What Level is Your Design Business?

Nina Parvaresh: Lessons Learned from Building a Global Interior Design Brand

Episode 956 of A Well-Designed Business®
956: Nina Parvaresh: Lessons Learned from Building a Global Interior Design Brand

Today With Nina Parvaresh:

Hi, welcome to a Well Designed Business. My guest today, Nina Parvaresh, founder and principal of Concept-Me, is the definition of a go-getter.  After training as an architect in Paris, Nina began her career at the age of 23 by jumping foot-first into a full-scale design project in the Middle East, working primarily in Saudi Arabia and Dubai.  Nina has faced many unique challenges, including working in a male-dominated space in a male-dominated part of the globe, taking on projects for powerful families in the Middle East, and navigating cultural differences as she worked in various parts of the world.  And yet, in many ways Nina struggles with the same things that many entrepreneurs do—trying to break away from the grind to focus on becoming the CEO.  Today, she’s here to talk about the unique aspects of global design work, the importance of knowing your clients and understanding the market, and how she hopes to grow her firm.

Pick It Apart:

[0:27] Nina shares her story of starting her firm in the Middle East and the challenges she faced along the way.

[06:55] Nina and LuAnn reflect on the importance of growth, learning, and evolution.

[13:46] Nina shares how she found herself facing such a large-scale project with no experience at the age of 23.

[17:36] Nina reflects on the mistakes she has made and the lessons she has learned.

[25:48] Nina and LuAnn discuss what it takes to lead a large team and how to free yourself up as the CEO.

LuAnn Nigara and Nina Parvaresh’s Ah-Ha Moments

“It’s a testament to tuning into your intuition and your gut instinct. So many times we say, don’t put a pen to paper until you get paid—and that’s usually right. But there’s a difference between going for it and taking a risk versus just laying down and doing something for free.” -LuAnn

“This is not a job you can do individually. You need to be able to count on people as the years go by, and you need to be able to surround yourself with experts that are better than you.” -Nina

More About Nina Parvaresh

As an only child, I come from a family of strong women. With Persian roots, I was born and raised in Paris where I became an architect by training and made that my entrepreneurial pursuit. As a third-culture kid, I got to live in different cities from New York to Istanbul. This has engrained a global sense of belonging in me and fed my creative process of gathering inspiration. When I touched down in Jeddah at age 23, I was ready to grab the bull by the horns! I was excited about the opportunities I saw in the market and was hungry to make the best of it. My first project at such a young age is still one of my most important ones because it set the stage for what I’ve done since. So, in short, I remember the young excitement, the hungry ambition, and most importantly, the look on my first client’s face when I laid out my plans for their house on a 14-seater dining table and recognized that the designs exceeded their expectation! Paris has always been home, but I also lived in New York and Istanbul, which is by far my favorite city! After that, I traveled a lot but was based in Jeddah and Dubai. I have always been drawn to cities that have soul, character and an element of chaotic order. Cities make their character through their architecture and their people. The reason I chose Dubai as my checkpoint right now is its great energy, its being a hub of so many global people and its cosmopolitan appeal. I tend to grasp the energy of different cities and I am drawn to the stories they tell. As a boutique scale firm, my vision for Concept Me was to handle projects in a very holistic manner that takes the project from A to Z. Whatever we do is always focused on creating a unique personality for any space. Creativity is at the core of what we do, being able to bring life and soul to high-end residential projects. However, we also have a mission to be ‘client-centric’. My aim is to have clients that trust us blindly, tell us what they want, and then get peace of mind until we hand over the project they had seen in their mind’s eye. We’ve made this possible at Concept Me with our multi-disciplinary team and their international talent. Essentially, I am juggling a bit too many roles at the moment, which is maybe natural in a boutique scale company environment. However, I am working on this, gradually! Primarily, however, one of the key elements of my role is client management. I take it upon me to understand my client’s mindstate, to reassure them, to direct their vision and to inform them of the rationale behind our design choices and how we can bring their space to life in the best way possible. The second key element is to be the final decision maker on all design choices. As part of a multi-disciplnary team, one that is driven by creative input, it can become challenging to keep all the creative choices from different people consistent, so that’s where I come in so we can have a final, polished, cohesive space instead of a pastiche. And finally, one of the hats I wear is the business development hat, whereby I keep signing deals while heading the design department!

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What Level is Your Design Business?