As yet another challenging year draws to a close, we’re continuing our series on female entrepreneurs, recognising the female entrepreneurs who turned an obstacle into an opportunity. Case in point? Natasha Inman, who moved from the UK to Dubai in February 2020, just as the pandemic struck.
Like countless women around the globe, she spent a lot of her time during lockdown in her pyjamas and was therefore inspired to create something that looked sophisticated and elegant, but was super comfortable to wear – et voilà! Luxury sleepwear and loungewear brand State of REM was awakened. Today, Natasha is all about focusing her business on the things most important to her: living a healthy lifestyle, raising awareness around mental well-being, and treating oneself to things that elicit joy.
State of REM
What was your ‘lightbulb moment’?
I don’t really recall having a lightbulb moment. I remember thinking I wanted to try to create something better than what was in the market already in terms of sleepwear, as well as make a brand based around community, self-care, and wellness. I don’t have any experience in textiles or fashion design, but I’ve always been very interested in business and entrepreneurship. I’ve also always wanted to create something bigger than myself, so I saw this as a challenge. Now, my vision is to be the number one place globally for sleepwear, loungewear, and gifts, all of which are sleep-related. I want to use my brand to raise awareness of mental health and the support that is out there for people.
What makes your business unique?
I like to think of State of REM as a community, not just a brand. We create luxury sleepwear and loungewear investment pieces. We source the best materials and ensure every item we produce passes the most stringent of quality checks. I want my customers to be blown away with the quality and service and, so far, I’ve had a lot of happy customers.
Above all, I want to support a positive change in the world, and for me to use my brand to raise awareness of mental health and financially contribute to mental health support is an amazing feeling. State of REM is a platform where people can get self-care tips and quotes, discover ideas on living a healthy life, and even engage if they’re struggling with their mental health. And I don’t think there are many brands in the region that are doing this right now. As the brand grows, this emphasis will only get stronger.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Seeing some well-known regional influencers buy my product felt great – people I’ve been following for a while and whose style I’ve admired are now wanting to wear my pyjamas. Also, being able to donate AED 2,500 to Al Jalila Foundation after only 12 weeks was a proud moment. Building your own business is about making money, but being part of a positive change in the world is so satisfying.
Which other entrepreneurs do you admire?
I admire anyone who puts themselves out of their comfort zone and executes. It’s easy for a lot of people to have an idea, but to take it right through to execution and have that resilience and patience to keep going takes a lot of character. I tend to follow Reece Wabara (founder of Manière De Voir), George Heaton (founder of Represent Clo), Grace Beverley (founder of Tala & Shreddy), Rokeya Khanum (founder of Khanum’s), Conna Walker (founder of House of CB), Nicola Elliott (founder of NEOM). I admire them because most have founded something from nothing, creating a community and core cult following through just being a great brand. They live and breathe their businesses, like I do. They inspire me and I learn a lot from these people.
Are you a part of any mentor or support groups?
Not officially, but I’ve managed to grow my network considerably since starting State of REM, with lots of entrepreneurs and I connecting via social media. We share ideas, successes, and failures. I prefer to learn from podcasts and books. I think it’s amazing how I can listen to an inspiring entrepreneur on Spotify for an hour whilst he offloads 20 years of experience onto me.
Who is your biggest female business icon, and why?
I have lots of favourites, but I’d say Jo Malone. I’ve read her book and listened to lots of her podcasts. She’s a true inspiration – so many setbacks, yet an amazing amount of resilience. Whenever I think times are tough, I remember people like her have been through a lot more and it really drags me through. Not to mention, she created a globally recognised brand and has now started another.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
“Never give up” is what keeps me going. There are so many examples of brands in every industry that initially struggled and are now aspirational. Victoria Beckham didn’t make a profit for 11 years, Amina Muaddi is the most desired shoe company at the moment, yet she had a couple of failed businesses before that. Conna Walker had a failed jewellery brand, but is now every woman’s #girlbossgoals. There are so many examples, but the common denominator is that they never gave up and kept on going. An overnight success isn’t a feasible thing; everything takes time and effort.