Joëlle Dinnage is an award-winning entrepreneur, businesswoman, and international art dealer. In 2010 Joëlle started her first business and launched her first art gallery focused on Urban and Graffiti art. She founded the ‘Global Art Agency’ in 2011, which now has expanded with offices in London and Dubai. She is also the Founder of the annual ‘The Global Art Awards’ in Dubai. And recently started working together with His Royal Highness Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoun on improving the Art & Culture in the Middle East.
In this interview, Joëlle Dinnage talks about her journey as an entrepreneur and the 3rd edition of the ‘Global Art Awards’ held in Dubai recently.
Joëlle, Thank You for talking with us. Tell us more about your tryst with Entrepreneurship.
Believe it or not, I started doing business in my very early years. I remember when a fellow classmate (both aged 7) found money in the streets. I exchanged it to him for some sweets in my pocket. My mum found the money and made me give it back to him, haha. That was just the beginning. I had a small business at secondary school (aged 11) when I sold CD’s to classmates and even the teachers had orders with me. I was very creative from a young age and loved to draw and paint. My dad always told me “You’re gonna start selling your art in the streets and become famous later”. So I started selling my own art (aged 13) to friends and family, at my hometown and beyond. My dad was the driving force on my entrepreneurship skills. He sadly passed away last year, but I hope I am doing him proud.
I went onto Art Academy and then moved to London where I started my first business. The rest is history.
What were the initial challenges that you faced in your endeavor and how challenging was becoming an entrepreneur for you?
The challenge for me has been that I have been let down so many times. I am not trusting many people right now. I have been stabbed in the back by the people I considered as my family. I have been through hell lately but came out of it stronger. You will be able to read the whole story in my book, to be released next year.
You are an inspiration for many women. Is being a woman entrepreneur tough? If yes, how do you cope up with the day to day challenges of being a Women Entrepreneur?
Yes!!! There are many bullshi**ers around that present me a “great collaboration offers”. When I meet them nothing happens but they keep wanting to stay in touch and “let’s go out for dinner” – Yuk! I am a very feisty and straightforward businesswoman so I select my business proposals and if my gut tells me bullshi* – My team simply won’t even reply anymore. You would be amazed by the blue tick verified Instagram accounts that have amazing proposals… Nah, bullshi*. I don’t do bullshi*. I am real. But it’s tough because I am a trusting person but business life has made me lose that innocence a little bit – which is a shame. Because I love my purity, so I am working on that a lot with my life coach right now.
Tell us more about the Global Art Awards held in Dubai recently?
The Global Art Awards is one of my best creations ever! Just a few years ago I had this vision to create something like the ‘Oscars for the Art World’. There is nothing like it. And the art world has so many layers, I wanted to provide the emerging artists a platform to get recognition and boost their career, so I collaborated with Wall Street Journal, Armani and other fantastic brands.. BAM! 3 years later I am organising the third Global Art Awards, and have a partnership with His Royal Highness Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoun (Ruler of Abu Dhabi) to encourage the Art & Culture in the entire UAE. I am thrilled!
Over the last few years, we have seen some high net worth individuals heading towards Philanthropy. You are also a firm believer in the concept of Philanthropy. As an Entrepreneur, how important is it to give back to society ?
That’s my main goal. To give back to the world. I see myself working as a full-time Philanthropist – This is when I am at my happiest. I have been lucky enough to travel to Tanzania to help the orphanage of ‘Bwejuu’ giving gifts personally to the orphans on Xmas day and spend the day together. In February 2014 I got a chance to visit the orphanage ‘Save Blessing Child Home’ in Kathmandu to educate and organise art classes for the orphans. In 2015 I managed to raise £ 6000 GBP together with ‘Act Against Ebola’ at the Blenheim Palace Charity Gala for ‘Doctors without Borders’. Currently I am raising money for Cancer Research. I would say that it is very important to share what you have achieved with the marginalised and with those who can be considered as less lucky as few people are.
Lastly, any suggestions you would like to give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Stay real, and get rid of toxic people. Believe in yourself and do good 🙂