With fashion being an industry that is so dynamic, many women find it hard to achieve that work/life balance. Taking a break from a world where the only constant is change can be daunting. In fact most professional Instagram accounts can be dizzying. While social media has just added one more layer to the frenzied pace of fashion, it can also be a tool that allows professionals to take a pause yet be connected.
Almost anyone who works in retail in the Middle East would know the name Rania Masri El Khatib. Having worked with the Chalhoub Group for over 14 years, she was behind some of their most innovative concepts, such as Level Shoes, so when at the start of 2021 she announced that she would be taking a sabbatical, many in the industry were surprised. “Many people ask me what’s next? What are you planning? It makes me wonder why we have always felt the need to box people in and to have a clear definition of what their role in this world is,” says the 40-something professional.
Through her use of social media, it does seem as though the former fashion boss is becoming a voice on a range of issues – from women in the workplace to how to build a retail business in this region. “I know that I am generating a lot of thoughts through many channels lately,” says Masri El Khatib. “It’s something that has always come naturally to me in the workplace, and today I am doing it outside of the workplace.” She recently hosted a room at Clubhouse focusing on storytelling for brands and interviewed the founders of Dubai-based brand Montroi, Samir Aghera and Enrique Hormigo. The label recently opened their own flagship at Mall of Emirates. In the room were many noted members of the industry including The Modist founder Ghizlan Guenez and Firras Alwahabi, who runs public relations consultancy Faux. “I enjoyed my Clubhouse room a lot,” says Masri El Khatib. “I felt it was amazing to be able to democratize information. I feel that in the past you had to be privileged to have access to certain information, opinion leaders, experts etc., but with such a platform, it is there for anyone who is curious enough to listen and learn.”
On Instagram, Masri El Khatib’s been hosting IGTV sessions where she discusses issues such as how to measure success. While her following is niche, it is resonating with many top-level female executives in the retail business. Many younger fashion labels are also following her – as her knowledge of fashion is informed and shows you can remain connected even if you’re taking time off. In fact you can use that time to really expand your network. “Social media can be amazing if we have the discipline and the eye to use it to what serves us best,” she says. “That isn’t always easy. I’m trying to make sure to engage with the community of people that follow my journey and that has given social media, for me, a new meaning.”