The Local Businesses I Love to Shop
You hear a lot of people speak about why buying locally is so important. Sometimes it's in a manner that can feel like incessant chatter, in the same way 5 years ago, people would demand you to go vegan. But it's only when I started Little IA in 2021, that I truly appreciated how crucial to society it is that we shop and support local brands. Not only are these brands working 10x harder than the people behind global brands, these are the innovators, the underdogs, the dreamers, the game changers that are fundamentally trying to make a difference to life as we know it in their home-turf. Whether it be through better sourcing, better culture in their companies (because let's face it managing 20 people is far easier than managing 20,000), better business practices and more generally they are closer to the marketplace so truly know how to cater a product that is right for the region. The love poured into a local business should never go un-noticed. The pressure faced when going head to head with a giant company or brand, is immense. And you do not take on this challenge lightly. You take it on with infinite bags of hope and passion, that your product will deliver more value to the marketplace because you know your local market. With that said, I wanted to share some local brands I love, that are largely founded by women working night and day to make a mark, despite those copying their designs or concepts (in some cases), despite the giants they are up against, despite all the odds against a small business. These are businesses I buy from, I am passionate over, and use their services for my own family.
This is hands down my favourite children's class. Through her intimate group classes, Sherin brings your children into a magical world, immersed in lush greenery. Through her tie-up with Al Barari, she has gone from doing her nature classes in local parks, to having her own dedicated space. Classes include nature walks, picking flowers in the forest, making wishing sticks and potions, planting in her new vegetable garden, meditations laid out on the sprawling garden, finding cobwebs glittered between branches. It is peaceful, immersive, and everything you could want for your children when you live in the middle of the desert. I am truly grateful to her for starting such a beautiful class, and after story-time to end the session, you have the ability to roam around her magical mud kitchen garden, where you will find trinkets, a wooden mud kitchen and a mud-lake where children can splash in. Definitely don't forget your swim stuff and towels, as the kids love getting messy here!
Founded by a girl I deeply admire, Hannah is on a mission to bring the best in terms of materials, quality, softness, to the diaper market. Having built the brand from scratch and gained significant traction in the market, she is now expanding the brand globally to rival some of the lower-quality organic off-shoots that some of the giants like Pampers have launched. You can find PureBorn in most of the supermarkets and pharmacies around Dubai. I realised she was truly on to something when I switched to PureBorn nappies, and noticed for the first time since my baby had been born, there was absolutely no odour coming from her wet nappy. Plus it's the only nappy on the market I've found that never leaks!
This incredibly impressive company - from mission, to product, to culture - was founded to enhance the experience of sitting down with your family, having a good, fresh, home-cooked meal. Hello Chef offer subscription boxes of ingredients with corresponding recipes that are perfectly proportioned, ensuring zero waste. The recipes are clear and easy-to-follow, allowing you to create a gourmet meal of your choice (their menu is extensive) without the hassle of shopping for ingredients or researching the best recipe. Best of all, you can get your kids involved, and save so much time on something that is usually at the bane of every household - meal planning and grocery shopping.
I combined these three together, because essentially I use these three companies to fulfil the one very core need of mine for healthy, refined sugar free deserts, spreads, savoury items, made from real ingredients, with no preservatives, nothing artificial, and an ingredients list that is smaller than the number of fingers on one hand. From Honest Kitchen, my staples are their Cassava Wraps, which I use regularly for my kids lunchboxes, to make mini sandwich wraps, their Not-Ella, which my kids devour on pancakes, their paleo fudge cake is the best in the business and their lemon crumble cakes are divine. From Boutique Baker, their chocolate fingers are insanely good, the marble cake is buttery soft (without any butter) and her apple crumble bars are one of my kids favourite deserts. My favourite thing about Boutique Baker, is how truly guilt-free they are. Unlike other 'healthy' companies, she does not use a lot of fats, like butters, and so if you want something that's genuinely clean and healthy, she is your go-to. Little Home is another company I love to order from. I first came across them through their insane looking lotus mud-pie - you know the kind of insane that makes you want to lick the screen. Little Home do a mix of healthy and non-healthy treats, to suit all clients and all preferences. My go-to are the gluten-free chocolate sea salt cookies, that quite literally melt in the mouth. I gift them regularly, and am yet to find a more delicious chewy cookie.
Everyone has a go-to for all the snacks and food required for a certain playdate or children's event - and mine is GS Dubai. They are particularly great at that kind of Pinterest-worthy designed food - I'm talking about bleeding finger hot-dog sausages for Halloween, and mini Elf cakes at Christmas - and best of all they do not have an extortionate price tag despite their detailed designs, and still taste good! They never let me down, and for a last-minute mum like me, who tends to order cakes on the same day - that is really saying something!
If you're looking for a yoga teacher who is as authentic as it gets, Guzal is your girl. From the moment you meet Guzal, you feel truly at peace. Her energy is rare and precious, she is both uplifting and encouraging and you leave every session feeling at peace with yourself and proud of your body. I love how she does her sessions to the most mesmerising chants, really putting you in a place of peace. I've never been able to truly switch off in a yoga session, until I met Guzal.
There's nothing quite as 'local' as going local with your fruit and vegetables, which is why, living in the middle of the desert, I absolutely love the ability to go local on produce. Not only is it incredibly environmentally friendly, but I truly believe that feeding your kids local produce that is preservative free and organically grown, if it is feasible and economical, is worth switching over too, particularly as in Dubai pretty much all the fruit and veg is imported and astronomically expensive. So why not try and save some of your hard-earned money by going local! Best of all, you can order directly on whatsapp via a weekly menu and your order is delivered straight to your door.