For Dubai-based royal wedding stage designers and event planners Ariel and Laarni de Leon Eugenio, the springboard to success of any once in a lifetime event depends on how you triumphantly create something remarkable. The couple has been in the business for more than two decades and they still fall in love with what they do every single day.
How they made it
Ariel and Laarni first met while working for a TV station in Manila. He was a props designer while she was a set designer. They got married. After marriage, the couple dreamed to build a brighter future for the family. Banking on their experience in the Philippines, the couple went to Dubai in 1987 at a time when the cosmopolitan city was starting to bloom. They worked for an events company. Laarni said, “While overseas, I practiced by heart the value of working smart not just working hard. I started as a Project Manager of Petals in Dubai from 1988 to 2000 then as Event Organizer at Lava from 2001 to 2007.”
After 20 long years, they decided to start their own business. Confident and fully aware of their capabilities, they teamed-up and established in 2007 the Ariel Wedding and Organizing, also known as Ariel’s Design, a company which focuses mostly for wedding stages. It was not easy for in UAE, a business can only be set up with a native sponsor. This was a time when there were only few Filipinos who went solo in Middle East. But with their reputation, they were able to find a good one and for that, Laarni said they are extremely grateful. And they made it big in the Gulf.
A woman of substance
Laarni has received many awards such as a Woman of Substance (2010) from Illustrado and Filipino Achiever (2013) from Kabayan Weekly. How she made the prestigious list of women achievers is a story that evokes inspiration from among overseas Filipinos not only in UAE but around Middle East.
Sometime in 2001, when Gulf News ran a story about the “Pride and perceptions in the female Filipino Community,” Filipino achievers came forward to bust myths about their community and throw light on the many fields they have made their mark in.
Laarni, a self-made entrepreneur, was quoted in the article to have said, “A Filipina is beautiful inside and outside, warm, kind, considerate, charming and honest. To overcome any stereotype, you have to have a goal. Be focused and be grounded. In business, you should be honest with your clients. Overall, you also have to be flexible and be able to adjust to any situation.”
Good name and talent
Laarni and her husband were featured in “My Puhunan” in an attempt to share their secret as successful Filipino entrepreneurs in Dubai. The program host, broadcast journalist Karen Davila finds out what it takes to build a successful business in a foreign country. The couple has been described as the “most sought-after, trusted, popular wedding planners for royalties and billionaires in Dubai.” How she made it, Laarni was quoted as saying to Davila in an interview, “Laway lang. Sa awa naman ng Diyos ang mga tao dito sa Dubai eh medyo kilala na rin kami ng mga pamilya.”
In a follow-up article, “How a Pinoy couple became royal wedding planners in Dubai” posted at ABS-CBN.com, reporter Cathy Rose A. Garcia wrote: “In Dubai, lavish weddings with hundreds, or even thousands, of guests are the norm. And a Filipino couple is helping organize these huge weddings for Dubai royalty. Ariel and Laarni Eugenio now have their own wedding planning business in Dubai. But it was no overnight success for this couple.”
Garcia noted that the “couple admits all they had as puhunan (investment) was their good name and talent. But they were already known in Dubai circles for their excellent work in organizing events, so their business took off.”
Husband and wife tandem
Outside of Dubai, they have been asked to make grand designs in Oman and Malaysia. More projects are on her list and so Laarni keeps on remodeling the contents of Ariel’s warehouses.
As executive head of the company, she meets with the potential clients to discuss the plans for the upcoming function. But wherever the negotiation goes, Laarni has this assurance that their company is prepared to handle the task at hand. While Ariel enjoys the prestige and honor of having been recognized as an ultimate wedding stage designer in Dubai, Laarni said they can’t just rest easily. “In life, there will always be a bigger challenge so one must not rest. Just take deep breaths and breaks when time gives you the chance. Always, aim to better yourself and your surroundings.”
By: Yul Espartero