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Pretty Shady ladies Zoe Cairns and Mallory Robinson

Pretty Shady Ladies

The Gaggler meets the girls behind…and underneath…the prettiest parasols in Dubai

Zoe Cairns and Mallory Robinson don’t put up with average. And they don’t want the rest of us to either. Fed up of their gardens lacking any kind of glamour, and perennially preoccupied with parasols, the Dubai-based childhood best friends decided to start making the very things they lusted after for their own homes – impossibly gorgeous garden parasols that were as practical as they were pretty. Little more than a month into their fledgling business launch, The Gaggler met the brains behind Pretty Shady Parasols to talk pandemic, making the world a prettier place, and why staying local will always be the focus of their fabulous business practice… 

HOW DID YOU MEET?

ZOE: We’ve known each other FOREVER, literally, since the day Mal came home from the hospital. We were the only kids on our street in London with expat mums. Best mates from day dot. We lived opposite each other and had walkie-talkies in bed, wore the same clothes, went on holiday together, were bridesmaids for each other – you get the picture. I’ve been in Dubai for 16 years and Mal has been here now for not even a year. It was a dream come true when she made the move over from Malta pre-Covid. We haven’t stopped laughing since. 

WHAT’S YOUR CAREER BACKGROUND? 

ZOE: Mal was in ad sales, business development and fundraising. I was working in magazines as a graphic designer.

Coastal Palm parasol and 3D concrete printed parasol base, Prettyshadyparasols.com

EXPLAIN YOUR BUSINESS IN A NUTSHELL 

MAL: There really weren’t any utterly beautiful and different garden umbrellas or fun umbrella stands in the UAE. So Pretty Shady Parasols began with the vision of creating glamorous garden umbrellas and outdoor accessories in bold, fabulous fabrics. We’re all about high-end garden gorgeousness. 

WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND PRETTY SHADY PARASOLS?  

ZOE: We were watching a very highbrow dating show on TV, and one of the dates introduced herself as ‘The Parasol Lady.’ Mal and I both love parasols, so we decided that we would like to be ‘Parasol Ladies’ too. Then we thought about how hard it was to come by any garden umbrellas that weren’t the usual boring brown or green and how they did nothing to help get your garden looking glam. We both had sludgy green ones at the time. It seemed like a no-brainer. 

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LAUNCH A BUSINESS THIS YEAR?  IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC?

MAL: Magazines were all going online which left Zoe out of work, and we both needed something that really engaged us and that we could make flexible around parenting. Especially with the joys of home-schooling this year…. 

WHAT ARE THE BIG FOCUS POINTS OF YOUR BUSINESS?  

ZOE: With so many people spending so much more time at home and in the garden, we wanted to make sure their outdoor space are the most gorgeous they can be so they can get the most pleasure from spending their time there.  

WHO IS THE PRETTY SHADY CUSTOMER?  

ZOE: Us! People who love the sunshine and living an outdoorsy lifestyle that like having pretty things in their homes. 

Blue Cranes Parasol, PRP AED 5500, available at prettyshadeparasols.com

HOW DO YOU DECIDE UPON WHAT YOU BUY OR CREATE?  

MAL: We are 100 per cent involved in the design and creation process. Everything we sell comes into being once we have answered just one question. Would we buy it? If not, we won’t make it. 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU WHEN CREATING YOUR PRODUCTS?  

ZOE: How do we want our gardens to look? What are the prints that stop us in our tracks and make us go ‘Wow! That’s gorgeous, and I want it in my house immediately’? 

WHERE ARE YOU SOURCING YOUR PRODUCTS? 

ZOE: We have to source from all over the place, such is the nature of the textile business, but the parasols, cushions, deckchairs and picnic rugs are all made here in the UAE. And wherever possible, the component parts of the parasols, like the bases and steel poles, are manufactured here in Dubai.  

IS SUSTAINABILITY A BIG CONSIDERATION FOR YOU? 

MAL: Absolutely. We do and will do whatever we can to make sure our products are sustainable. That’s why the bases, steel poles and canopies are made here in Dubai.  

From L-R: Pink Cactus, Coral Intersection and Pina Colada cushions, Prettyshadyparasols.com

HOW IMPORTANT IS SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESS TO YOU?  

ZOE: Very. If we can do it, we will do it. We all need to support one another right now. We make sure our component parts are made by small businesses within Dubai. Our bases are 3D printed locally. Our steel poles are manufactured locally.  Our canopies and other fabric items are stitched locally. Our embroidery is done further afield… in Umm Al Quwain. We really are as local as we possibly can be.

WHY DO YOU THINK SO MANY PEOPLE  LAUNCHED SMALL BUSINESSES IN 2020?  

MAL: There are so many reasons. For some it will be as simple as the need for their job to be flexible. For others it will be the ‘heck, life is short, let’s do it’ motivation.  Some people have probably wanted to do it for donkey’s years and have now got the opportunity to do so – losing your job and turning it into a positive being one of those opportunities.  

DO YOU THINK THE BUSINESS LANDSCAPE IN THE UAE HAS CHANGED BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC?  

ZOE: Definitely. There’s even more of an entrepreneurial spirit. The UAE has always been a place that fosters new businesses and start-ups, but it seems to encourage it even more so now.  And people seem even more willing to support local businesses. It’s seen as a really positive and smart thing to do.  

WHAT DOES A SMALL BUSINESS OFFER A CUSTOMER THAT A LARGER BRAND CAN’T?  

MAL: Personal customer service.  A huge amount of care and attention. And lots of individuality.  

From L-R: Pretty Shady Parasol’s founding partners Zoe Cairns and Mallory Robinson. House bunny Mrs. Nibbles likes to oversee photoshoots.

WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL? 

ZOE: Gosh there isn’t one person. It’s a tough old game starting a business, so anyone doing that and going for it is a business idol to us! 

HAVE YOU RECEIVED ANY MENTORING?

MAL: Not as such. We’ve had helpful titbits from people. Support and help is always greatly appreciated.  

WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED IN LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS?

ZOE: Well…sourcing the fabric; having fabric colours differ in the middle of a run of orders; hideously tight deadlines; moving 50kg concrete parasol bases on a skateboard; learning how to do e-commerce from scratch; suddenly having to home-school the week before launch; financing the whole thing… there’s been a few challenges to say the least!  

Birds Of Paradise Cushion, PRP AED 300, available at prettyshadyparsols.com

WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISH YOU’D KNOWN AT THE START OF LAUNCHING THE BUSINESS? 

MAL: How to use Instagram and social media. We still have a lot to learn but we’re getting there! 

WHY KIND OF FEEDBACK HAVE YOU HAD ON YOUR PRODUCT?  

MAL: We’re extremely grateful for all of the very lovely feedback we have received.  So many people have commented that there’s nothing like our collections available in the UAE. We also have some very happy and already repeat customers which is pretty much the best feedback you could want. We’re very open to advice, so it’s easy to adapt to recommendations. We’d be very silly not to listen to the pearls of wisdom being offered to us right now. 

HOW DO YOU INTEND TO MAKE YOUR BUSINESS SUCCEED?

ZOE: Coffee. We can’t function without it. We drink lots of locally-roasted SOB from Nightjar. Almost nothing else will do.

WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS MANTRA?

MAL: Laugh. A  lot.

For more information, visit prettyshadyparasols.com

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Your Guide on How to Rent in Dubai

Stretch Your AED

Dubai is a bustling city with a thriving real estate market, making it a popular destination for expats and locals alike. With a wide range of apartments and villas available for rent, finding the perfect place to call home can be overwhelming. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of renting in Dubai and provide tips to help you find your dream home.

Understanding the Dubai Rental Market

Before diving into the rental process, it’s important to understand the current state of the Dubai rental market. In recent years, there has been an increase in the supply of rental properties, leading to a decrease in rental prices. This means that now is a great time to rent in Dubai, as you may be able to find a better deal than in previous years. However, the opposite is true during certain months of the year. Rental prices in Dubai tend to increase during the peak season, which typically falls between September and April. This period coincides with the cooler months in Dubai. Residents and tourists coming in during these months increase the demand for rental properties rises, leading to an upward pressure on prices.

Types of Properties Available for Rent

Dubai offers a variety of rental properties, including apartments, villas, and townhouses. Apartments are the most common type of rental property, with a range of options from studio apartments to large penthouses. Villas and townhouses are typically larger and more expensive but offer more space and privacy.

Popular Areas for Renting

When it comes to choosing a location to rent in Dubai, it’s important to consider your budget, lifestyle, and proximity to work or school. Some popular areas for renting include Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, and Jumeirah Lakes Towers. These areas offer a mix of residential and commercial properties, with easy access to amenities and transportation.

The Rental Process

Now that you have an understanding of the rental market in Dubai, let’s walk through the steps of renting a property.

Determine Your Budget

Before you start your search, it’s important to determine your budget. This will help narrow down your options and prevent you from overspending. In Dubai, it’s common for landlords to require a security deposit and multiple rent cheques upfront, so be sure to factor these costs into your budget.

Start Your Search

With your budget in mind, you can start your search for the perfect rental property. You can browse listings online, work with a real estate agent, or visit properties in person. It’s important to view multiple properties and compare prices and amenities to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Submit Your Documents

Once you’ve found a property you’re interested in, you’ll need to submit your documents to the landlord or real estate agent. These documents typically include a copy of your passport, visa, and Emirates ID. You may also be required to provide proof of income or employment.

Sign the Tenancy Contract

If your application is approved, you’ll need to sign a tenancy contract. This contract outlines the terms of your rental agreement, including the duration of the lease, rent amount, and any additional fees or clauses. It’s important to read and understand the contract before signing.

Pay the Rent and Security Deposit

Before moving into your new rental property, you’ll need to pay the first rent cheque and security deposit. The security deposit is typically equivalent to one month’s rent and will be returned to you at the end of your lease, provided there is no damage to the property.

Register Your Tenancy Contract

In Dubai, it’s mandatory to register your tenancy contract with the Ejari system. This can be done online or through a typing centre. The cost of registration is typically split between the landlord and the tenant.

Tips for Renting in Dubai

Now that you know the rental process, here are some tips to help you find the perfect rental property in Dubai.

Work with a Real Estate Agent

While it’s possible to find a rental property on your own, working with a real estate agent can make the process much easier. They have access to a wide range of properties and can help negotiate the terms of your lease.

Consider Your Commute

Dubai is a large city, and traffic can be a major issue during rush hour. When choosing a location to rent, consider your commute to work or school. Living closer to your daily destinations can save you time and money on transportation.

Negotiate the Rent

Don’t be afraid to negotiate the rent with the landlord. In the current rental market, landlords may be willing to lower the rent or offer additional amenities to secure a tenant. It’s always worth asking for a better deal.

Read the Contract Carefully

Before signing the tenancy contract, be sure to read it carefully and ask for clarification on any terms you don’t understand. This will help prevent any surprises or issues during your tenancy.

Be Prepared for Additional Fees

In addition to the rent and security deposit, you may be required to pay additional fees such as a commission to the real estate agent, a maintenance fee, or a fee for using the building’s amenities. Be sure to factor these costs into your budget.

Renting in Dubai can be a daunting process, but with the right knowledge and preparation, you can find the perfect rental property for your needs. Remember to determine your budget, work with a real estate agent, and carefully read and negotiate the terms of your tenancy contract. With these tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to finding your dream home in Dubai.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key factors to consider when choosing a neighbourhood for renting in Dubai?

Choosing the right neighbourhood involves considering factors such as proximity to work, amenities, lifestyle preferences, and budget. Our guide provides insights into popular neighbourhoods, helping you make an informed decision based on your unique needs and preferences.

How can I budget wisely when renting in Dubai, and what additional costs should I be aware of?

Budgeting wisely is crucial for a successful renting experience. Our guide outlines average rental prices in different neighbourhoods and explores additional costs such as security deposits and agency fees. Understanding these financial aspects ensures that you find a rental property that aligns with your budget and financial goals.

What legal aspects should I be aware of when renting in Dubai, and how do I navigate the tenancy laws?

Navigating tenancy laws is essential for a transparent and fair renting experience. Our guide provides an overview of Dubai’s tenancy laws, including standard lease durations, the renewal process, and the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Understanding the legal aspects ensures that you enter into a rental agreement with confidence and clarity.

What is Ejari?

Ejari is an online registration system in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, that aims to regulate and document rental contracts. It is a government initiative designed to ensure transparency and fairness in the rental market. Ejari requires landlords and property management companies to register their tenancy contracts and obtain a unique Ejari number. This registration provides legal protection for both tenants and landlords and helps maintain a reliable database of rental agreements in Dubai.

Are there any fees associated with Ejari registration?

The cost of Ejari registration typically includes a government fee, a typing center fee for document preparation, and any additional service charges from the registration service provider. The specific fees may vary depending on the type of property and the registration period.

Who are the top rental agents in dubai for renting a property?

Here are some of the most reputable real estate agencies that are known for their expertise in property rentals:

  1. Betterhomes: A leading real estate agency in Dubai with a strong presence in the rental market.
  2. Asteco: A well-established real estate firm offering property leasing services in Dubai.
  3. Hamptons International: Known for their premium property offerings, Hamptons International specialises in high-end residential properties.
  4. Allsopp & Allsopp: A popular real estate agency with a dedicated rentals team that focuses on finding suitable rental options for clients.
  5. Chestertons: Another reputable agency of rental properties in Dubai with expertise across different areas and cater to both residential and commercial rental needs.

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