Meet the Visionary Palestinian-Iraqi Founder of This Cult-Favorite Hair Concept | Savoir Flair
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Meet the Visionary Palestinian-Iraqi Founder of This Cult-Favorite Hair Concept
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by Mimi Droeshout 4-minute read November 1, 2023

Building an empire, one hair strand at a time.

article DEENA ALAWAID

As the force behind the trailblazing salon-agency hybrid concept Collective, Palestinian-Iraqi hairstylist Deena Alawaid has revolutionized the region's beauty landscape while making inroads on the international stage. Alawaid's role goes far beyond snipping and styling; she is an entrepreneur, a mother, and an advocate for representing Middle Eastern talent in an industry where they are glaringly underrepresented.

Driven by an ethos of collective strength and individual uniqueness, Alawaid has crafted an empire as multifaceted as it is influential. With stints at Paris Fashion Week and new product launches, her plate is full, yet her vision remains focused. The key to her sweeping success, she believes, is a harmony between diverse talents and an unshakeable commitment to her own intuition. She does this all while mastering the art of work-life balance — juggling high-profile gigs, retail releases, and editorial features with motherhood. Her young daughter, Amina, is often seen accompanying her, whether it's backstage at a photo shoot or jet-setting across the globe. 

DEENA ALAWAID

Alawaid tells us, "I have always believed that there is so much talent within the Middle East that is capable of sitting on a global stage." Frustrated by the trend of brands hiring talent from abroad rather than tapping into the region's vast skill set, she made it her mission to "close that gap in the market" with Collective.

The concept serves as more than just a salon; it's a platform designed to bring together artists from all around the world — a place where like-minded creatives come together. "Growing up in Western society, I always felt underrepresented," Alawaid shares, but with the salon's diverse team, fluent in over six languages and proficient in working with all hair types, her commitment to creating an inclusive environment is reflected through and through. "The Middle East is so dynamic and broad; it doesn't do us justice to be represented by one region on a global stage.”

In an industry where women, particularly from the Middle East, are often marginalized, Alawaid sees no barrier to what can be achieved. "If you're passionate and love what you do, there are absolutely no boundaries anyone can set that you can't break through," she says. The birth of her daughter has only fueled her ambition. “I want her to see that she can do anything she sets her mind to," she declares.

DEENA ALAWAID

Her impressive hair empire doesn’t just end there. With new product releases under Collective Haircare, Alawaid taps into another niche that most others were missing. Combatting the sweltering heat and humidity that characterizes the Middle East's climate is no small feat. Yet, this served as the catalyst for her innovative product line, which features the cult-favorite Wax Stick. Alawaid shares, "Many women in the region wear their hair up during warmer days, and the Wax Stick was born out of a need to smooth flyaways while maintaining hair integrity." Infused with a blend of oils, the Wax Stick not only encourages hair growth, but also stands strong against the Middle East's ever-present humidity.  

Although incredibly humble, it’s impossible to overlook Alawaid's impressive roster of celebrity clientele, such as Razane Jammal, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Huda Kattan, Nancy Ajram, and Natalia Vodianova (to name only a few). "I've been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people who have tried many hair artists and products throughout the years," she says. Working with these big names, combined with the collective feedback from her other clients, has aided her in fine-tuning products that are now staples. “From the packaging and the scent to the quality of the product, it helps because I know these individuals have literally tried it all.”

What lies ahead for Collective is closely guarded but promising. "We have a lot of things in the works on both a regional and global level," she teases. As the brand continues to evolve, so too does the narrative of Middle Eastern talent, with the help of Alawaid. A true entrepreneur, she sets the standard in an ever-evolving industry, promising a future where the spotlight shines brightly on the Middle East.

In a notable initiative that truly shows her commitment as an entrepreneur and a community leader, Alawaid has recently launched a fundraising initiative. Collaborating with a select group of artists from across Dubai, Deena Alawaid and her peers are volunteering their time and talents to raise crucial funds aimed at providing humanitarian aid and relief for Gaza.

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