Sara Blakley says,
“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”
In our #FridayFeature blog focusing on the #WonderWomen segment, today we present a woman who just like the quote above says, doesn’t fear the new or the unknown and isn’t afraid to change or adapt as per the changing times. Meet, Lakshmi Narasimhan, who is an Architect (Principal Architect at Aarabhi Design Build and MindMaps Architecture and Interiors Pvt LTD), Entrepreneur (Co – founder of SAHAA The crafters and Cafe Socialize) and a trained Bharat Natyam dancer. How did she get into so many varied creative fields and how does she manage time in between these professions along with her personal life? Let’s find out in her own words.
“Architecture is my main profession and I have been practising since 1998. We (at Aarabhi Design Build and MindMaps Architecture and Interiors Pvt LTD) have always been inclined towards vernacular architecture which also got us to incorporate antiques in our building designs. During our journeys while looking for antiques, we were introduced to a lot of local weaves and textiles. This inspired us into starting a venture SAHAA-THE CRAFTERS, in which we make handcrafted and largely handloomed apparel and jewellery. We also source antique home decor as a part of the Sahaa venture.
While we (the team of Aarabhi Design Build, MindMaps Architecture and Interiors Pvt LTD and venture SAHAA-THE CRAFTERS), are currently comfortable in our chosen field of profession, which is Design and Build, the initial struggles started as soon as I came out of college. An early pregnancy, which when I lookback at now , came as a boon because now I am able to do a lot more that the kids are grown up and I have a lot of time on hand to focus on work; which as new mother I wouldn’t have been able to do. But it was all not hunky dory then either!
I started out of a small garage in my parents’ house and moved eventually into bigger spaces. Now we are currently housed in a space where we practice Architecture, house the showroom for Sahaa and also have a CAFE SOCIALIZE attached to it!
While our core strength has always been Design, there were and are still struggles of not understanding completely, the technicalities of our new venture because of the vastness and richness of the same. Every day comes a new learning for us.
As for any start up, financial aid is a challenge and we are no different.
There have been several turning points in a career spanning 20 years. The first turning point was when I met my partner S K Ravindra in 2006! Traveling, setting up of new spaces, a partnership lasting for 14 years; there have been several blessings.
As an architect, my first recognition came when our work was featured on the front page of a leading newspaper. From meeting and gaining appreciation from actress Keerthy Suresh, to being told that people wait for our exhibitions in Singapore, the journey has been humbling.
The recognition and appreciation we got and continue to get in Singapore has been a major turning point for us as far as SAHAA is concerned.
Dance has taught me discipline and also the importance of prayer. It has taught me to win over disappointments and to rejoice at success! It has kept me grounded in a way that only true artists can experience. So, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that being a dancer motivates me to give my best!
Being an entrepreneur, the main challenge is to keep oneself self-motivated.
There have been struggles more in this than with anything else!! Great passion towards work that I love doing, my employees, the thought of doing something new every day, keeps me motivated! Designing has always given me a high and thankfully I don’t need other spirits.
Supported by a great team back at office, we look forward to a bright future where we can work with many professionals in various fields. We would like to work with weaver clusters for textiles, use new materials for design and building and make conscious decisions on the end products, keeping in mind the idea of sustainability and responsibility towards this planet.
There are a few things that I can list under my professional and personal life learnings.
The biggest one being that,
“You are here as long as you learn to change with time. Your ideas, your method of working, your perspective, all must change with the times.”
But also remember to,
“Keep the goals in sight but be ready to change the methods you adopt for the same.”
Never the one to undermine team efforts, I have learned that,
“If you keep your team motivated and happy you can achieve great things in a shorter span of time. And while doing this, you can enjoy it as well! Keep your employees safe and happy. Make them your primary concern.”
Regarding managing the finances, I have realized that,
“While it’s easy to get carried away by creativity, its necessary to keep a tab on what you spend and keep your (finance) books healthy. It will take you a long way. Financial health is extremely important and builds trust in the brand.”
We have been featured in several leading newspapers for our architectural work and have worked with many credible, responsible and popular bloggers and have participated in many large and small exhibitions just in a span of 2 years! We were able to get back 60 percent of investment in such a short span which is itself a proof of the success of our ventures. The reviews of our customers and clients has been our biggest awards so far!
The plan is to continue moving in this direction with eyes and mind, both open.
To drop in a message to Lakshmi, check out or inquire about her services and products through her three entrepreneurial ventures, or to know more about/visit her café, follow the links below:
- Sahaa The Crafters website
- Aarabhi Architects website
- MindMaps Architects website
- Sahaa The Crafters Facebook page
- Sahaa The Crafters Instagram page
- Aarabhi Architects Facebook page
- Aarabhi and MindMaps Instagram page
- Cafe Socialize Instagram page
- MinMaps Architects Facebook Page
Other professional and personal social media handles of Lakhsmi:
The work of Aarabhi Design Build and MindMaps Architecture and Interiors Pvt LTD has been featured in multiple newspaper articles. You can have a glimpse at these features below:
- Natural Lighting with Seamless Spaces
- Old-world Charm in Contemporary Setting
- Bright Interiors with Natural Light