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Five minutes with… The Happy Box co-founder Jumana Al Darwish

Five minutes with… The Happy Box co-founder Jumana Al Darwish

An insight into the start-up that provides educational boxes for children

Five minutes with... The Happy Box co-founder Jumana Al Darwish

What was your inspiration behind Happy Box?

Finding true happiness. From the outside, one would think I had it all; a beautiful and healthy family, friends that are white gold, a career, safety and security. However, something was missing in my life and that was quality time with my loved ones. I knew other families out there felt the same. Life is so demanding, and just taking a few moments here and there to completely focus on family and on creating beautiful moments has to become a priority. These are the feelings that inspired The Happy Box; a social enterprise to assist in strengthening the family unit and spreading happiness.

How was the company founded and what is your background?

I am a 34 year old Jordanian mum of one who has called Dubai home for 10 years now . I grew up in the UN arena where my father was a diplomat for many years. Through the nature of his job, I have had the opportunity to live in a number of cities and meet people from an array of cultures and backgrounds. I always believed in making a difference and changing the world. Though for some this may sound ‘utopian- like’; I have always felt it has enlightened me and been a guiding force in many of the decisions I have taken throughout my life.

I followed in my father’s grand footsteps and acquired my Master’s of Science degree from the University of Oxford specialising in evidence based social intervention. I have held numerous positions with various governments and non-profit entities over the course of the past 12 years. Nearly two years ago, I left a beloved career working for Dubai Cares, to create and co-found The Happy Box, in an attempt to seek happiness and contentment and make family a priority.

What have been some of the biggest challenges in setting it up?

Learning to best manage our time and resources was key, as well as figuring out how to run a business from our homes. When we first launched the company I was still working full-time at Dubai Cares so it felt like there were not enough hours in the day and late nights as well as long weekends became the status quo. It is still like that today, despite the fact that the business is now my full-time job, but I really would not have it any other way. When you are passionate about something, it is not work anymore – it is part of your life and you cannot be without it. Logistics wise, there was the challenge of figuring out how to fit a business into our home. My house was taken over by everything to do with the company. Now, we have a dedicated studio where all the magic happens – bit by bit, we figured out how to make things work.

What additions or new product offerings are you planning for the Happy Box lineup?

We are always thinking of new and innovative products and services to offer to our clients. It is always busy at our studio. We really cannot wait to release what is next. You will have to just wait and see.

Do you have any plans for geographical expansion?

We definitely hope to have a global presence soon, without losing the principles and the foundation that the company was built on. We have been privileged enough to have received interest from countries all around the world eager to adopt our model. We had no idea we would grow so quickly or be such an instant success so we are incredibly grateful and ready to take it on. There is so much more we are hoping to launch – you will have to wait and see.

What advice would you give new companies starting out in the region?

1. Embrace the craziness. It will be chaotic, but it is worth it.

2. Never, ever give up on your dreams and your ideas, run with them and make them happen in any way you can. And do not be afraid of dreaming big – the bigger, the better.

3. Have a great support system. I really appreciate my family, friends and our team, they have helped us get where the brand is today.

4. Always work on solidifying great personal relationships because these relationships will be key in taking your business forward. I have learnt that the network of mumtrepreneurs in Dubai is made up of amazing ladies with beautiful ideas and the readiness to help you, work with you and advise you. It is just priceless. Never underestimate who you know, and always network, network, network.

5. Work hard and make sure that you have put your all into it and have no regrets

Are you hiring?

At the moment, we are operating at full capacity. But who knows in 6 months time where we will be, we may need an army of happy advocates.

What is your leadership style?

I believe my leadership style is both visionary and affiliative. I have a clear idea of where I would like the company to be and a road map to help us stay on track. It is never set in stone and is continuously adapted to suit the ever changing business climate and new market requirements.

I also believe greatly in the power of team work. Without a loyal workforce, one can never achieve true success. I am blessed to have an amazing team of happy officers that share our dream and are dedicated to making that dream a reality.

In my spare time I like to

I try really, really hard to spare 30 minutes a day to run or meditate. My schedule is really insane. But I truly believe that every entrepreneur should take care of their mind and body. When you are always on the go, sometimes all you need is a few minutes to yourself to recharge your energy levels and keep going.

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