The Art of Business

Q&A with Mayes Al Thani, YPO Qatar member and all-round inspiring business woman

Founder and owner of Living Space Interiors, Mayes Al Thani (YPO Qatar) is a leading woman entrepreneur in Qatar and in the MENA region in general. Always committed to life-long learning, she graduated with a BFA Degree in Interior Design from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004, and is currently doing her MBS through Leicester University.

Creative to the core, Mayes loves design and photography, and is inspired by travelling, adventure and new experiences.  We thought we would ask her about her recipe for success.

What inspired you to start your own business?  

My passion for transforming spaces through design began when I was really young.  Some of my earliest and best memories are helping my mother to rearrange the decor of our home, and trying to create and match color themes. After I completed my studies, I wanted to combine what I had learned with my passion, and so I built a unique experience that offer people the ability to truly reflect their personality and unique style in their living space.

Why did you choose to return to Qatar?

After I completed my studies in the USA, the call to return homes was strong.  Being a Qatari national, I am proud of my country and heritage. Not only that, Qatar is a really fast-moving and diverse economy and I think that is the ambition of any entrepreneur to be a part such a dynamic business environment.

MENA is a unique region in the world, what do you love about doing business here?

What many people from other parts of the world do not understand about the MENA region is the multi-cultural nature of its society. Yes, we do share a language, but that’s where the similarity ends, each nation has different aptitudes and attitudes, which makes for a diverse and exciting place to do business. I also believe the region has very skillful people from myriad backgrounds, which adds to the uniqueness of it business environment.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?  

I think I faced similar challenges to what every entrepreneur needs to overcome.  The first is tailoring the business idea and product to fill a gap in the prevailing business environment and to meet the needs of their target audience.

It is also a matter of progressing, start-ups generally face the first challenge of just kicking off the business, then they need to stabilize it, and eventually turn it into a profitable business.  To be honest, I also think in our society that women face some unique challenges, so as you can imagine, being a young female entrepreneur running a startup took a lot of grit and determination.  But, I am grateful for those challenges as I believe that a challenge is there to be overcome. So, you do that, and move on to the next one, and that is exactly what I did, and will continue to do.

As an inspired business woman, what are your best memories of your journey?

Like any journey you take, every stop has its unique experience, and I think in business it is a series of firsts that standout as highlights. For example, when you pick a brand name for your business, or see you first prototype, receive your first order or receive your first customer feedback. So, I guess I am blessed with a great journey full of joyful stops, and hopefully with many more to come. 

What advice do you have for young women who aspire to start their own business?

My ultimate advice would be what I call the triangle of success or my “3As”: Ambitious, Activate and Accelerate.

Ladies: be Ambitious and do not be scared or intimidated; Activate your plan, live it and dream about it; Accelerate your expertise as you learn from the day to day experiences of running your own business.

If you were not into interior design, what other paths would you have considered?

Interesting question.  I think combining creativity with passion is my path, so if it had not been interior design it could have been anything within that domain.

How has being a member of YPO benefitted you in business or otherwise?

YPO has offered me a great platform to share my experiences with other young professionals, and to learn and grow from theirs.

YPO is the global leadership community of more than 29,000 chief executives in 130 countries who are driven by the belief that the world needs better leaders. Each of our members have achieved significant leadership success at a young age. Combined, they lead businesses and organizations contributing USD9 trillion in annual revenue. YPO members become better leaders and better people through peer learning and exceptional experiences in an inclusive community of open sharing and trust.