Coral Perfumes’ rapid rise as one of UAE’s most trusted and leading perfume manufacturers and retailers is as dramatic as Shibi Thampi’s successful journey from being a sales executive into one of the region’s most influential businessmen.
Nearly two decades ago, Shibi wanted to give himself and his family back home in Kerala, India a comfortable life. Seeking greener pastures, he found himself in the vast deserts of United Arab Emirates instead courtesy of a three-month visa, armed with hope and determination that he can make his lofty dreams come true.
Upon landing in Dubai, a pressing concern, common for other individuals trying their luck overseas, posed an immediate challenge to Shibi. “When we reached the airport at around 10 in the morning, I have no idea where to go. I don’t know where to stay,” he recalled.
Good thing for Shibi, he was able to get in touch with one of his friend’s sister living in Sharjah, the next emirate north of Dubai. “I kept my luggage there and roamed around to look for a bedspace. I found a sharing room costing 150 dirhams and I paid 50 dirhams in advance,” he shared.
With only around 100 dirhams to spare for his food, Shibi wasted no time looking for a job to cover his other expenses. It didn’t take him long and finally got a chance to earn a living as a sales executive for a perfume distribution company with a meager salary of 1,500 dirhams plus commission.
“But I have never got any commission,” Shibi revealed in between laughs.
His dedication to his craft and endless pursuit to achieve the target goals allowed Shibi to be promoted as a product development executive, earning twice as much this time and learning more about the business side of his profession—from perfume development to packaging and so on.
Eventually, Shibi started to have some bigger dreams—opening his own perfume factory.
“Honestly, I started my first own business without sufficient money and it took me nearly one and half years to complete the structure. There were a lot of growing pains back then,” he said. “Luckily, the factory got big job works and it became an instant hit, doing private labeling for big chains and brands.
“Of course, I am grateful to have a great friend in Faizal C.P. who’s been there for me since Day One. He provided guidance and financial assistance whenever I needed the most. He’s really a big part of my success and I owe a lot to him until now.”
Shibi realized his childhood dream when Coral Perfumes came to life in 2012, starting with an office in Coral Springs, Florida in USA followed by a factory at Al Quoz, an industrial area in Dubai. From there, his business started to grow far beyond what he initially aspired for with 10 current branches all over the UAE, catering high-quality perfumes to all nationalities from all walks of life.
“My journey was rough, not as smooth as I hoped it would be. But by the grace of this land, Coral Perfumes has become a highly-trusted and leading perfume brand that it is right now. Whatever we have, I owe it to this wonderful city of Dubai and rulers of the UAE,” acknowledged Shibi.
“For me, after India, this is my home. I have travelled around the world, from US, Europe and other Asian countries, but Dubai is the safest that I have been to. I am proud to be part of the Dubai’s transformation as a ‘City of Fragrance of Love.’ This is really the place to be and I want to spend the rest of my life here.”