Meet the former Editor-in-Chief, now Brand Consultant to some of the top names in fashion.
Having studied Law, Shirene Rifai knows the importance of negotiation; an attribute she relied upon when starting her own business. Now a leading Brand Consultant and Influencer in the Middle East, she puts her success down to self-confidence, hard work and dreaming big.
Please introduce yourself to our readers:
I’m a Digital Influencer and Brand Consultant. After working as Editor-in-Chief for several luxury magazines in fashion, bridal and lifestyle throughout Jordan and Lebanon, I founded Shirene Consulting to continue my pursuit in luxury and the creative world in more depth. I live by the mantra that nothing is impossible. I always tell people that impossible doesn’t exist. I’m also too much of a dreamer and love envisioning everything around me in pink.
Tell us about your education:
My BA is in law. Although I enjoyed my studies and value my degree choice, fashion has always been a hobby for me and so my interests led me to the media and fashion industry as a fashion editor then Editor-in-Chief. My law background still proves to be very beneficial in my career, allowing me to be more outspoken, patient and persistent. It also taught me to be a good negotiator. The need to be bold when you’re a lawyer is also a must when it comes to fashion.
What motivated you to study law?
Becoming a lawyer was somewhat of a family tradition. I did enjoy it tremendously and I’m still passionate about it.
Who or what was your inspiration in fashion and what led you to move into media and fashion after studying law?
My mom is without a doubt my ultimate inspiration. Shopping together was always a serious and planned expedition. I didn’t really have a concrete game plan when I changed my career, but I think being in law and growing up with that kind of influence gave me the courage to just go after what I wanted the most.
What is the best thing about being in the media and fashion field for you?
The unpredictability. There’s never a dull moment and no typical day. I love having to adapt to whatever needs to be done from shooting a campaign, styling and consulting; there’s so much creativity and growing involved. Starting in media and the local publishing industry provided me with great tools to hone my creativity and knowledge and to grow and experience much more than I would have on my own.
How do you keep yourself updated in the world of fashion and style?
I believe fashion has made me more connected to people. Travelling is a major aspect of my job and with that, Fashion Weeks. Also, from the strangers I see and meet there is plenty of inspiration.
You were yourself the co-founder and editor-in-chief of four magazines. Tell us more about the journey and your experience.
It’s not an unusual story, but every step of the way my journey has been glorious. In 2006 I was hired to launch Jordan’s first high-end fashion magazine for women. Before taking on this role I was working for a competing publisher doing fashion shoots and styling. So this was a dream come true! After the huge success of this magazine, I went on to launch three more high-end magazines for the same publisher between Jordan and Lebanon.
Why and when did you establish Shireen Consulting and what services does it offer?
My love, confidence and voice in the industry grew and I decided to move along to greater and bigger challenges, doing more to influence the creative world while inspiring women. That’s when SRC was formed. In 2015 I began to offer services like image consulting, campaign conceptualization and production, re-branding, market planning, communication strategies, styling, designing and customized events. There’s so much great talent in the world of fashion, jewellery and beauty that it becomes extremely difficult to stand out and get people’s attention. This is where I come in. I eliminate the prosaic expressions and try to reveal the client’s authenticity and something that would resonate more with the human in all of us.
After I made the choice to launch Shirene Consulting, I continued to actively engage with the community of people I wanted to serve. This included emerging designers whom I mentor and work closely with. I love to inspire and motivate people to challenge themselves and become their greatest version. Now I love what I do more and I think my clients enjoy it too!
Who are some of your notable clients?
You can see my work through my consulting and the brand campaigns of Tufenkjian, Chopard, Bulgari, Time Center, Massimo Dutti, TRESemmé, Four Seasons Hotel Amman, Carpisa and more.
What’s your vision for Shireen Consulting and where do you see it going in the next five years?
One of my goals revolves around establishing a coherent fashion system in Jordan with an important focus on education and cultural development; some sort of an initiative that contributes to the promotion of cultural diversity and support to the creative industry which includes a fashion/design fund and a fashion institute.
Tell us about some of your achievements that make you proud:
My proudest accomplishment would have to be when I launched my own company.
Ever since I launched SRC, everything makes me proud; little or big wins. It was such a rush to come to work and see clients flourishing because of something I helped develop. On a personal level, I’m proud to have been the first brand ambassador in the ME for several luxury brands.
What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m constantly looking for new concepts, researching ideas and creating projects. When I’m interested in something, I want to know everything about it. I need to know what’s behind it all. You’ll have to wait and see when it’s all revealed!
What do you think has been the key to your success?
There’s no secret. Success comes from self-confidence and hard work while being passionate about what I’m doing; and always giving it my all is important. My goals towards success continue to change. A long time ago, it was to start a new luxury magazine – which I did and it just kept expanding to four magazines. Then it was to make it influential and loved – which it has. A few years ago, it was to start my own consulting firm – which happened. So for me, the key is to keep dreaming, and dreaming big. Success is not one destination but the journey you take to achieve those dreams.
General words of wisdom you live by?
‘If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place.’ Ekhart Tolle.
How do you think Social Media has changed the way you work today compared to when you started?
It really has changed the world! Digital and social media isn’t just changing the way we do business, it’s changing what businesses we’re in to begin with.
It’s an essential component for any business strategy and all forward-thinking organizations understand the value in shifting from traditional engagement to progressive models. It’s given my clients the ability to upsell and cross-sell existing customers. But it definitely added a lot more pressure as an influencer. It’s my job and I love it because I’m constantly challenged to provide content and come up with concepts that are creative and also present value. I do, however, try to maintain a balance and solid structure so my personal life doesn’t get compromised. Once I built my loyal community and followers there was a responsibility to be truthful, inspiring, yet modest.
How would you describe your personal style?
There isn’t really any consistency in the way I dress. My friends call it ‘eccentric chic’. I have built a wardrobe of staple dresses and high heels. I like to show my feminine and clever business side with hints of trendiness. I love art and all the intricacies that go into developing beautiful clothes; those are the things that make me happy and the pieces I cherish in my closet and for my choice of style.
Name some of your favourite designers.
I don’t have a specific favourite designer. I’m moved by creativity in general, each and every designer I meet is different. Each one has their own special story that makes me appreciate and enjoy their work even more. I’m someone who is open to all tastes, I adore fashion and I’m constantly inspired and like to have fun with it.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since starting your career in fashion and consulting?
My journey of self-development is a prime example that if you push yourself hard enough and believe that you’re already where you want to be, then it won’t be long before everything you wished for is manifested into reality. Surely, challenges are always part of the journey. How else could you appreciate the outcome and be grateful for what you have? But I keep going.
What is your ultimate dream or goal?
I have many but my mission in life is to inspire and provoke. I allow my own experiences, behaviour and work to motivate people in fulfilling their own dreams. Whether it’s through charitable work, style advice, a powerful campaign or a creative image; no matter how big or small, my various means inspire each person in different ways.
Your message for us at CP magazine?
Everything I do is a matter of heart, body and soul. Strive to be strong and independent. Be yourself and don’t let others define you. There are limitations in allowing others to define who you are. Focus on your dreams even if they go beyond common sense.