Tina Sharp, Bloomingdale’s Kuwait GM, talks success and what to expect in 2018. 

Tina has built a successful career in department stores and retail spanning over 20 years, which began with the UK iconic House of Fraser franchise. Recognized for her talents in coaching and leadership, in addition to continually achieving all her commercial targets, Tina rose through the ranks, starting as Store Supervisor and Fashion Manager in key locations before being appointed Operations Manager in London. In 2016 Tina was appointed General Manager, Bloomingdale’s Kuwait, where she has successfully overseen and executed the high profile launch of the store’s second international location, after Dubai.

One year in and congratulations, Bloomingdale’s has helped change the face of retail in Kuwait. Looking back over the first year, what are your most memorable milestones in store? Thanks! Yes, it’s been such an eventful year with many notable achievements and highlights. From the action packed launch celebrations and more recently the first birthday party, where the store came to life and was buzzing with entertainment, exciting offers, customization opportunities, designer visits, the opportunity to meet our very own  Big Brown Bear and so much more for our customers of all ages to  enjoy. During the year we were honored to host an event with renowned international womenswear designer Huishan Zhang, a new brand we introduced exclusively for SS18.

Our windows are always a source of pride, and my personal favorite is the current scheme called “The Women Within”. I’m so inspired by the success and impact that so many women in the region – and in particular Kuwait – have had, and I’m honored that the store is able to publicly recognize their achievements.

We met some incredible women at the inaugural Harper’s Bazaar Best Dressed in Kuwait, where we were the official partners, as well as at the Kuwait Arab Women of Achievement luncheon that we hosted at Scene. Another popular initiative was our National Day podium, where we collaborated with local artist Abdulrazzaq AlShemali to decorate with graffiti style illustrations that speak to how Kuwait celebrates its National Day, including water bombs, Kuwait towers, a local proverb and spray foam.

We love how Bloomingdale’s Kuwait constantly reflects the local shopper. You feature a number of regional designers. Who has been particularly hot with shoppers during the first twelve months? Our amazing buying team are constantly traveling the globe to satisfy the needs of our clients, bringing us the hottest trending names in the industry from the catwalks of fashion capitals such as Paris and New York, as well as a growing pool of home-grown talent which is so exciting. Some of our favorites include Kuwaiti sibling duo Marzook, with their statement bags, and Dubai-based womenswear designer Ameera Haroon. We were privileged to recently welcome to our first birthday celebrations handbag designers Amanda Navai from Dubai and Manar from Moni & J, headquartered right here in Kuwait. I’m really happy that we are continuing to grow this category of regional brands in the store, more is yet to come so watch this space over the next few months and as we get closer to Ramadan, in particular.

Which new labels are you adding for 2018? Our clients crave newness and exclusivity, which we aim to satisfy with a merchandise offering that is constantly being refreshed, focused and tailored to their style and taste. We have a host of exciting new brands arriving for Spring Summer 2018. In Ready-to-Wear, we will introduce hot international labels including SAFiYAA and Temperley London from the UK, as well as Dion Lee from Australia, Act No. 1, Isa Arfen and SMARTEEZ from Italy, SemSem by Egyptian designer Abeer Al Otaiba, Hemant & Nandita and SAU LEE., with a collection that is a unique mix of East meets West. In evening-wear, we welcome exquisite labels such as Özgür Masur from Turkey, Rachel Gilbert from Australia, and David Meister from the US.

We will introduce many new handbag lines, from luxury icon Aspinal London, Danse Lente also from London, Egyptian label Okhtein, Nico Giani from Italy, The VOLON, Olympia Le-Tan and from Cult Gaia, we will carry the iconic bamboo Ark bag, much loved by fashion bloggers around the world. In footwear, we will be stocking Chiara Ferragni’s new line, as well as Gia Couture and Veja sneakers. Finally in the jewelry category, we are thrilled to carry Spanish brand Anton Heunis, Shourouk and the legendary designs of Oscar de la Renta.

New services for 2018? What is new with Personal Shopping, Personalization Lounge and Experience Beauty? Customer experience has been a major focus for us since launching. In Experience Beauty, customers love to book out the space so that they can enjoy the range of pampering treatments and makeover sessions with their friends in total privacy. The services are constantly being refreshed and updated, and our most enjoyed service to date is light therapy with the Opera LED mask; a regimen of 7 sessions that glorifies your skin, prevents acne and signs of aging, and boosts your skin cells for improved tolerance and recovery.

We also recently launched the renowned “ioma” product line with personalization services, which offers a true luxury made to measure service that takes our guests through a 4D skin discovery experience, designing their own skin bespoke prescription that ensures ultimate satisfaction. The amazing team of girls at Experience Beauty really take time to get to know each client resulting in the delivery of a tailor-made experience. The Personalization Lounge continues to delight, offering a complimentary service to customers to make their purchases unique. Being able to emboss, embroider and engrave your purchases makes them so special, especially as gifts. I must say I have treated myself to quite a few fragrance bottles with my name on, and I love my beautifully embroidered dust bags for my shoes!

In Personal Shopping we constantly add unique and private experiences for our clients to enjoy, and will be welcoming some new members to the team soon.

We love the vibes ‘Scene’. What’s on the menu here for 2018? This is such a great spot to catch up with friends and family while enjoying some really delicious food! The recently launched new menu offers a twist on our classic dishes like our Eggs Benedict and Salted Caramel French Toast, whilst also offering an all-new breakfast, mains, sharers and dessert items that will keep you coming back for more. Our personal recommendations; Coconut and Chia Pudding, Rainbow Quinoa, Cheese and Honey Flatbread, Garlic and Chili Prawns and Loaded Sweet Potato Fries.

As with most people I do look forward to my daily coffee and Scene’s unique blend always sets me up for the day!

What are you most excited about in the coming months? Upcoming events we should take note of in our diaries? We have just launched our swimwear pop-up, and the buyers have really done a fantastic job building on last year’s offer. Next on the calendar is Ramadan and this year we have built considerably on the ready-to-wear offering with the addition of some exciting new brands such as abayas, kaftans and dresses by local designers including CHI-KA, SlouchyZ, Shatha Essa, Poca and Poca, Designers Empire and Chador. Additionally, we have built in a home gifting offer especially for the Holy Month, a new category for the store. The Ramadan pop-up will be launched in April and we are really looking forward to seeing how our customers will respond.

Finally, we are looking to bring one of our favorite London-based shoe designers to Kuwait, details to be announced very soon!