Living in Saudi Arabia with her husband, Diana was told she was not allowed to work. She should stay at home!
This is a true inspirational story of a woman who, when everything was against her, decided never to give up on her dream ...
My name is Diana Soukar. I am thirty-two years old, a wife and mother to a beautiful girl. Originally, I was a Circassian from southwest Russia. I was born in Syria and studied architecture and interior design in Sudan – Africa.
Since the day of my graduation, I have had the desire to run my own business. I always had a passion for art and design and believed that if you used art in the right form, you could make a statement in any field. I was always amazed by the success stories of artists, architects, and fashion designers; how they started small and grew their businesses bigger over time.
Those stories were my motivation. To be honest, I am very overwhelmed to be telling my own success story now. This is my story …
Living in Saudi Arabia – Told To Stay At Home
After getting married, I moved to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where it was so hard for me to just find a job. Firstly because as an architect, the sector was only available to men. Secondly, as a resident accompanying my husband, I was not allowed to go to work - I was advised I should stay at home!
If I were to stay at home, I decided I would use my circumstances to move toward my dream of running my own business. I taught myself, through online tutorials, how to use various design programs. I completed an online marketing course with Google. I used this new knowledge to start freelancing projects from home - like designing logos for small businesses and designing catalogs and business cards. But I knew I could do more.
Things Go Wrong!
I thought about starting an event planning company. I knew I had the skills and passion! I found someone who would fund my project, and he was super excited about it. I did the research, prepared my business plan, found a vendor, and talked to the hotels and suppliers. I was so excited about my new venture.
But …. just when everything was set and we were about to sign the contract, the man who was going to fund my project pulled out of the deal and turned his back on me. It was like the dream I had been working so hard for collapsed around me. I was left there, very sad and devastated. It was one of the worst times I had ever been through.
Eventually, I pulled myself out from the rubble of my broken dreams and decided to try finding a job again. I had given up on the idea of my own business and started freelancing as a procurement manager for a company marketing gift items. As the company saw my skills, they promoted me to creative director of the marketing and promotional department.
I started traveling for my job. I visited China, east Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Gulf. Those business trips gave me a better vision of what I wanted and how to achieve my goals.
Four years later, my job was still going perfectly. When … I was forced to leave my job. My residence ID stated that, as a wife, I was not permitted to work. And the company was forced to let me go.
Try, Try and Try Again!
Once again, I started to look for new opportunities to start a business using my creative talents from home.
I created some new fashion designs - Abayas and Kaftans - but I wasn’t entirely happy with the results. So, I decided not to pursue this idea as a business.
“I suppose fashion design is not my thing. Let me try with shoes,” I said to myself.
I ordered some books online and started studying and reading about shoes and how they were made.
I found leather manufactured in Italy and negotiated with shoemakers who agreed to manufacture my designs. I set-up an online platform that would sell my shoes. My shoe store was ready. My brand and boxes were ready to go. I was ready. I was finally in business!
One year after launching my first line, I had sold six pairs of shoes … and they were bought by my family members and friends. So, that was the end of my shoe idea. I spent days and nights reading and trying to discover what I was doing wrong and why nothing was working for me.
Inspired By Nature
One day, I was lying on the beach. I closed my eyes and felt the warmth of the sand on my body. “Sand! Yes! Sand as jewelry! Not in a cheap way, but as beautiful, elegant pieces to adorn the body.” I started reading about the benefits of sand, the good vibes, plus the positive energy that sand gives…
Like when you run soft, white sand through the tips of your fingers and slide your toes deeper into the warm beach sand, letting the sunshine wash over your face. The feeling is calm, tranquil and overtly happy. This was the inspiration I was waiting for.
Making My Dream a Reality
I started working on my designs using natural beach sand. I envisioned the sand “earthing” or “grounding” us, connecting us to our planet and absorbing the earth's energy. That was the feeling I wanted to create; a transformation through wearing the pieces. I wanted the collection to be contemporary, stylish, and eternally timeless.
I found the perfect craftsman to turn my designs into pieces of wearable art. All the pieces were inspired by nature, from straight lines to curvy ones. The Eclipse collection was inspired by the moon, a statement range full of half-circles and bold lines. The Drop collection was inspired by a water droplet.
I designed my pieces to be unique and handmade, inviting you back to the serenity of a quiet, empty beach.
I designed my pieces to be unique and handmade, inviting you back to the serenity of a quiet, empty beach. I wanted the pieces to be special, the most incredible gift for a wife, best friend or sister, helping you to give the gift of tranquility, calmness and beauty.
Getting My Brand Noticed
Happy with my designs, it was time to get my jewelry out to the world. I personally designed my website and got to work managing my brand, the PR, marketing, advertising and social media. I even did my own modelling!
I thank my number one support and backbone - my family; my loving husband and the eyes of my adorable daughter, who shares her ideas with me all the time. The efforts are paying off, and my designs are getting noticed … even by big names!
Invited To Paris Fashion Week
I was invited as a guest to Paris fashion week last season. Now, I see myself displaying my collection in the coming years. Influencers and celebrities fell in love with my designs and my brand. I was featured in magazines and appeared on a TV talk show to talk about my jewelry.
I am so glad I didn’t give up on my dreams … the event planning idea, the fashion, the jobs, the shoes … With each step, I have learned something new that has led me to where I am today. I find myself happier and more determined each time I make a new design. I love designing. I love art and love that I can use my creative talents to earn an income online.
For you, who thought it would be impossible to start a business doing what you love ... I want to inspire you. This is me, living my dream (with all the flops along the way). I’m here, loving what I do. It might look impossible. There are times when you want to give up.
But, please, never give up. No matter how many people put you down or how many times you fall or fail, there is always hope, and it’s never too late for a new start!
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This story is so inspiring! I loved the way she stood up every time for her dream. Learned something today. Thanks a lot for sharing her story.
SO Inspiring!!! I will be following her journey for sure:)
Inspirational. Continue to motivate and empower people to chase their dreams. Never lose sight.
What an incredible and inspiring story! I enjoyed reading it SO much! Diana – you are someone to be admired! Thank you for sharing this amazing post <3
Obviously an inspirational post for women, who need to break down barriers wherever they are in the world, but I think this will also encourage anyone looking to start up their own business.
Thanks Phill. It’s also great to see men reading a story from a women’s perspective – thank you for sharing your thoughts.