Paving the way for Kuwaiti women to the path of self expression, determination, and success.
A role model for all women out there, an entrepreneur who has entered several different paths in different areas and excelled at each one, that’s who Farah Al Babtain is. From design, fashion, health and fitness, and also art, each concept ultimately speaks out the same message, opportunity is there you just have to grab it and seize it.
Words by Rawan Qabazard / Photography by Jalil Marvin / Wardrobe Luna and the Gypsies
Who is Farah Al Babtain? Farah Al Babtain is the creative director of GROUPXEN, a company established in 2005 as a subsidiary of Al Babtain Group, a Kuwaiti family business that has been trading for over 60 years. Groupxen includes a spectrum of different companies and brands that address different sectors – including fashion, events, interior design and fitness – but all addressing some aspect of the growing lifestyle market.
Which business venture did you start off with, and why was that the path you chose? I started off with design consultancy, because I was mesmerized by the idea that I could create anything from scratch which gave me limitless boundaries that extended into future projects and business ventures.
Describe how your lifestyle affects your business. My personal and day to day routine is centered around my fitness and athletic performance which rubs off on SPARK and how it operates. An avid art addict, I always lean towards anything related to the fine arts thus starting The Center of the Arts. Moreover, I am deeply influenced by modern and old Arabia, an orientalist to the core which is conveyed through my designs in MUHRA. Finally, I have a passion for the gypsy and bohemian lifestyle, which is shown through my designs at Luna & The Gypsies.
What are some goals that were set and have been achieved? To start a business that caters to promote and nurture the different talents of Kuwaiti youth, we are proud to present a set of competitive athletes that were discovered and fully backed up and sponsored by SPARK. This is an opportunity to give individuals the right environment and training that enables them to lead by example and reach further international presence. Another beautiful goal was presenting our first Kuwaiti ballerina, Yasmine Marafie, who was discovered and fully sponsored at The Center of the Arts. Yasmeen made it to the top 12 in the prestigious YAGP competition in Paris in 2016.
Where do you see the Kuwaiti women in the business field nowadays? Kuwaiti women are strong, persistent, and are in control of their lives. There has been a tremendous change in their pattern of life and that has opened up a lot of opportunities for them to tap into different fields of business. I believe that if they work hard and persist, they can definitely reach international levels in any field of their choice.
As for your venture in the fashion industry, describe your two brands and how they are different from each other? My two brands, Muhra and Luna & The Gypsies, are two very different brands that I equally adore. Muhra is inspired by my love for traditional Arabian heritage, and it conveys a sense of exclusivity and inclusion for its clients, as each piece is one piece only, never repeated. Muhra aims to lift the veil on the beauty of Arabian culture, the strength, fierceness and mysterious beauty of Arabian women. It is tailored to a line of exclusive clients that enjoy Muhra’s exquisite pieces. Luna & The Gypsies on the other hand is a brand that is inspired by my interest in the gypsy and bohemian lifestyle while incorporating trendy modern ideas. The clothing options at Luna & The Gypsies reflect the bohemian and free-spirited lifestyles and includes aspects of the modern day fashion styles.
What influences your designs for each of the two brands? Muhra is influenced by my love for traditional Arabian heritage. Inspiration can come from anywhere: from music, the weather, from a piece of vintage fabric, a poem I heard or simply an Oud excerpt. I am very attached to my Arabian background. I am a loyal Orientalist who is in constant thirst for the magical and intricate inspirations of this land. I believe that Arabs underestimate their culture, and I believe that we have so much to give. There is a lot of beauty in our environment that is covered up, and I want to lift the veil. Luna & The Gypsies on the other hand reflects my fascination with the bohemian lifestyle. It conveys a more laid back, natural and raw sense of living which I adore.
When you start sketching, what are the characteristics of the woman wearing a “Muhra” design? Beauty in my eyes is pure strength. Arabian women are known for their fierceness and sharp features. When I start designing a piece I always intend to promote the prestigious elegance and mesmerizing aura that a Muhra client craves.
When opening up the gym “Spark” what was your goal for society? Spark Athletic was purely my brother, Abdulmohsen’s idea. He was the one involved and presented the concept to motivate and educate Kuwait ‘s society to enjoy and participate in a healthy lifestyle in a place that is based on proper sport science. Spark Athletic is a platform for those seeking to take their athletic training to new heights under the supervision of highly qualified coaches and within an environment that promotes fitness with state-of-the art machines and equipment to support any athletic goal. Spark also aims to further the career of Kuwaiti athletes through the sponsorships we offer.
How did you come up with the idea for the marathon and how was the feedback from the community? Spark Marathon is the biggest sporting event in Kuwait aiming to put our country in the spotlight of international recognition through the standards that we imposed while planning and executing the event. It aimed to raise awareness for Kuwait’s high obesity rate and the general public’s lack of healthy habits and lifestyles. The feedback from the community was more than expected, not only locally, since we had athletes from 52 nationalities flying in to participate.
The Center of the Arts, how did you come up with this concept? and why? I have always had a lust for Art and wanted to learn more and and let others explore the different mediums of fine art as well. 1000 square meters dedicated to teach art in all its diversified kinds. Whether its Ballet, music, arts and crafts or dance in all its forms, I have dedicated this space as a platform for artists to share and present their art and express and collaborate as well.
What are your future plans? Never ending are those plans! I have Kuwait’s youth amidst my eyes and I constantly search for opportunities to incorporate them within the realm of our business. I live to nurture talent and beauty and I believe this is what keeps us forever engulfed in constant hunger for new and exciting opportunities.