UNTOLD EXPAT STORIES. ‘I started out as a customer service staff.’ – Cheryle Dias, founder and managing director of International Fashion Week Dubai

Cheryle Dias shares her journey from taking customers’ queries at a reception desk in Dubai to being among the world’s fashion icons.

‘I am a very passionate person. I am focused. I make things happen. I started as a customer service staff. I sat at the reception and handled queries from clients. After my three-year contract expired, I jumped to a shipping company where I became general manager, owing to my degrees. Then I started pursuing a career in fashion.

‘Fashion is my passion. I enjoy every bit of it. You can make a trend by styling yourself and people will follow. Nothing is fixed. It’s how you style yourself.’

By Jojo Dass

International Fashion Week Dubai, which will have its 12th season this November, is among iconic events the city is known for.

But did you know that the woman behind this very successful event, now also being held in major European cities, started out as a construction company customer service staff?

It was 2002 and having just arrived in Dubai, Cheryle Dias had to start somewhere.

“I am a very passionate person. I am focused. I make things happen,” says Cheryle. 

“I started as a customer service staff. I sat at the reception and handled queries from clients. After my three-year contract expired, I jumped to a shipping company where I became general manager, owing to my degrees,” she added.

Cheryle has an MBA with a major in marketing. She also has a master’s degree in Fine Arts with major in fashion designing and textile.

‘Fashion is my passion.’

Eight years on, Cheryle started pursuing a career in fashion designing, landing different jobs till she finally launched her own label – Cheryle Dias Bridal and Couture, which is currently available in Paris and in several Dubai fashion houses.

“Fashion is my passion,” says Cheryle, who is from Goa, a Portuguese colony in India that gained its independence in the 1950s.

“I enjoy every bit of it,” added Cheryle, a happily married mother of three kids.

Cheryle said a fashion trend is a matter of taste and originality.

“You can make a trend by styling yourself and people will follow,” says Cheryle. “Nothing is fixed. It’s how you style yourself.”

She said designers struggle with so many thoughts in mind whenever they launch their label. “How should it be done? Will the marker accept it? There are so many things in your mind when you launch a label? How do you start? Starting is very critical for fashion designers,” Cheryle says.

Cheryle word-of-mouth marketing got her to where she is now.

Words of advice

“I started with bridals. It became my identity,” she says. 

“Then, I started getting inquiries about evening gowns and so I did evening gowns. It’s a step-by-step thing and soon I was getting inquiries about ready-to-wears. It’s all word-of-mouth. It’s very important for a fashion designer to market herself or himself,” Cheryle added.

Marketing yourself as a fashion designer is just half the work, says Cheryle; the other half is knowing who your market is, she added.

“It is also very important for a fashion designer to know her or his target market,” she says.

But how does one develop a market?

Cheryle says endorsement by influencers and celebrities help. “But if you don’t have the capacity, you will need to make use of the social media, which is very, very important for a fashion designer” she says.

There’s a bit of caveat though, she said. The design can be copied but not to worry, Cheryle said. “They can’t copy all. They can’t copy what’s on your mind. You are the creator and you can keep creating,” she added.

International Fashion Week Paris will have its fourth season come September this year; Milan will have its fifth also in September; while New York and London will finally have their inaugural edition likewise in September.

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