It is truly an honor when an Arab woman earns International recognition for her success; Lamice Joujou from Lebanon won the Stevie Award which is known as the world’s premier business prize and most coveted one. Although married with three children Lamice found a way to pave her journey towards success and become one of the distinguished entrepreneurs.
Arab Woman Mag asked Lamice how it all started,
What drove you to become an entrepreneur?
“A pure coincidence! I was looking for a safe, ideal nursery to put my first born in and it just turned out that I didn’t find what I was looking for so my mother and I decided to open our own in 1997, and 3 other companies followed in 2001-2009 and 2013 respectively.”
Was it always your dream to be your own boss?
“I actually didn’t have the time to think of what path I wanted my career to take, as I got married while in University; earning a BA in psychology, and delivered my 1st baby soon after my Masters in Clinical Psychology. Yet, having had a great entrepreneurial experience with the nursery drove me to engage in founding a production house “Mazitou” in 2001, an entertainment center “FRIZZY” for teens in 2009, and a doll retail concept “My Doll & M”e in 2013. Things just happened and I’m glad they did happen this way. I believe that everything happens for a reason, and if I’m able to go back in time I would have definitely chosen again to become an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship is addictive especially if you love what you do then you will excel in doing it and get rewarded and eventually want to do more of it. That’s the addictive cycle I’m talking about.”
In your professional career what obstacles did you face and what did you do to overcome them?
“The main obstacles I faced were my lack of knowledge in business management at the early stages of my business start-up. Since I’m a psychology graduate, I had many challenges to set up my company on international standards, and I can say I learned that the hard way.
Another obstacle was my young age, as it was a bit challenging to be a 23 year old boss and have your employees take you seriously, that was resolved over time though.
What is worth mentioning as well, is how difficult it is to be a business woman trying to negotiate deals with business men around the region. It started as impossible, but now with all the empowerment support women are having and the many success stories we have around the region of women entrepreneurs, things are getting much better.”
What advice would you give women who are thinking about pursuing their own business?
“I would definitely encourage them, as there’s no better than knowing that you can wake up every morning with the ability to craft your dream the way you want, and make it happen. I just think they should really choose something they are passionate about, that’s the secret ingredient for success.”
How do you balance work and family? What challenges do you face? Any regrets?
“At first it was much easier as I had fewer responsibilities at work, and work itself was less demanding, but that was not the case for the past 6 years. Schedules became very hectic, long work hours and I had to bring some home. Yet, family has always been my priority, so crossing this line is not allowed. What helps me though is that if I have to, I can work from home, and I do that at times if any of the kids is sick or needs me for a reason or another.
I had a baby 2 years ago, a time when my work was on its highest point, yet no one suffered, I did what I had to do, take care of the baby breastfed him for 2 years, as I’m an advocate of breastfeeding and took him to meetings with me in the office while he could play, sleep while mommy gets done with her work. You just need to organize yourself and do first things first. Not easy all the time but I keep trying my best.”
How did you feel when you heard about your nomination for the Stevie Award?
“It was a great feeling, shock at first then peace, complete peace as being rewarded after all the hard work is really amazing!”
What are your future goals and dreams?
“Dreams are endless. Yet, I want my business to set foot outside the Lebanese borders and I’m pushing that real far. My goal is beyond the region.”
What are some of your greatest fears?
“That I wake up one day having no option but to leave my country. This for me is a nightmare.”
Anything you would like our readers to know about you as a person?
“Well, something that everyone who knows me notices about me: I’m a child inside a woman, and honestly I love that! I live around children, ones of my own and others through my businesses, and ‘m glad I can always keep this innocence and purity children carry and not lose it along the way, as it’s the essence of genuine happiness.”
It is also worth mentioning that Lamice is affiliated with the following prominent organizations:
Member in L.F.A-Lebanese Franchise Association
Member in LLWB-Lebanese League for women in business
Mentor at the Cherie Blair foundation for women
Fellow at the Vital Voices GROW program
Official presenter of the Sign2me program for hearing toddlers and babies