Donna Benton is the Founder and Chairman of the Entertainer. She has lived in Dubai for 16 years and considers it home. She is mum of two, Chloe, aged 6 and Jack, aged 3. Donna has an amazing reputation in Dubai as a businesswoman and philantropist, often described by many as down-to-earth, relatable, and she never stops giving back to communities. Her team sing her praises as she exercises a leadership role that incorporates support, development, understanding and compassion, and her team are inspired and loyal to her as a result. We are so grateful that Donna has taken time to talk to us about motherhood, business, and her new venture named after her first born, Chloe’s Beauty Hair and Nails.
Congratulations on the success of the Entertainer expanding internationally – what do you think are your key ingredients for its success?
Thank you. It’s hard to believe that the Entertainer is now in 15 countries globally and that since launching the App in 2013 we’re now almost 100% digital. I think a large part of the success is due to the fact that we’ve always stuck to the same business model – our offers are always buy one get one free and they’re valid 7 days a week (excluding public holidays). For this reason, it’s not always been easy to convince merchants to participate. But from the start I knew it was important to keep the offers consistent and ensure that they had as few restrictions as possible. So that when people buy the Entertainer they know what to expect and they also know that they’re going to get good quality offers and substantial savings. These days, the App brings the offers to people with even more added bonuses and convenience. We’re continually making improvements and launching new functions, sometimes even in direct response to customer requests. For example, last month we launched a delivery category, which lists all of the restaurants in Dubai offering buy one get one free on home delivery – something our customers had been asking for.
What made you decide to create Chloe’s Beauty, Hair & Nails?
Through the years I’ve enjoyed working with the spas and salons in the Entertainer Body and it’s an area I’ve always been interested in. Having been in Dubai for 16 years I’ve had my fair share of beauty treatments, but since having children the visits had started to become less frequent. I realised that it was because salons tend to open quite late in the morning – in fact they open about 2 to 3 hours after school drop-off. Plus when you’re working full-time it can be hard to find the time – even without children. I famously installed a salon in the Entertainer office a few years ago so that my employees can have treatments during the work day. So I decided to launch my own salon to address these inconveniences – and of course it’s called Chloe’s after my daughter.
What is the concept of Chloe’s Beauty, Hair and Nails?
I wanted to create a convenient and affordable beauty haven that works for all the different groups of women in Dubai. We’re open from 7am – 9pm on weekdays (9am – 9pm on weekends) so you can book an appointment at a time that suits you perfectly – before work, after school drop-off, during your lunch break and even after the kids have gone to bed. We also have a kid’s treatment area so, even more conveniently, you can bring your kids with you and relax knowing that they’re being looked after. We have a private VIP room, which allows groups of up to 4 guests to enjoy their treatments together and is perfect for wedding party preparations, a girls’ get together, hen night or birthday celebrations. It also allows for people who just want a bit more privacy. Finally the prices are very reasonable – I want people to feel like they can afford to have regular treatments and leave feeling pampered and relaxed rather than worrying about what they just spent.
How quickly can a mum on the run do her manicure and pedicure plus have a blowdry? (on average)?
Depending on the length of your hair, we can have you pampered and preened in about 45 mins to an hour. If you’re pressed for time it’s best to let the girls know and they will make sure you’re finished in time.
The team are trained to be extremely timely and efficient. Plus if you’re really stretched for time, we offer express services – for example you can have an Express Manicure for just 30dhs and in less than 20 minutes you will have clean and tidy nails as well as a polish change. It’s actually the perfect place to have a one-to-one meeting, which I do with my team on a regular basis.
How much time do you have for yourself as a working mother? How do you ensure you carve that out for yourself?
I’m a firm believer that a happy family needs a happy mum. It’s really so important to take time out for yourself. For me, I prioritise exercising as that makes me feel great. I tend to start each morning with a run on the beach – I’m often joined by one of my girlfriends and I find it the best way to clear my head and get ready for the day. I’m also fortunate enough to have a great support team around me and the children. I’d never underestimate the importance of a great nanny!
How do you balance your time with the family and work?
I’m very organised and I do plan ahead, but balance doesn’t necessarily mean sticking to a rigid schedule – it’s actually more important to be flexible. So some days I might take the afternoon off to do something with the kids and then catch up on work in the evening after they’re in bed. Also I don’t feel guilty about being a working mum. I think it’s a great life lesson for my kids to see how hard I work and that they enjoy the life they do because of what I do. My parents instilled a fantastic work ethic in me and I hope that I pass that onto my children.
You are a role model to many other mums and women out there, who is your personal role model?
Motherhood is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, jobs in the world. There’s no formula to being a perfect mother, everyone has their own style and can be brilliant at it. So anyone with happy, thriving children should be an inspiration to others. My mum is a great role model for me. She provided me and my sister with unwavering love and affection and always taught us to treat people how we would like to be treated ourselves. She’s been a constant support in my life and I hope that I have the same close relationship with my children that I have with my mum.
What three pieces of advice can you give to mums with young children wanting to start up a business of their own?
You’re going to have to be brave! If you have a good idea for a business, but you’re always putting off taking that leap into the unknown, don’t be afraid to take some risks and put your fears to one side.
Starting your own business definitely isn’t easy and don’t underestimate the work ethic and belief in the product that you need.
Remember, you can love what you do, but if the figures don’t add up, it’s a hobby and not a business.
What is the best advice you have been given?
My grandmother played a big part in my childhood and I always remember her saying “always save your money for a rainy day” and thank goodness I listened to her. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have had the $3,000 in my savings account that I used to start the Entertainer when the job that I’d moved to Dubai for didn’t work out!
What do you hope to instill in Chloe and Jack when they grow up?
Impeccable manners, compassion and a strong work ethic.
What is your greatest fear as a mother for your children?
The most important thing is good health, that’s really all you need in life.
It is well-known that you are incredibly compassionate when it comes to helping others around you as well as under-privileged children, what is your philosophy behind this?
We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up and now I’m fortunate to live a very comfortable lifestyle. I can afford to help others and therefore I do, it’s that simple. We have a villa in Thailand and I support a local school there as well as an orphanage. We visit them each time we’re in Phuket to give the children new toys and donations we’ve collected. We’ve just installed a new playground in the school and it’s great to see the kids having so much fun.
Your favourite holiday destination?
Phuket – it’s our ultimate holiday destination and having a villa of our own means that it’s pretty much an open house, so we always have friends and family come and join us for part of our holiday. Being amongst my friends and family is the best relaxation for me.
Favourite online website for shopping?
I don’t tend to shop online, does that sound very old fashioned? The options here in Dubai are fairly limited. In fact, I don’t tend to shop much at all. I probably do one big shopping spree a year and it’s usually when I’m home in Australia or in the States.
Chloe’s Beauty, Hair and Nails is located on Jumeirah Beach Road, Shop 5, next to BurgerFuel, Opposite Saga World.
Tel: 04 388 4884