Stepping into the forefront of the business her father established, Lobna Farid has big dreams for her company, Madar Home Signatures. eniGma’s Mana Swadek sat down with the CEO to learn about the challenges she faced and how she plans to make her mark.
A long-established name in the Egyptian market, Madar Home Signatures is the premier showroom for luxurious home décor needs, known for carrying prestigious international brands like Fendi Casa, Baccarat Casa, and Trussardi Casa. Having recently been handed the reins of the firm by her famous father, artist Ahmed Farid, Lobna Farid is now creating a name for herself as the leader of the prestigious showroom.
A graduate of the American University in Cairo with a degree in Economics, Farid started her career in the marketing department of her father’s company, Baraka Optics, where she worked from 2003-2011. It was a job she was comfortable in, but it wasn’t her passion. In 2011, due to a change in personal circumstances necessitating that she works at a location closer to her home, she moved to Madar Home Signatures. “It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, even though I was nervous at the beginning because I had never worked in the interiors field before. Surprisingly, I loved it and I found out I was good at it. If my circumstances had not changed, I never would have moved to that job.”
Today she is CEO of the company and has found her passion in the world of interiors. But it has not been without its challenges. “I quickly learned that there was so much that I had to learn, so I started taking courses in interior design. I took classes with Mona Hussein, and received an interior design diploma with Mohamed Noaman at the American University of Cairo. I later took courses at the University of the Arts in London,” Farid explains. “Now that I am juggling so many aspects of the business, I feel that I need to gain even more knowledge. I am taking a course in finance to develop the skills to create the business that I want,” she adds.
Her determination to learn the ropes of the business is a testament to her drive to be taken seriously, and to be worthy of the CEO position. The pressure of trying to fill her father’s shoes is evident. “For anyone who knows my father, Ahmed Farid, they know that he is the epitome of a one man show. He has an acute awareness of every aspect of his business. Besides being a self-taught artist, he speaks several languages, which he also learned on his own. He is also very advanced in the tech world through his own independent research. If he wants to learn something, he does. It’s that simple.” Once her father saw that she was capable of the task at hand, he gradually stepped back.
Although she is now taking the controls from her father, she still works very closely with him. “I take his opinion on everything, more or less. I am more courageous in voicing my opinion, but when we disagree, he usually ends up being right,” Farid admits, paying tribute to his history and experience in the field. When asked about the best advice that her father has given her, Farid explains, “Where there is a will, there is a way. If you work hard, your vision can become a reality.”
Farid explains that the fuel that keeps her business going is her clients’ satisfaction. “I am happy when my client is happy. When I work on a project for a client, I do it as if it is for me,” she explains. This integrity is just one of the many attributes that keeps her clients coming back. “I do my best to help clients understand my vision, including with 3D rendering. At the end of the day my goal is to make the client happy,” she adds.
While the main focus of the company is residential projects, Madar Home Signatures does commercial projects as well. Recently, Farid worked on her most challenging project to date, the Dr. Adel Sadek Psychiatric Hospital. “This was a difficult project because some aspects of the design had to be the opposite of what I am used to. For example, I could not use big windows at all, since this could constitute a risk to the patients. We used a lot of small windows, while making sure the result was pleasing to the eye. We had to be aware of so many little things that I had never thought of before. But by working closely with the hospital owner and a very talented designer on my team, we were able to create something really lovely!” Farid exclaims.
With a determination to take things to the next level, Farid is now working on MDR, a locally crafted furniture line that she hopes one day will gain international recognition. “We have very talented craftsmen here in Egypt who can create beautiful pieces to show on the international stage. I hope to create a furniture line that will be exhibited in international furniture fairs. My long-term goal is to be able to export an Egyptian made furniture line. I would also like for Madar Home Signatures to have a complete, full interior design studio, and ultimately, I would like for us to have Madar Construction. This is a big dream, but we can do it.”
Commenting on the difficult, yet growing design market in Egypt, Farid confidently concludes, “We are a company that has been around since 1998. It is a difficult field, but the demand is there. We just have to work harder. The reward comes when you complete a project and the client is pleased. Ultimately, that is the key to our success.”