence, being patient and doing things yourself. I am used to doing things on my own from A to Z. My father taught me something from a very young age, for example when a client wanted to buy a property from him, he would be with the buyer from the beginning of making the decision right until he/she has moved into the property. The buyer needs to develop a relationship based on trust with you, which means you need to be present in every singledecisions and detail. You show dedication to your client and in return you gain respect and potentially a sale.
How do you achieve balance in your life between having a career and being a mother?
SB – It is very challenging, you will never know how hard it is having a child until you have one. A good mother is always a happy mother, which means that I am content when I am working. As long as you give your child quality time that is more important for me than quantity. I am a role model for my daughter, and I am trying to be the best I can be.
What do you do for fun?
NB- I enjoy painting, travelling, and I like to go on holidays with my husband. We›re both part of a book club, with a lovely group of people where we discuss the book that has been assigned to us, but a lot of the time the conversation veers off to our daily issues, which makes me realize we all have issues.
For a woman (or anyone starting their own business), what are the three most critical factors to consider?
NB- In Egypt we have a huge gender issue. You have to be very careful how you delegate. Most times it can be looked at in a demeaning manner and then you have an ego to deal with. Also juggling work and my personal life is quiet tough, as the responsibility lies mainly within the woman’s role.
What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
NB- The best decision was going back to work after having my children, which was hard as I was also going back to work in a new field that was alien to me. The worst decision? There never is one, as with every bad decision made hopefully there is a lesson learned.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
SB- I wanted to be a psychologist at one point, and then I wanted to be an architect.
NB – The earliest memory of my first dream job was that I wanted to be a singer or an artist.
What woman inspires you and why?
SB – My mother, she has always worked and is a very determined lady and I have always looked up to her especially as she had a very difficult childhood.
NB – My mother, she was always an independent woman and has always worked. In the 60’s my mother was sent to the U.S as part of an exchange program with the AFS and back then not many women were allowed to travel abroad by their parents. That alone tells you what kind of women she is.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
SB- iPad, lip balm and water
NB- Sunscreen, iPad and a paintbrush
Best advice you’ve been given?
NB- Never give up, even if it is the end of the tunnel. You just keep going, always be positive