George and Denise Hage have been selling Italian shoes in Bellevue since 2011, but their story begins long before. 27 years ago, George was living in Dubai with his wife and sister who complained about the lack of good shoes available to them. George, who worked in insurance at the time, took this need to create opportunity for his family: he opened a shoe store in what was the only mall in Dubai at that time. However, times were hard; the gulf war severely effected his business. He didn’t let that stop him, though, as he went on to open 6 stores in 6 different malls as the city grew and prospered after the war.
In 2010, the couple got great news: their requested U.S. visas were approved. They sold their businesses and moved on Christmas Day with their two teenage children to Bellevue, where George’s sister had been living for the last 25 years.
For many, moving to a new country can be daunting. But George and Denise’s success in Dubai created opportunity here in the Seattle area; upon receiving their visa, they immediately came to Bellevue to speak with the Bellevue Square Mall and bring their business here. The couple secured a space for their enterprise before they had officially moved to the country, and opened DOMINO in April of 2011.
Why Italian shoes? “They are the best,” says George. “I love to be busy, I love fashion, I love a challenge.” Most of the shoes DOMINO sells are handmade, good quality, and from expert manufacturers who have been in business for centuries. DOMINO prides itself in being the only all-Italian shoe store in the Pacific Northwest, with a good price range and high-end brands.
The lessons George shares of being a business owner and entrepreneur cross cultures and continents: “I meet people all day from different backgrounds. I’m always learning something new. When I was young I thought I knew everything. I was wrong.” George shares that he’s become a tougher person, able to face challenges wisely and think deeper. Most of all, he shares a sentiment that most business owners can empathize with: sometimes you just “feel down” when facing tough decisions. But he’s learned to take 2-3 days to think about the problem, then take action rather than agonize about it. After, he says that the best part “is knowing that your decision was correct.”
Domino has a prime location is one of the toughest malls in the area to open a storefront. But George and Denise hope to do more: maybe a moving to a larger space in Bellevue Square, or opening a second location in another prestigious shopping center. Regardless, George is proud to be a small business owner in the US and looks forward to continued growth and success.
Be sure to check out their newest inventory in-person at 2042 Bellevue Square in Bellevue, WA, in the Southwest corner of the mall beside Ann Taylor & across from Talbot’s & J.Crew, online at dominoshoes.com, on Facebook, or through the Bellevue Square website.