Interview with Payal Kapoor

Interview with Payal Kapoor An Avid Dreamer and Designer Envisioning Heavenly Spaces!

Interior Design WOMEN INTERVIEWS

How did you come to be an entrepreneur?

I come from a “middle-class Fauji” background, my father was a senior officer in the Indian Navy and parent to 3 daughters, while my mother was “settled” to raise us happily. I got married to a qualified man from the corporate sector holding a leading position at Tata Group.

After completing my graduation in 1987, I was chosen by Manasara’s Executive Director, and from there, I bagged an opportunity from the promoters of ‘Dream City’ as the senior advisor of their design firm named “Craftsmen”.

It was a breakthrough for me to learn about grassroots levels of craftsmanship, labor, and budget execution. The company worked on a turnkey basis, and I thought that my potential and creativity as an interior designer were violated here despite putting complete energy into it. That was when I decided to launch my own company in 1991 under the banner “Visions.”

As a creative and passionate interior designer by profession, I happen to design an innovative experience for big clients and spaces. With my difficulties and challenges, I dared to dream and chase my ambitions to bring out the best. I was always drawn to the world of design and architecture, which led to the glorious journey at Visions, where I headed on my entrepreneurial journey.

How is it different from other companies?

At “Visions,” We are a team of creative designing enthusiasts who believe in the clarity of products and concepts. We strive towards offering low-maintenance and sustainable architectural solutions to our esteemed clients considering environmental and comfortable spacing.

For instance, we believe in occupying glasses for outdoor windows to attract more natural light. Perhaps there’s no standardization of designs, as it might not work for places with hot climates as glass absorbs heat. We refine designs and curate interiors that are subjective to client choices, budget, climate, and location. Their suggestions and insights about their dream spaces nurture our innovative concepts and execution wonders for everyone!

Keeping the budget aspect in mind, we work with cheaper materials without compromising on quality and design experience. Our company retains transparency and briefs timelines, budgets, and designs to the customers in detail to retain our aesthetic credibility.

Throw some light on your business and its offerings.

After over three decades of experience leading an illustrious journey of remarkable projects like VIP homes, chairman offices, luxury villas, and heritage hotels, I have a decent snippet of work to display. The premium project includes the Palace of Wheels, which bestows my contribution to the legacy of Indian culture.

After completing my graduation in design, I was fortunate enough to revamping the epic Umaid Bhavan Palace from 1990-2004. All public areas suites and rooms of their Highnesses were also converted to luxury suites under my guidance. I was also honored to contribute to refurbishing some parts of Rashtrapati Bhavan while working with the ‘Manasara’ group. My company and I always focus on restoring the glorious past of historic sites while adorning them with personal additions to amplify their beauty.

We at “Visions” have worked on myriad projects, including heritage properties, trendy hotels, hospitals, shopping complexes, houses, planes, bars, malls, and even nightclubs. As consultants, we work on various architectural projects of all sizes and scales.

Our company comprises trustworthy practitioners who work hard for consistent personal and professional growth. We are setting new trends and working as the front-runners to create new history!

Payal Kapoor, VisionsPayal Kapoor portfolioVisionsPayal KapoorPayal Kapoor, VisionsVisions

How challenging is it for a woman to start/ or associate with any company?

My journey as a woman entrepreneur has always amazed me too as how I managed to shatter the glass ceiling and break away the mold. Creating a space for myself in the industry as a woman was a journey fuelled by attributes like honesty, fearlessness, and fierce attitude followed by some imperfections and flaws. I own all of them!

When I started back in 1991, there were many mental barriers to women taking a frontier in business entities. But I was brought up in a very independent background, making me believe in myself and my skills. The design industry in itself posed many challenges as there was no godmother or godfather for me with a design background. Most of the sources I have belong to services, medicine, engineering, and the corporate sector.

I transformed challenges into opportunities by working as a lone entrepreneur and fighting back the apprehensions relevant to the male-dominated profession. A lot of traveling, payment issues with clients, and undergoing criticism at an early age for some losses were challenges that I found demoralizing but I never gave up!

Have you faced any unusual situations doing business in India as a female entrepreneur?

When I started up my business journey with “Visions,” there were instances where I had to deal with unprofessional clients with weird mindsets towards females. Lags in payments and bad experiences with their reactions often hampered my line of work.

I nurtured my own wings since a very young age and did justice to every opportunity that came my way. In fact, I was also taunted for being ambitious but it has rather driven me to excel and keep going with my goals. While the lioness walks fiercely, the wolves howl and I let them howl always! That doesn’t bother me.

My interpersonal skills and determination made me stay patient and robust under all circumstances. I consider it instead a blessing in disguise as such situations strengthened my determination, and I was able to handle my situation professionally and in a better manner. With ever-growing competition in all sectors, women need constant self-analysis and adaptability to changing trends to stay ahead in the race!

How do you achieve work-life balance?

I feel as women, we are unbeatable at balancing work and life priorities. We can multitask better in comparison to our male counterparts, whether it’s responding to multiple mails, whatsapp groups or tweets. Delegating tasks and managing responsibilities is a crux to achieve the work-life balance.

As a human, even I have had my weak times when I weeped, sulked, screamed, or even willowed in pity. My lost projects aggravated the mood swings that were tough to handle for my friends and family. But, I believed my only competition was ‘ME’; so just hold my crown up back and grabbed the skies full of opportunities.

For me, fame, respect, and recognition are just the by-product of my work and skills. I have marked success in this industry with the constant support and upliftment of my husband and family. With a lot of traveling and time management, I was able to grow professionally while trying to keep harmony with my personal life as well. Money is always the drooling factor for business, but hard work and honesty are something I have always treasured in life.

I never skip my “me” time, wherein I like to spend time in the lap of nature or with beloved pets, conceiving my own thoughts. Gazing along the lake and hills and spending hours in nature, fresh air, pristine mountains, or flowers with a cup of tea is something I cherish. I love to be with my family in my free time and listen to soothing music to rejuvenate myself with the spa. Keeping both work and life at par enables me to hit the equilibrium!

Did you have a mentor to guide you through your professional journey?

While there’s no specific mentor in my professional journey, there are inspiring characters whom I look up to as ideal leaders. Such humans imbibe humility despite the endless luxuries, money, and fame they have in life. Giving back to society is the right approach for a successful leader, I believe.

Define a perfect business leader. What are the qualities you think a great leader possesses?

I look up to Maharaja Gaj Singhji, Maharani Sahiba, and their late Uncle Thakur Raju Singhji from Jodhpur’s Royal family, who didn’t have a design background. Besides, the conduct of Mr. Ratan Tata has always inspired me in my professional career.

I believe that a good business leader must break the conventional monogamy and revive innovation with individual thought processes. Being enthusiastic, passionate, and believing in the team’s capabilities and channeling them in the right direction retains the fame of a successful business leader.

What is the road map of your organization?

The “Visions” group thrives on designing well-ventilated structures, nurturing every aspect of landscape and grandeur of construction in its architecture. We consider professionalism, transparency, and 100% consumer satisfaction to be the prima facia in our organization at all stages of projects. While working as a coordinated team of experts, we have completed over 500+ ventures in leisure, housing, institutes, lounges, spas, trains, and restaurants globally.

Commitment to the client budget, with the Total Quality Management (TQM) program, forces us to seek the ISO status soon, adding more affirmation to our quality. Even after successfully completing over 800 projects till date, I feel there’s a lot yet to explore. Some of our masterpieces includes:

  • Heritage Trains like Palace on Wheels
  • Luxury Ship like Mint Casino
  • Aircraft simulator for Boeing, airbus or Dreamliners
  • President of India’s Building

And a lot more.

What advice would you give to other businesswomen who want to thrive in a male-dominated industry?

I always advise every woman seeking a business role to fight like a lioness and grab their throne even if the situations don’t favor you. Live your dreams, no matter what it takes, and have the courage to tackle bad days all on your own. Stay humble and grounded as that’s what I have always learned in my upbringing in a middle-class family.

Working women must keep their heads high while trying to embrace the art of balancing work and life together. Though management is essential to keep things organized, it is viable to delegate tasks on both fronts to optimize their potential. Believe in ‘Karma’ as what you give will surely come back to you. Be kind and never demean your counterparts to keep your conscience clean.

Thriving in a male-dominated industry is possible when women set their standards high and stay self-motivated by retaining trust in what they do. Fetch some time to enjoy with friends, laugh, and never compromise on your dignity or self-respect. Above all, celebrate yourself and stay fierce, yet content and happy.

Describe the most memorable incident of your professional life.

Without a thought, it’s “Palace on Wheels,” the most luxurious project and a turning point of my career. I contested top designers from all over the country and successfully completed it by beating the Royal Scotsman train and seeking the No.1 position for the ‘Palace on Wheels.’

How would you like people to remember you and your company?

I always want my clients and people to remember “Visions” and me as a ‘FREE BIRD’ who believes in putting soul and heart into every project we undertake. I never wanted to get typecast in any sort of work, and I like taking up projects that are challenging and edgy. We have completed decades of success after overpowering the hurdles, and we endure the much-deserved recognition as an individual and for my company!

What is your favorite metaphor for describing entrepreneurship?

‘Innovation in Ideas’ is the metaphor that defines entrepreneurship for me.

 

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