RHODubai Caroline Brooks Has Some Savage Business Advice You'll Want to Hear
Admittedly, Caroline Brooks didn't think it was that big of a deal.
After leaving her position in tech, she wasn't feeling all that swayed when the CEO of one of Dubai's top brokerage firms offered her the role of director of his soon-to-be-launched rental-focused real estate company.
Most other people, she acknowledged in an exclusive interview with E! News, "would be like, 'Wow, that's great!'" But she had planned to take some time off, travel, spend time with her family back in Boston and "I was like, 'I want to do my own thing.'"
Asked point-blank how he could get her to come onboard, "I said, 'Give me shares in the company. Let's own it together,'" she recalled. "And that's how I became one of the co-owners of the brokerage."
Later relaying the conversation to some girlfriends, they were stunned. "They say, 'Caroline, you're so hardcore. I'd be too shy to ask,'" explained the 34-year-old. "Well, a closed mouth doesn't get fed."
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The way she sees it, Brooks continued, "What is the worst that's going to happen? Somebody says no? Then you grab your stuff and keep it moving. Seven doors may close, but that eighth one that opens is going to be the one that's for you."
And if all else fails, you can just shatter the damn thing.
That's what The Real Housewives of Dubai castmember did when she launched The Glass House. Frustrated that she was unable to get her hair done at any of the city's plentiful luxury salons because "they don't specialize in my ethnicity or my hair type, so they could ruin my hair," the mom to 10-year-old Adam (with ex-husband Zoran) styled a solution.
"I said, 'I'm going to open up Dubai's first and only inclusive salon,'" she recalled. "All of my friends said, 'You're nuts,' but I was like, 'Why can't I sit in a chair next to you and I get braids and you get a balayage?'"
After spending months ensuring each of her hand-picked stylists were trained in everything from sew-in weaves to highlighting techniques, "We only opened four-and-a-half months ago," she shared, "and we're ready to expand."
She invited E! News into her (figurative) salon chair to share her winning formula.
E! News: You moved to Dubai at 21. What extra challenges did you face launching your career in a foreign country?
Caroline Brooks: I feel opposite, actually. I feel like Dubai has a bad rap. Some people think it's completely different than what it is. Dubai is so open. The locals, they're so kind, generous, giving, supportive. And the lifestyle here is a lot less stressful because of the safety. There are rules here. And people can say, "Oh, it's such a restrictive country." But you grow to love those rules when you know that you're safe.
I'll always have a home in America. But this is home. I don't see myself going anywhere anytime soon. I see myself growing. We want to open 10 more Glass Houses here. I'm looking at Riyadh next, Saudi Arabia. Because that's another market that's opening up. I just see change happening in this region. And I'm happy to be stepping into the change as it happens. Because history will be made and I'm pretty excited to be part of that.
E!: It can feel very intimidating to ask for a promotion, a raise or just a better job offer. How do you handle it?
CB: Always demand what you want. I wouldn't be where I am today if I just stood back and waited for a handout. Or I stood back and just hoped that they'd offer me something. No, I'm going to ask for it. This is what I want, ask for it.
And I know it's hard. A lot of women, in general, have suffered emotionally. We've lost a lot of confidence, whether it be from horrible relationships or traumas in our past, and that alone can really hold you back. I think just kind of get a grip and restart. Hit the reset button and know your worth. Who cares if one person doesn't believe in you? You know how many people in the world there are? Who gives a damn if 10 don't believe in you? What about the other 10 billion?
E!: What piece of business advice has really stuck with you?
CB: My mom has always told me, "At your lowest point, it can only go up from there." Once you reach rock bottom, all you can do is climb. So if you are in a really low place in your life, just look at it like tomorrow could be a brighter day. Tomorrow is an opportunity for me to start over. Every day is a new chance for you to become a new you.
I lost a lot of confidence when I was married. And as soon as I got out of that toxic environment, I became really confident. And that self-reassurance and that confidence really makes you succeed. You really have to believe in yourself before you can even think that anybody else is going to believe in you.
E!: You had no doubts that your business would succeed. How do you find that sort of confidence?
CB: If you truly believe in what you're doing, other people will believe in it too. People sense when you're unsure. I was sure of myself that this had to happen. And it made everybody else around me feel my energy and feel sure of themselves as well. If you have a thought, This is amazing, this is what I want to do—just do it. Don't overthink.
If you fail, you can try again. What's the worst that can happen? It doesn't work out. Try something else. The best that can happen is that it does work out and it becomes an amazing success.
E!: What's the key to creating a successful business?
CB: With The Glass House, it wasn't that I opened a normal salon. We have hundreds. But what we did need was something inclusive. We had none. So I found something where there was a gap in the market and I filled it. Don't step into an oversaturated market and have the same thing that everybody else has. Have a great USP. What is your unique selling point? What makes you special? Once you find what makes you special, you're going to be a smash hit.
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E!: Any advice for those struggling to find that inner strength?
CB: Don't be ashamed to go heal. Don't be ashamed to get therapy. I'm on a healing journey still myself. Me and my friend, Sara Al Madani, we're both, seeing a wonderful spiritual healer. Don't be afraid to let people tell you great things about yourself. Hearing it from other people, that helps boost your confidence. Hearing how much you are worth, especially for women or men who have been put down and told that they're not worth anything, it helps when you hear that that's not true. You are worth something, your life is so valuable.
E!: What mistakes have you made along the way and what have you learned from them?
CB: You have to be careful. You should always lead with kindness and always lead with an open mind. But protect yourself and protect your peace. Let people earn your trust. Not everybody deserves all of you. That was a mistake I've made in my life. I was super trusting to people who didn't have good intentions for me. Don't keep a guard up, but be guarded. Protect yourself.
E!: What's your ultimate goal for your business?
CB: I never intended for The Glass House to just be a salon and spa. It's a brand. We're gonna open up a full-on spa. We're going to do the cryotherapy chambers, we're gonna do the salt room, we're gonna do it all. And I guess I can drop this little bomb: We are starting our skincare line. I've been in labs nonstop since the summer doing testing. We're actually at the packaging phase. I'm doing something that nobody's done before. I won't say what the first launch is going to be but it's something very needed. And it's for women of all colors and it's something that we're all gonna love. Wherever I see that little gap, I'm gonna fill it.