Sushmita Singh, She claims to be a perfectionist by taking life into one task at a time. Sushmita, 22, wanted to make a name for herself rather than being referred to as her father’s daughter – a generic expression for women in her hometown Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.
“A friend from my school pursued professional designing in Delhi. I first heard about professions in designing, but I was sure that I didn’t want to do a professional job of nine to five. So I found the area Decided to apply. I wanted to see what else happens in designing, “Sushmita told BK.
A graduate from the University of Allahabad in ancient history, philosophy and English literature, she did a diploma in interior design from South Delhi Polytechnic for Women in 1992. The designer-entrepreneur was never overwhelmed by the national capital and kept up with current trends by reading newspapers and books.
Sushmita says she did not look back in her first job after a few weeks. Nearly three decades later, she is now aware of everything in her profession and finds just as much joy and enthusiasm as she was making a new beginning.
As most designers aspire, Sushmita also knew that she would eventually start her own interior designing business. But before that, she had to learn the tricks of this business. In 1992, she began working at Mathodex Systems as a junior designer and successfully climbed the professional ladder.
She explains, “I wanted to learn the business and see how it worked with employees. More importantly, one needs to understand the minor details, and I want to learn the work and get it right. ”
Though Sushmita left no stone unturned in completing her tasks, she is thankful to work under the guidance of her boss Sangeeta Kataria, who was also the owner of the Clarius Hotel in Delhi.
At the age of 23, I learned a lot about managing businesses, and they encouraged me to do marketing. She advised that even though I play my role as a designer, I should know how to market my skills and services when I start on my own, ”says Sushmita.
In her joint role as a concept marketer and designer, Sushmita received onboard clients such as The Week and Deccan Herald. Office renovation projects attracted around Rs 8 lakh per office, which used to be a lot at the time.
These projects were designed in such a way that office space and furniture could be taken down and assembled. Sushmita says, “I had worked on this concept earlier too, gaining popularity as a ‘knockout design’ today.”
In 1994, after working on corporate projects for two years, Sushmita decided to switch jobs and joined Raheja Continental – a Delhi-based design firm that completed private dwellings and handled projects worth Rs 100 crore. For Sushmita, working for Raheja, Harsh Goenka, Vijay Mallya, And Birla Family Including designing business magnets’ residential locations.
Sushmita explains that at that time interior design was considered as a man’s job, but fortunately, she did not face gender discrimination at her workplace.
Sushmita spent most of her waking hours at work, and naturally, the people working with her became her friends. When she started her firm ALZ interiors in September 1996, most of the firm’s businesses came through her well-established network of friends. She takes a 25 percent advance from her client at the beginning of all her projects.
Starting with a zero investment, Sushmita has also managed to set up a manufacturing unit for furniture in Noida. Handling around eight to 10 projects costing crores a year, Sushmita caters to individual clients, as well as organizations including UNICEF, Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), Expo Mart, private schools and hospitals.
However, the entrepreneur closed her firm in 2011 and took a break to take care of her son’s education. However, she did not sit idle for long and kept busy teaching. She taught interior design at Pearl Academy in New Delhi for two years.
As more people approached her with designing projects, she started a new firm out of New Delhi called Sushmita Singh Designs.
Through her two firms, Sushmita has generated a revenue of Rs 10 crore every four to five years. However, the COVID-19 inspired lockdown has affected her business.
Exploiting the Indian interior design market, which is estimated to cost between $ 20 billion and $ 30 billion, Sushmita is currently handling three projects worth Rs 1 crore.
“At the end of the day, the fact that I can sleep at night, I have clients, vendors and workers working for 15 to 20 years, and I believe I have made a difference.”