Olivia Corsi on inspiring creativity throughout her mumpreneur journey
Olivia Corsi, Founder and CEO of Caramel and Sun and mum to two adorable little girls, reveals how she’s inspiring her kids to get creative and find their spark.
French-native Olivia Corsi was drawn to Dubai 12 years ago to work within the luxury perfumes department at Chalhoub Group. Having previously worked within the sector in France, Ireland and the UK, the mum of two little girls Stella (6) and Romy (4), realized that the city would let her accomplish her goals, one day allowing her to launch Caramel and Sun. “We focus on design and contemporary kids’ furniture and accessories. I just bought over the UAE handmade kids furniture brand, POMME KIDS, and I’m about to launch a new kids’ accessories brand made out of African wax tissue,” says Olivia. The business school graduate married a “very supportive” French-Greek man, and since moving here, has found herself gradually climbing the ladder – her last stint was at Estee Lauder, where she headed the Marketing for luxury cosmetic brands. “This really helped me learn the steps required to building a quality brand, details in retail execution and overall management of a business,” she says.
As she takes us around her home in Jumeirah, she reminisces the beginnings of Caramel and Sun. “I was designing Stella and Romy’s room and started to see that there was a gap in the market. I had to shop online in Europe and bring things in my suitcase from Paris, to develop an environment for my kids filled with cool, creative products from small and big brands,” she says. Olivia strongly believes that a kids’ room is the first place they learn about creativity and design and that it allows them to develop their own creativity. “I therefore did what every passionate, and crazy, person would do. I quit my job and dove into opening my company. I am loving every mad minute of it.”
As a mumpreneur, Olivia admits that while it takes passion and a long-term belief in her company, it is important for her to find that balance with her children and family. “I try to put as much time and effort into being a mother who is present and bonded to my children, as I do to be present for my customer and team. The hours are long but since this balance is driven by passion for what I do, and love for my children, this gives me the strength to do both.”
But in order to manage her business and home life, she need to demonstrate what it takes. “I am very proud to show my girls that decisions in life can be driven by passion and a lot of hard work,” says Olivia. Becoming a mom has confirmed this and everything from her school-runs to play-time is a measure of success. To start the day positively, Olivia admits she focuses on getting a café latte on her way to work. After that, it’s in and out of meetings with customers, to the store in Mercato or office in Al Quoz, and while she’s en route, phone calls with the team to complete her to-do list and focus areas for the week. At 2:30pm, it’s pick-up time for the kids to drop them home, meetings with customers, distribution and online businesses, delivery schedules, new assortment selections; and ways to expand and open new doors. She gets home between 7:00 and 7:30 at least three time a week to have dinner with the family and either go to bed after putting the kids to sleep at 8pm; watch a cool series; or catch up with girlfriends for a nice night out. “Our conversations are usually about how we will remake the world. Dubai has really become home to me!”
Olivia also tries to ensure the girls have the right balance of creative activities in both physical and intellectual ways. “They go to gymnastics, ballet and swimming, each week, to help them learn how to creatively move their bodies. I see them being so confident in how they dance and even show their close friends cool moves,” she says. Olivia credits her children’s school, DIA, being awesome with hosting end of year concerts. She also works on their intellectual creativity with various language classes like French, and soon Greek, to allow them to feel comfortable in any language. “We read in all three languages at home and ensure a balanced language environment. I practice what I preach and make sure that they try out all the super products we have at Caramel and Sun like coloring maps from Omy which guarantee quiet time,” she says. Olivia finds that of late, she has been letting them get bored to discover their own creative spark and develop their play stories alone or together, without needing “digital sugar (TV/Ipads).” She’s also looking into bringing some great new no-screen products like LUNI brand, which is a great storyteller and focuses on reducing kids time with screens.
Since they are parents of Third Culture Kids TCKs with roots in France, Greece and a life In Dubai, Olivia and her husband focus a large part of time with their children on two things. “I am instilling our French roots and am giving them the platform to show their creativity in their own way.” Although they are still young, she wants them to feel creative in the place they live, the way they think, draw, move, dance and express themselves overall. Work is fast-paced and constant, here in the UAE, and Olivia finds that she needs to ensure she makes the time for her children and family. “We make sure we spend time together and also one-on-one time with each of the girls, so they feel special as a family unit as well as an individual. I love little shopping trips with each of my kids,” she smiles and tells me.
You can tell Olivia is extremely proud of what she has accomplished, and the fact that she has two girls that she can be a role model for. “I am a very passionate person and jump into things because they excite me. I thrive for constant creativity and want to build this in my kids from the early years,” she says. Olivia strongly believes in passion being the road to success, and creativity being a platform for happiness. Her advice to other moms is to help kids find their creativity and spark. Everything happens for a reason, just don’t allow yourself to get stuck if you can’t find your reason,” she says, ending our conversation on a wise, hearty note.