We all grow up dreaming of what we want to be when we’re older. Kuwaiti-Palestinian Deena Alawaid, had always been fascinated by hairstyling. “I knew from my early days as a child that I enjoyed hairstyling, as is evident from the many experiments I conducted on my Barbie dolls, cutting their hair, doing makeovers, and even styling them over and over again,” she laughs. Soon, she is set to open her own salon, called Collective, in the heart of Dubai’s Al Quoz area. At just 28-years-old, she proves that with hard work and determination, you can make your dreams come true.
Born in Canada, Alawaid began her career by enrolling in hair school in her hometown of Halifax. There she honed her craft before moving to Dubai in August 2013. “This was when I decided I wanted to dive full force into this career and network as much as I could. And this country allowed me to do so,” she says. Working in salons across the city, her work began to be featured in some of the region’s biggest publications, including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.
Always looking to further her knowledge, she attended global Fashion Weeks where she assisted hair legend Guido Palau backstage. “The chaos and adrenaline of it all is something you cannot really imagine until you experience it. I just love seeing everything come together for the final moment,” she explains. Alongside the salon and her other commitments, which include being an Ambassador for Dyson Hair, she will continue working backstage at Fashion Weeks, but on a smaller scale.
Now, her focus is on the launch of Collective. “I wanted to break the boundaries of a male-dominated industry and bring more international buzz to a city which has so much potential,” explains Alawaid on why this is the right time to strike out on her own. Added to this she says, “I always felt that everywhere I worked I kind of had to choose between salon, or editorial, or fashion. The hair industry is huge, and a stylist can do it all. I want to share everything I have learned with other stylists and provide them with a chance to build their own brand.”
“Give women this moment…”
Arriving in Dubai in January, the award-winning team will fly in from the UK, Denmark, and Los Angeles. “My clients are very international themselves. They love to travel and draw inspiration for beauty from on and off the runway. They keep up with the trends, and in many ways love to create their own,” says Alawaid.
As for the salon’s design, she’s opted for a modern, yet relaxed aesthetic. Again, pushing a female focus, every item of furniture has been customized by a female business owner as has the layout and marketing strategy. “I felt it was very important to give women this moment as a symbol of breaking boundaries in a male-dominated industry,” explains Alawaid. It’s not just your normal salon experience either. A hair color bar has been created so that clients can be involved in the mixing, a photo booth is ready to capture your new look and she’s also collaborated with XO Coffee Boutique to offer their products to clients.
Set to open on the second week of January, everything is going to plan. Speaking about her biggest challenge, Alawaid says, “It’s trusting other people to bring my vision to life. I am so involved in everything I do, I had to learn how to trust the process. My team is incredible, and they have made it all possible.” A true inspiration in the region’s hair industry, Alawaid wants collective to motivate others to follow their dreams. Her advice for those looking to follow in her footsteps? “If you feel something can be changed, change it. I really hope Middle Eastern women who want to excel in this industry feel inspired to do so,” she concludes.