In 1979, young Dora received a beautiful locket of cat's eye, a gemstone which is thought to have intense planetary energies, from her husband Rumi. This little gesture of love has now become a brand name we all know.
The young couple – Sayeed Siddiqui Rumi and Ashrafun Siddiqui Dora – were the founders of Cats Eye. Over the years the brand has become a pioneer of lifestyle and clothing trademark in the country with 24 stores around the city.
The young couple, both from well off families, went to Canada to have a better future in 1971. After trying to settle up their life in a foreign country for nine years, they came back home in 1980 with only Tk54,000 which they used to start their own business.
"Cats Eye is a story of a great partnership. From the beginning, my husband, Rumi has been taking care of the products and design, while I am managing the business. We work together, and make decisions together," said Ashrafun Siddiqui Dora.
The journey of Cats Eye began in the form of a small shop in Green Super Market that sold almost everything from candies, fast food, ornaments to music. Rumi had a very good collection of music, so their shop had a corner for cassettes and recorder set.
In those days, the other stores around them were selling imported clothing, which was a big business then. Rumi and Dora thought to include clothing in their store too.
One fine day, the couple went to Dhaka's Islampur with Tk20,000 and bought some fabrics. They designed and made some shirts by themselves and put them in their store. The overwhelming response they received led them to sell clothes for men only.
Their store became popular very soon by enticing customers with cool, comfy and trendy designs. After that, they decided to take the decoration of the store to marketing to the next level.
Ashrafun Siddiqui Dora said, "We used powder milk containers to decorate our stores as the items we need was very expensive and rare in Dhaka at that time."
In 1983, they rented a floor in Mansur Bhaban on Elephant Road. That was the official inception of Cats Eye. Until 1993, there was a vacuum in the men's fashion market for the executives. Cats Eye introduced a new line of products under the new brand named Monsoon Rain, as a sister concern of Cats Eye.
In 1998, Cats Eye launched another brand Cats Eye Unlimited to satisfy the stylish men's casual wear segment. They also introduced ladies wear, shoes and silver jewellery in their product line. Every step they took added more value to their brand name.
"Cats Eye has always excelled at creating styles and designs that are global yet local. Our mission is to create a style statement that suits the discerning individual while keeping a stringent eye on quality and yet affordable," said Dora.
"We follow our own rules when it comes to fashion. We keep a balance between bold and simple. Rumi is very careful when choosing a specific colour or material for an occasion," she elaborates.
Dora juggles her roles between being an entrepreneur, a mother and a wife beautifully. With a big smile, she said, "When I became a mother my first priority was always my children. Even after managing the whole business alone, I can proudly say that I have never ignored a single responsibility for my children as a working woman."
Regarding her partner's role, Dora said, "Rumi is a great father, an excellent husband and a very good business partner. Each and every design of our brand still comes from his head. As he is the creative one, I never bothered him with business and marketing issues.
"I believe one of the parents needs to be strict. So in our family, I was the friendly one, and I pushed Rumi to be the strict one. I showed my children how much I respect my husband's decision that enabled my daughters to respect their father's decision too."
Now the family of Cats Eye has extended from Rumi and Dora to their four daughters. Their daughters Rummaella Siddiqui and Raffaella Siddiqui are now managing the company.
Sayeed Siddiqui Rumi is still the chairman of the brand, and Ashrafun Siddiqui Dora is the managing director. But according to Dora, "We have forwarded our dream and passion to the next generation and now it is up to them how to take it further."
She further said, "I am done with juggling three roles. My children have grown up now and are handling our business wonderfully. That makes me a happy grandmother. I am enjoying my time with my grandchildren."
Rummaella Siddiqui, director of Cats Eye, said, "We have seen how important this brand is for our parents. It was their dream and we grew up with it. Now as they handed us the responsibilities, we obviously feel a bit heavy on our shoulder."