WanderlustComptoir 102

A highlight of the Dubai shopping scene

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Wander down Jumeirah Street past the villas and shopping malls, and you’ll come across something rather different. Located at number 102 in a pretty, converted villa, is Comptoir 102. Selling furniture, clothing, beauty products, and doubling as a café, this chic shop has been a sensation since it opened in 2012.

Founded by two French expats, Alexandra de Montaudouin and Emma Sawko, the brand has become a favourite for those who like their food — and their homewares — made naturally. Despite initially only selling furniture, the shop has become better known for its café and constantly changing menu. Like most successful entrepreneurial endeavours, it was created to solve a need.

‘After I came to Dubai from New York, I was looking for a one-stop shop to do my shopping, whether it was for clothes, jewellery, beauty products or food,’ says Sawko. ‘In 2012, it was a challenge to find organic products, let alone a store dedicated to organic ranges. We decided to fill that gap.’

Comptoir 102 is an Aladdin’s cave of carefully curated products – all reflecting the owners’ sensibilities. Take Raw, for example, their range of own-brand jewellery. Created by designer Mathilde Danglade, the collection features intricate, eye-catching designs using precious metals, precious- and semi-precious stones, that perfectly match the Comptoir 102 ethos.

 

A European concept

‘We wanted to open in a villa,’ says Sawko. ‘If you’re in a villa, you have to have a few different things to show. We have to be a destination and offer as many things as possible.’

The biggest challenge, however, was finding the right premises and then dealing with the red tape that comes with setting up a new business in Dubai.

‘We are so different that it was difficult for the municipality to understand where to put us,’ explains de Montaudouin.

‘They told us that we should not sell food and sofas together, that it wouldn’t work,’ adds Sawko. ‘When they came and saw the cement floor they thought it couldn’t be finished.’

The business partners can now look back and laugh. The hard work seems to have paid off.

 

Low-key luxury

It helps that the ethos that the brand lives by has become increasingly popular, both in Dubai and worldwide.

‘We evolved thanks to the growing demand for more natural products,’ explains Sawko. ‘Less bling and fast food, more low-key luxury fashion and slow food. From the very beginning the focus was on the healthy café, furniture and jewellery, but soon after we realised there was a gap in the fashion market and decided to introduce this into the store.’

In 2017 the pair opened a dedicated beauty corner, offering only clean, organic, natural and sustainable beauty products.

‘We’re focussing on ditching plastic, eschewing toxic chemicals and supporting sustainably sourced, plant-derived products; brands that care both for you and the environment,’ says Sawko.

That is also reflected in the kitchen where the duo use ‘age-old’ cooking techniques.

‘These techniques are mostly abandoned today as they are so time-consuming,’ says Sawko. ‘Techniques like pre-soaking, fermenting, cooking at a low temperature, steaming and dehydrating.’

Comptoir 102 is now looking to the future, having launched an online store in December 2018.

‘With Dubai being a stopover for many tourists, it was only natural to bring Comptoir 102 closer to those who have visited us,’ says Sawko.

Comptoir 102 is a welcome addition to the malls, souks, extravagant beach clubs and restaurants of Dubai. Conceived with love and created with care; for the Europeans among us it feels like home.

 

Three to try

Buckwheat and millet raw chocolate porridge

Start the day with this healthy recipe, consisting of gluten-free rolled oats, almond milk and raw cacao powder, all topped with blackberries and mint.

Heaven on earth smoothie

A mix of dates, banana, almond milk, raw cacao, almond nuts and cinnamon, this smoothie is great for your skin and hair, as well as enhancing brain function. It also tastes amazing.

Halloumi toast

Organic halloumi, tomato, cucumber, radish, coriander, black olives, spring onions, homemade pesto, almond nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame salt, all served on homemade organic bread.