Lydia Schoonderbeek is the founder and CEO of Source Beauty, the first e-commerce beauty site in Egypt and North Africa.
Founded as a blog in 2016, it transformed into an e-commerce platform two years later.
What is the best way to start your day?
With coffee! I’m usually up at around 5.30am – I am very much a morning person. I love the silence while the house is still asleep. It’s really my only ‘me time’. I’ll review social media and emails in bed. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas that we can introduce to the Egyptian market.
I live between Cairo and London. So, in London, I’ll either take our dogs for a walk in the wide open spaces of Richmond Park or go rowing with my husband on the Thames before the work day starts. I love to be by the water, whether it’s the Red Sea or the river; it has a really calming and grounding effect on me.
If you could be any character from a movie, who would you be?
Well, my favourite character is Melvin Udall, played by Jack Nicholson in the film As Good As It Gets. I guess I associate with his battle to overcome reclusiveness and his obsessive-compulsive behaviour! It’s heart-warming to see how he softens after having to look after his neighbour’s dog. My two golden retrievers keep me sane.
What is your greatest achievement?
I think it must be finally finding real balance in my life. Building Source Beauty has been all-consuming and I’m immensely proud of what we’ve achieved as a team. But I’m really proud of getting to the point where I can balance Source Beauty with the truly important aspects of my life – having a happy son, husband, stepsons and dogs, and making a lovely home for us all. It’s not always easy to juggle everything but I do feel that my life is now more in balance than ever.
What advice would you give your 13-year-old self?
The best piece of advice to a younger self that I’ve come across is to value, take interest in, and invest in the people you meet and ‘click with’ through your early years, through university and your early work life. Those people could become your greatest lifelong friends, allies and supporters. It’s too easy when you’re young and in a hurry to not appreciate those important connections.
If you had 24 hours left on Earth, what would you do?
I’d have a wonderful dinner with my family and loved ones, and celebrate the great times we’ve enjoyed. Sitting down together for an evening meal is the only time in the day we get to be in one place as a family to talk and truly connect, so it’s a sacred time for me.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Dame Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter has been a huge inspiration. The idea of selling high fashion online just wasn’t appealing to designers and investors, who couldn’t imagine selling goods without a physical retail outlet. With Net-a-Porter, she transformed the way designer fashion is retailed, paving the way for so many successful female-led start-ups in online luxury and retail.
What would you like to achieve in the next 10 years?
We have ambitious and exciting plans for Source Beauty and ECC, so delivering on our growth strategy will be a great achievement. At the same time, encouraging our children through education and into careers that they love, living happy and fulfilled lives, would be a great accomplishment. Although I’m dreading the ‘empty nest’ when they’ve left home, I do look forward to spending more time with my husband to travel and share new experiences.