“I want to empower people to own their stories and be more confident in their skin.”
At just 23, Najla Alfardan is already an entrepreneur, certified nutritionist & skincare expert. On October 15th, she launched her lifelong dream project – Qiyorro, the first-of-its-kind conscious beauty platform in Qatar. With Qiyorro, she aims to change the narrative of beauty in the region to focus on more holistic & sustainable solutions via honest stories, expert tips and some of the most advanced beauty products.
She will also inaugurate Qatar’s first Orangetheory Fitness studio in a matter of weeks. Clearly, health and beauty are at the heart of all her initiatives. Her affinity to the world of wellbeing is no secret. With her refreshing yet relatable conversations on social media about clean eating, skin issues and emotional wellness, it’s easy to see why her online presence is growing so swiftly.
Over the course of a freewheeling conversation, we discovered more about the unassuming yet erudite Najla Alfardan. Q. What’s been the biggest motivation for you to start your own businesses?
I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many successful entrepreneurs and such strong female role models. Qatar is one country where you see women at the helm of many businesses and institutions. This in itself inspired me to carve out a niche that was uniquely and authentically mine. They may just seem like new businesses from the outside, but my initiatives are defined entirely by my personal experiences. All through adolescence, I struggled with skin, gut and weight issues, not realizing they were all interlinked. It took a quantum of research, expert advice and trial & error for me understand what my body needs. Now that I have all this knowledge, not only am I empowered, I’m inspired to share it with others through each of my initiatives.
Q. How did your time away in university at Northeastern in Boston shape you?
Boston was a great learning experience. Not just because I was studying business and economics at university, but because I had to learn how to cook, do my laundry, pay my bills and for the first time, look after myself. There were the profound life lessons too like becoming curious about everything, learning how to think critically or simply, accepting different perspectives. But most of all, my experience abroad helped me understand myself better. Consciously connecting with my thoughts, emotions and reactions allowed me to appreciate and love myself. And that’s when I began to put my health first. I found the discipline to forgo instant gratification for long-term benefits. I believed in myself -that I could do better. Self-love is not spoken of enough and yet it’s what can push you to dream, achieve and be more.
Q. What was the most challenging readjustment once you returned home?
In Boston, I had this world of holistic beauty treatments, organic foods and supplements at my doorstep. When I came back to Qatar, however, sustaining that lifestyle became a challenge with limited access and shipping delays. While solving the issue for myself, I inadvertently began to think of solutions on a macro level for more people like me in the country.
Q. What makes Qiyorro your dream project?
Qiyorro is an extremely special initiative to me because it aims to change the narrative of beauty in the region. For too long, we have looked at beauty from a purely aesthetic perspective rather than a holistic one. Instead of creating yet another company that sets new standards of beauty, I want to empower both men & women to take ownership of what beauty means to them. The goal is to help people feel proud and confident in their own skin. To do so, we need to inspire you with real stories from our community, expert recommendations and some of the best beauty products that have, so far, been largely inaccessible in Qatar.
Q. Why a conscious beauty platform?
To be conscious means to be aware, responsive and responsible. That’s what beauty should be. It’s an inside-out approach rather than a quick-fix one. Beauty is not just about how you look; it’s really the sum of parts – mental wellbeing, gut health, skincare, hair care and most importantly, self love. This holistic stance is what makes our platform the first conscious beauty platform in Qatar.
Q. You’re also opening Qatar’s first Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) studio. Tell us more.
I was a member of OTF in Boston, where I fell in love with the concept. It’s one of American’s leading fitness franchises that offers group classes based on individuals’ heart rates. This allows people to exercise within their fitness capacity and keep track of their progress on screens across the studio. The workouts use interval training and change regularly to focus on different muscle groups and keep things exciting. It’s training backed by science and technology and the results are truly amazing.
Q. How do you see your businesses fit into this overcrowded wellness industry?
It’s amazing to see so many fitness & wellness businesses thriving in Qatar. It just goes to show that consumers are discerning and that they are constantly seeking healthier options and more alternatives. In Qatar, we’ve only seen wellness through the lens of diet and exercise. Wellness through the lens of technology, fashion, beauty, mental health, and a host of other industries still remains unexplored. There’s certainly room for more business ideas; we’ve only just begun.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to start up a new concept here in Doha, and is maybe a little hesitant or overwhelmed?
I’m fairly new to this myself but the best advice I can give is the advice I have received: think of your challenges less as problems and more as solutions waiting to be uncovered. It’s normal to be anxious or overwhelmed and it’s important to acknowledge and understand those feelings. Moreover, as hard as it may be, try not to fear failure. There will be bumps in the road, but instead of perceiving them as setbacks, recognize them as opportunities to fine-tune your ideas or to even shift course for the better. And of course, make sure you have the right team that believes in your concept and helps bring it to life.