George Eliot said,
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
In our today’s #MondayMotivation blog focusing on the #WonderWomen segment, we’re proud to present someone who, with her artistic touch, is spreading her wings; but unlike most, she found her creative calling, after her personal and family life was all in a good place. Meet, Interior Designer, Anu Kewalram, who believes in the power of beautiful interiors to transform daily life. How did she find this calling of hers and what made her decide to go into it as a professional rather than just taking it as a hobby? Let’s find out in her own words.
“My name is Anu Kewalram and I am an Interior Designer. I believe in the power of beautiful interiors to transform daily life which is why I strive to design unique interiors that are crisp, with a timeless style and designs that remain fresh year after year. I believe that every home should have a beautiful story to tell. I have cultivated a design philosophy focused on attention to detail while blending the client’s personal style with my design visions which are; elegance, ease, sophistication and warmth.
My aesthetic is classic with a twist, and timeless with a hint of edge. I was born and raised in Singapore and am the wife of a wonderful man and the mother of three beautiful children. As a young bride and mother; and a woman who was married into a large family in the Middle East, my life revolved around the day to day affairs of the household and the upbringing of my children. In 1997 I moved to Dubai with my husband and children. They were still very young, and I hardly had time for myself.
The house that we moved into was a four-bedroom apartment and I spent months working on its design and interiors. It was then that I realized how passionate I was about interior designing.
I did not have any formal education in this field, but I would read about designers and their work. A few years later we moved into a villa and once again I started to design each room with a handful of rough sketches and notes. At this point of time I also got an opportunity to design homes for some of my friends and relatives. It could be a room, or a kitchen or an entire house; whatever it was, I worked on it with great passion and love. However, I never asked for any fees as I didn’t think it was right thing to do since I wasn’t a certified interior designer.
I was celebrating my 50th birthday and my husband and children surprised me with a party on a yacht. I was proud of my children and their achievements and every morning when they all left for work, I would go back to the housework.There was a dull and kind of comfortable routine to my life. But this made me realize I had done nothing for my own self. I began to realize that I had to follow my dreams and somehow turn my life around. That’s when I signed up for an interior decorators’ course at an institute nearby and after 35 years of my life I was back in a classroom. One year later I received an award for the Best Design for a home and then there was no looking back.
I enrolled myself into a university for a diploma course in interior design which was internationally recognized and an equivalent to an American degree. This was when the real struggle started; juggling between home, family, social commitments, my 85-year-old mother who was staying with me and my studies. That’s when my life became a constant struggle. The lessons got harder and harder, and it was me against a class full of much younger women. They were quick on their laptops and confident with the use of different software. I had to work harder to catch up with them. As we approached the completion of our first module, we were told we had to do a presentation of our project after the written examination was a nervous wreck that day. I still remember that day and how I spoke. I told myself Anu you have to do this; you have to prove your worth. That day I walked away with the Best Residential Project Award…The software programs were my greatest struggles because my basic computing skills were poor to start with so it felt like I was trying to understand the basics as well as the complicated programs all at once. I worked late through the nights. Creating 3D visuals and AutoCAD was like learning another language. There was so much to learn. As we were approaching our final examinations something happened that changed a lot of things for me. I was approached by a friend to do her apartment. A few days later a relative approached me for help. I thought about declining the offer but then I also saw this a turning point, a true test on how to work under pressure and deadlines. An internship that could build my confidence up to face real clients and bigger projects in the future. Again, I did not charge any design fees and proceeded to work on their homes. I was physically and mentally exhausted at that point in time but as Barack Obama once said, “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
So almost 3 years and 6 modules later graduated with a distinction. I was not just a housewife anymore. I became an Interior Designer and also completed the two apartments I had started work on and built my contacts with contractors, painters, soft furnishing specialists and so on. Less than a month later I received an email from the International furniture Store Ikea to work with the design team for the store. I went through the interviews and rejected the offer at the end because I couldn’t see myself in a 9 to 5 job at this age.
Soon after that I got an opportunity to do the interior design of a large 5-bedroom house. I made my first contract and prepared my first quotation. I realized that it was each house that motivated me. The way the light streamed in through the windows, the feel of the walls, the patterns on the tiles and the heights of the ceilings. Every space would inspire me to create my own little magic around it because every home had its own story to tell.I registered with the Dubai Economy Department as an Interior Designer and named my company AnuKewalram Interiors. I recently hired a professional photographer to do a shoot of the completed project. I have hired an intern to work with me as the number of projects keeps increasing. Lately I have had an opportunity to do a kids’ room and it’s been quite an experience. Because the little ones are the hardest clients to please!I have come a long way and its difficult to talk about what I’ve learnt because it has been a continuous journey of knowledge, of experiences, of overcoming fear, of being grateful, of hard work, of tapping the hidden talents that lie deep within, of challenges and majorly of discoveries.
Every step along the way has been a new lesson to me. Whether it is by being an inspiration to women who think that it’s too late to start a career path; or by being someone who created beautiful homes that changed the way people lived, I hope to be remembered as someone that made a difference in this world. I believe that we are who we choose to be. Nobody is going to come and save you. You have got to save yourself. Nobody is going to give you anything. You have got to go out and fight for it. Nobody knows what you want except you and nobody will be as sorry as you if you don’t get it, so don’t give up on your dreams. The things you are passionate about are not random. They are your calling.
Future plans? Well, so far every step along the way, I had created goals for myself:
- Graduate with distinction and awards
- Clients and contracts ( at least 2 by the end of the year )
- Form a licensed company
- Growth on Instagram & Facebook
So, the future is also a step-by-step plan which includes:
- Continue to grow on social media (hope to get at least 10k followers)
- Design a website
- Hire 2 persons to work with me as a team
- Complete 10 projects this year
- Start planning on my own brand of accessories for the home
As for beyond that, we’ll see how these go and decide on the basis of that!”
To drop in a message to Anu, look at her completed (and amazing) interior design assignments or to inquire and take her on for doing your own home or office spaces, follow the links below: