Photographer – Ayaad Damouni at D the Agency Fashion Director– Meredith Damouni at D the Agency Location – Shot on location at Tribeca, JBR, Dubai Hair and MUA – Ania Poniatowska from MMG Artists
We meet Creative Director of Tribeca, Vesna Vrankovic, a beauty with a fierce instinct for brand development and a unique vision for the hospitality industry in the region and beyond.
Describe your brand?
Tribeca is best described as a lifestyle brand that is passionate about the slow food movement and organic food. We, at Tribeca believe that leading a healthy lifestyle is very important but at the same time understand that you can’t make 100% healthy choices all the time. Sometimes you want to eat that burger or chocolate cake. Sometimes you want to have a glass of wine and eat french fries. We try and give our customers healthier options such as organic wine, paleo lasagne, Kale pizza and organic chocolate cake! We strongly believe that balance is the key to being healthy and enjoying life.
How has this brand addressed an issue in the market?
Dubai is very fast passed and new restaurants and bars are popping up and closing daily. We believe that in order to stay appealing and interesting to our guests we need to evolve and offer new and exciting experiences. From changing our menu seasonally to working with various musicians, artists and promoters that are all part of our Tribeca family and help keep our venue exciting in the market place.
Why is this an important niche to fill?
I believe that people have become more health orientated and conscious about their food and lifestyle choices in recent years. This is partly due to the vast amounts of information available on the internet and the ever-present influence of social media. Many people believe in clean living but also want to enjoy life. It is this balanced niche that is our primary target market. A few years ago in Dubai, when the idea for Tribeca was conceptualised, there weren’t any venues offering organic food and beverages in a lounge bar environment. There was a few organic breakfast and lunch restaurants but nothing evening and nightlife orientated. I have an active social life and enjoy meeting my girlfriends for dinner at least once a week but I am also an advocate of organic food and healthy life style choices. I guess in essence the concept was born from the type of place I wanted to go out to in Dubai.
What has been the greatest challenge in starting your business and launching it to market?
The greatest challenge I have to say has been staffing. I was born and raised in Australia where customer service is an integral part of your business. This has been the greatest challenge in running the business as your staff are the ones who actually communicate directly with your customers. They are a direct reflection of your brand. Educating staff about organic food and exceptional customer service remains an ongoing challenge in Tribeca. We now have a fantastic team we are happy with and we will continue to evolve and strive for exceptional customer service and of-course delicious organic food.
Describe the mindset you have as a niche marketing specialist.
If I could describe my mind set in one word it would be originality. The market is saturated with brands and the key way to get exposure and retain your customers is to be original. This can be realized in many ways, in your decor, food, design features, marketing strategies and so forth. Not everyone will love your brand but I guess they are not meant to and as long as you are passionate about your brand, you will always find your loyal customers who believe in the brand.
What are the most exciting projects in your field globally that you feel are real game-changers?
I feel that in recent years people are eating out more often especially in Dubai. Restaurants are now the ‘Go To’ destination where people will stay at the venue all night rather than eat dinner and head to a bar or club afterwards. I guess this shift toward this preference has enabled restaurants to retain their customers all night by shifting the ambience from a restaurant to lounge bar by employing a DJ and other forms of entertainment. I absolutely love to see the Fusion of cultures on a menu and shared dining experiences. For us the binding ingredient is wholesome and organic produce and thus we love to incorporate different cultural influences within our menu.
How has your experience launching TRIBECA been important in launching your new consulting business Bond Leisure?
Tribeca was our first project that was created and launched from scratch. We did everything from sourcing the location to designing the interior to creating the menu and developing the branding. Whilst we have worked with international brands in the past such as Buddha Bar and Puro Beach, which have inspired us and given us the tools to open our own venue and work as consultants for other brands. Being owner operators has allowed us to gain a better understanding of our clients needs. We have made the mistakes first-hand in order to ensure that our clients don’t. We also understand the key branding and operational requirements that are essential to a new venue as we have launched a successful brand ourselves.
Your modeling career must have put you in some interesting situations – what was one of the most memorable jobs you have worked on?
I have had many memorable jobs so it’s very difficult to pick just one! One that comes to mind as being an amazing experience was close to the beginning of my career. I was new to the game and I was very young and in complete disbelief that I was chosen from hundreds of girls to go to Bali and shoot an editorial for an Australian teen magazine. I was there for 7 days but I only shot for two days so I had a lot of time to enjoy the food and culture and do my own thing. I have had many incredible jobs since and shot in some amazing destinations but I guess this one remains the most memorable as it was my first.
What did modeling give you that was completely unique?
Modeling gave me the confidence and ability to work with new people on a daily basis and the ability to communicate with people from various cultures. Sometimes you are in situations where you are at a shoot in a country where nobody speaks English and you need to work together as a team to produce the desired result. This has sometimes been challenging but at the same time it has helped me develop certain personal characteristics over the years that have served me well in my new endeavors. The most important thing that the modeling industry has given me is the opportunity to work with very inspiring and creative people who have inspired my own creative ideas.
What is your dream for the next 5 years? Do you feel that having your business in Dubai is an advantage?
I would love to travel and consult for restaurants around the world. We currently have a few international projects but I would love to travel to regions such as Latin America and Europe for work. Owning a business in Dubai has defiantly been an advantage in many ways. I believe working in Dubai gives you the opportunity to be an entrepreneur like no other country in the world. Yes sometimes you are thrown in the deep end doing something that you have not tried before but I believe this is the best way to learn.
Where is your favorite travel destination and why?
I have to say I have been blessed to travel to many destinations but I still love New York City best..hence the inspiration behind Tribeca. The city is truly like no other. I could walk all day in New York City and never get bored. There is just so much life and creativity out there and I find it inspirational.
What is your one indulgence that you can’t do without?
I have 3! Life would be dull without Cheese, chocolate and wine!
What is your ultimate must-have?
Sadly it’s my phone. I haven’t changed my phone number in 10 years and I have to avoid the temptation to open my eyes and grab my phone each morning! My new rule is to pick it up while I am having my morning coffee and not before. Although I’m still working in that one!