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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming A CEO

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ibrahim Alhaidos, Founder of Fursan, the world’s finest luxury handbags

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Penske: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your "backstory"?

I grew up in a house with a family of perfectionists. Everything was precise and to measure. My mother was so exact that when she sets the table, she measured the distance between the plate and cutlery!

For this reason, I cannot accept anything but perfection with Fursan. I am obsessed with creating the finest quality handbags in the world, and nothing else will do.

Having grown up with ladies who loved luxury and high-end fashion, I have always had an affinity for leather goods. liked watching the details of handbags and how they are designed and constructed.

Since Paris, London and Milan were frequent vacation destinations for my family; I became familiar with brands like Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Christian Dior having walked past their stores a million times. I was always jealous when I saw their bags embossed with "Paris" as the origin of the brand or “Florence” stamp on Gucci’s bags and “Roma” stamp on Fendi’s.

Since a young age, I developed this passion and decided that I will one day have a brand that I will create and it will have “Qatar” embossed on its items as it’s origin.

Penske: Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

When I started my business, I wanted to have a brand that competes with the quality of grade A brands. I have always benchmarked the quality to Hermes (France) and Gucci (Italy). And since Italians are known for their artisan hands and best craftsmen-ship, I headed to Italy to look for handbag manufacturers. Then I headed to Milan to attend Lineapelle the world's finest leather exhibition.

When I left the event, I had spoken to several impressive manufacturers, but I was a bit disappointed that I was going home without having found "the one."

In the train on my way to the airport, I sat next to a gentleman who started a conversation with me by saying, “I like your handbag, this model was made in 2005. What do you think of the quality?"

I was surprised because he specifically knew the year of the collection and I told him yes I have had this bag for couple of years and I love it and I admire the craftsmanship put into it.

Then he smiled at me saying that his company had manufactured this model. This is when the conversation got really interesting. I told him what I was there for and I showed him the FURSAN designs in the file.

I explained the whole concept of the brand. The man was surprised at what he saw. He loved the design and told me that this bag should be the “it handbag.” During his decades of work, this is the most unique design that he had ever seen.

He invited me to come to his factory. I was hesitant because this meant I had to change my flight. But something inside me kept telling me that I must go. So before I knew it, I was on the phone changing my flight.

I was amazed by his facility. I discovered that they also make bags for Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, and Gucci.

This is how I found my manufacturer, 100% by coincidence!

Penske: So what exactly does your company do?

We are a luxury brand specializing in making high handbags and small leather items, Silk scarf and other silk items by artisan craftsmen from Italy.

Our designs are imbibed with creativity and yet are well structured to meet the desires of a refined woman. The collection is a distinctive blend of modernity and elegance and is impeccable for all occasions. The material for each piece has been handpicked to bring out the light and mystique of a Fursan woman who stands out in the crowd. A single artisan works on a single piece of merchandise, thus ensuring the uniformity of design. The final result is a handbag with timeless charm; an indispensable accessory that turns each woman into an icon of elegance and style while showcasing a cultural heritage that is unique to the Arabian Gulf.

Penske: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We have a unique story trying to compete with the world's top fashion brands in Italy and France. Each Fursan bag is truly one of a kind. The quality makes our of the design is what makes us stand out and attract attention.

I started the brand at a critical time in 2009 when the term "luxury brand" was merely an adjective held in reserve for a few big names. Penetrating the market and reaching customers has not been easy.

However, Fursan was fortunate to enter the American market be carried by celebrities. Soon word spread throughout Europe and Asia. Our online sales have been fantastic and encouraged us to open our flagship boutique in Qatar.

Penske: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I’ve always surrounded myself with amazing people who inspire, encourage, and give me moral support daily. But if I have to name one particular person it would be my Aunt Sabah Al-Haidoos who has been very supportive during good and bad, ups and downs. Her success also drives me. Currently, she is chief executive officer of Silatech, member Al Jazeera channel, and director of Education Institute of the Supreme Education Council in Qatar.

Penske How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? (This might be used as your “hero statement” under the heading of the article.)

My purpose of creating Fursan was not just driven by my passion for fashion, luxury, or generating profits. I created Fursan because I wanted to participate in the robust economic growth of Qatar.

I'd like to encourage fashion tourism and put Qatar on the fashion map alongside Paris, Milan, London and New York.

Penske: What are your "5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO" and why.

1. It’s ok to not achieve the results that you want 100% of the time. Perfection is something to strive for, but most of the time it's not realistic.

2. Evaluate and appreciate your employee's skills and be aware that each of them is different Just because that if you are a multi-tasking or you can work on different projects at the same time, some people can’t do the same.

3. Be yourself and speak your mind, you have reached this position because of who you are.

4. Be humble and show your human side to your employees.

5. Supervision is necessary sometimes but micromanaging your employees will show that you don’t trust their ability and will eventually make them feel unnecessary and unwanted.

Penske: Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)

I’d love to meet Oprah Winfrey. She has been so successful with everything she does. I must know how she has been able to be successful in so many diverse endeavors.

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