In a plush studio located in the heart of the world’s cash richest city – Ludhiana, sits Dolly Sidana’s studio. A warm setting with world class furnishings and interior themes laid out in the most aesthetic fashion; her studio is almost like a classy home. While listening to some of the best Jazz hits, one can stroll from a living room, to bedrooms with different themes, into an British styled kitchen and then onto a study room – all of which displays her uniquely crafted pieces, from table lamps to art pieces to chairs to carpets to beds and couches, for various themes such as Gothic, Classical, Contemporary, Countrystyle etc. – all under one roof made by her brand the Carpenters Home. To an interior enthusiast this studio is heaven and to one who has no idea about interiors it serves ample creative energy to inspire them to become an enthusiast. Sitting in her plush studio, Dolly Sidana – India’s leading interior designer and her architect husband Mandeep Sidana specialize in delivering countrystyle (international) turnkey projects to some of India’s biggest industrialists and restaurateurs, living across the country.
But how did this come to be, one wonders. “My husband and I had a love marriage. We had very little finances and felt rather reluctant in asking our parents, who perhaps were very weary of what we both could make of ourselves. We started our business with just 35,000 Rupees. That’s all we had. Today our turnover runs in crores. But it wasn’t easy, I can tell you that” says Dolly Sidana.
When you ask Dolly why it wasn’t it easy she says, “Things today are very different from when I started my business 23 years back. One often had to struggle between being judged and labelled. No matter how much my husband was supportive of me, the other members of the family definitely opposed it for quite a few years. They couldn’t understand the vision, couldn’t understand the designs and it was a constant discouragement. Also having very limited resources at that time, times were challenging and we gambled our way through trying to reinvest every little thing of what we were earning. It’s like when you put in your best with the intention to just serve, all the cooperative components of the universe gather together to assist you.”
So does that mean that for women it is difficult to make it in business?
“If a woman is strong willed, she can achieve anything that she sets her mind on. And in my line of work, people are more accepting of a woman interior designer. In fact, being a woman actually has an edge to being a designer. As being a homemaker at heart, women try including functionality to design, making it more diversified and fluid. In fact nowadays, it’s been proved in many ways that women owned companies actually run more seamlessly and the decision making becomes very strong and efficient. Very few people in Punjab let alone Ludhiana had any idea of what ‘interiors’ were 23 years back. The women around me, be they young girls from my family or in the neighbourhood, thought of me as a role model. It encouraged me to think how women, when they see real life examples of working women consider them ‘aspirational’. It gave me all the more reason to make something of myself so that these young girls could also consider careers along with marriage as a life goal. And I certainly wanted my daughter and son to have this example at home through me.”
Dolly and Mandeep Sidana will soon be starting a studio in Delhi, with a amplified magnitude than what they have in Ludhiana. Their love for Ludhiana is astute, but their aspirations are truly encouraging.
“Most of our business comes from repeat clients, who’ve been with us since several years with a 30% growth in new business year on year end. This gave me the belief that there are still mountains we could climb together. Our children are doing well in school, we have established a strong base for ourselves in our beloved city of Ludhiana, so why not go to the heart of North India now ?” says Mandeep Sidana.
“I want my daughter and son to say proudly that their mother is a successful entrepreneur and their father is a success architect fulfilling people’s dreams through cocreating beautiful homes for them. It’s extremely important for women, particularly to build a career. That’s the best example of a role model in the family. My kids will emulate my wife more, and what i want for them is to emulate her values and success in business,” he adds.
This women’s day as Dolly Sidana revels in her success thus far and plans with her husband and architect business partner Mandeep Sidana to further their plans, we asked them why wouldn’t they just relax and enjoy the fruits of their labour. To this they both were quick to quote Iqbal, “Sitaaron se aage jahaan aur bhi hain, abhi ishq ke imtihaan aur bhi hain”