Fierce Fem

Carla Conte, creative director of Dubai-based Brand Creative, sits down with CID and discusses how to get inside a power shopper’s mind.

Though in its infancy, Brand Creative has already racked up quite an impressive oeuvre. Led by married duo Carla Conte and Mohammed El Hijazi, it’s an inspiring company that manages to create brand after brand without losing any steam.

“We do everything from fresh, like brand strategy, graphic design, logo design, menus, packaging, staff uniforms—all of that. We have two specialists in house, graphic designers, and then there’s myself. I studied interior architecture in Canada. So there’s a big group of us who are interior designers,” Carla starts off.

For a retail design agency, Brand Creative usually works with larger companies from the industry, who are interested in starting a new venture. And according to Conte, Brand Creative focuses on the all the small details.

Carla explains: “They come in and say ‘Got a product in mind. Don’t even know what to name it. Can you come up with something?’ Sometimes people come to us and they have an idea and no strategy. So we’ll do the entire branding and naming, and all the graphics that go with it; though, most of the time, it’s a full package.

“We get a lot of people who come with cool ideas—local, home grown concepts—and that’s the thing that pushes our buttons in a good way. We sit with business people who are like us, and they feel that connection. They come to us and they know they’ve got someone with 14 years of experience with big agencies. They’re not paying the same price, but they’re getting the same kind of cool, funky work.”

When it comes to working with Brand Creative, Carla is adamant about this fact. Being proud of her team is not something she hides well, nor does she intend to. She’s the epitome of a team player, and makes it known how much she values the work and support of others. And team work seems to provide a sort of confidence for the stabilising designer, which calmly emanates throughout conversation.

Carla’s confidence may sound modest at first, but it can be quickly backed up with an archive of creative, soulful projects that truly speak to younger, more hip generations.

“We attract somebody who is obviously the kind of person who wants something fresh, who wants to feel like they’ve got that personal touch with me. I’m on every project; there is no junior designer to pass work onto. We don’t even have junior designers. In the office, we’re really focused on people who have experience. That’s why we’re a small-ish team,” she explains, before adding: “We’re not so small though.”

Born and bred in Canada to an Italian family, Carla has come a long way from her roots. The designer used to work with a large Canadian agency that had, for a while, an office in Dubai—allowing her to become familiar with the region and even introducing her to her husband to be.

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