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Teenage refugee a Collins Street CEO

3 June 20200 comments

At just 17 Fadi Abo is the founder and CEO of an international cosmetics business with a six figure turnover.

His online skin and body care company Clarcias sells to clients in more than a dozen countries and has 30 employees.

And just six years after arriving in Australia, having fled the brutal conflict in his Syrian homeland, Fadi has achieved his dream of opening an office on Collins Street.

“It’s just a share office but it lends legitimacy and prestige to the business,” Fadi said.

“For now, it’s the culmination of my passion to dive into business and into cosmetics,” said the Year 11 student at Melbourne’s Loyola College.

Forced to leave their home in Damascus in 2012, Fadi and his family relocated to France where his father Johnny worked as a journalist.

They spent time living in New York before finally settling in Australia.

“It was difficult at such a young age to lose everything you ever knew, all your friends, and end up in a whole new world with a different way of thinking,” Fadi said.

He said his family became more exposed as the conflict worsened.

“My father was a journalist working for international media, so he was targeted by the government. And we also witnessed the escalating violence; there were explosions and a shooting incident at our school during recess one day,” Fadi said.

“But we are very grateful to be in this beautiful and progressive country. We have been given the resources and opportunity to start a new life,” he said.

“And as a result, I have been able to express my love for cosmetics and the business and entrepreneurial side of myself,” Fadi said.

He started Clarcias three years ago – selling organic make up, skin care and teeth whitener – and the business has just achieved its third consecutive quarter of growth.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously been tragic but we’ve had a rush of orders because people are staying at home. We are simplifying the equation for customers with free shipping and a 60-day money back guarantee,” Fadi said

Like most entrepreneurs, Fadi is an early riser.

“I wake up at 5am daily to maximise and efficiently use my time. I jump straight into work, checking any updates from the company. After a couple of hours of work, I start preparing for school,” he said. 

“After school, I head to the gym as I believe fitness is important. Once I am at home I study and finish school tasks. Even though I value my company, I want to prioritise my education.

“After finishing my school work, I spend the remaining hours of the evening focusing my attention on the company,” Fadi said. 

He said his passion for business and skincare began when he was a boy who “loved to look and smell good”.

His first experience with business came when he used to draw pictures and sell them to his peers around the neighbourhood.

“I also ran an online T-shirt company selling t-shirts with unique designs on them,” Fadi said. 

“But now my business is skincare and it’s something that I really love doing. “I think the business world is very interesting and it has a deep meaning to me.”

Fadi’s entrepreneurial passion has seen him delve into acting and modelling.

“I think acting is a very important part of performing arts. I think performing and art is very beautiful as you can really transform where a person is going and it can really show someone’s emotions and how a person can change their voice and how they can transform into different characters,” he said.

“It’s something really interesting and something I want to embody.”

Fadi says his plan is to finish his schooling and eventually study law at university. His elder brother Akkad is currently studying pharmacy at Monash University.