The Wealthy Fox™ had the pleasure of interviewing Piroska Warren (31), a talented Interior Designer specialising in exhibition, retail and corporate space.
TWF: Piroska, what was your childhood dream to become and why?
PW: Lol, I was going to be a nurse! I loved treating all my “patients” and bandaging them up with plasters when I was little.
TWF: What did you study?
PW: BA Interior Design at Design Centre Greenside and a Certificate in Event, Conference & Exhibition Management at Damelin.
TWF: Who inspired you to become an interior designer?
PW: Probably my parents. My mother is a DTP/graphic designer and my late father was in civil engineering and interested in architecture and history. I guess I blended the two by doing interior design.
TWF: What do you design?
PW: My main focus is on exhibition stands (custom and system) and on retail and corporate spaces. My real love is custom exhibition stand designs. I love how it’s all about functionality and creating the wow factor while still considering budgets and clients’ stand requirements. Exhibitions are really fast-paced, exciting and rewarding, but sometimes you don’t even get to see the end product because they are only up for a few days! Retail has more longevity. Like exhibitions, you have to consider the human psyche and how the mind works in such a space to create a functional, inviting environment that people want to visit – both require creative and analytical thinking!
TWF: Did you have a mentor as you developed your skill as a designer?
PW: My mom was one, especially while I studied and worked at the company she was at. She taught me the many principles and guides for good layout, work etiquette and how you should do everything to your best ability and properly. Another influential person was my swimming coach in primary school. I will never forget the lesson she taught me - always finish what you start, no matter what! Finally, my old boss Ruth was also influential in that she was a great business woman, she was very insightful and so well read – she was a wealth of knowledge and always had time and patience for all.
TWF: What do you love the most about your time working in the design environment?
PW: I love the look on a happy client’s face when they see the concept and then the realisation of it. I love solving and overcoming the challenges faced, especially during builds, and overcoming these, relieving clients’ stress and the creative conceptualisation process – coming up with the big idea!
TWF: When did the Entrepreneurial bug bite?
PW: It first bit in 2006 when I left a company because of how I felt they were exploiting people and their hard work. Their values and morals were no longer sitting in line with mine. I went on my own for a bit, but realised I still had a lot to learn and needed to expand my network. So, thanks to a friend, I managed to get a job at a great agency! I worked there for a while and then in 2008 when my father suddenly passed away I realized it was time to take over my life and my time to do the things that are important to me. I wanted to create the flexibility to see the people I love most, to do what I love and to push myself instead of being dictated to and living in a repetitive spin cycle with everyone else in control of my life and my time. Iain, my hubby, also greatly influenced this decision and having him by my side has given me the opportunity to push through the really tough times!
TWF: Looking back at your career, are there any life defining moments that stick out for you?
PW: Definitely, when you start valuing yourself and the qualities you have, you make decisions very differently to when you “are selling your soul for work”. When you notice the company/person you work for does not share the same values or sentiments as you, it’s time to reassess.
TWF: If you had to name the one factor behind your success, what would that be?
TWF: To date what has been your greatest achievement in your career?
PW: My business! The fact that I have been in business for 6 years and that I am now in a position to start growing and have the ability to possibly empower other people.
TWF: What does a day in a life of Piroska look like?
PW: Busy! Lol… wake up and greet my hubby and gorgeous puppies first! Then it’s getting ready and getting started on the tasks set for that day, could be meetings, deadlines for designs, sourcing samples, finding new clients, sourcing and researching new materials, etc… That generally fills most of my day. I try to squeeze in a gym session when I can! Monday & Wednesday evenings are spent at netball – my sanity! The other evenings are spent cooking, spending time with hubby and friends, etc.
TWF: What are the most challenging aspects of your life right now?
PW: Time! Finding the right people to assist and delegate to, cash flow!
TWF: Research has shown that women often get promoted based on their past achievement, whereas men get promoted on their potential. What is your view on this?
PW: I think this depends on the industry you are in, but I can see how it does happen that way in many work places. It’s like women have to prove their worth first.
TWF: What do women need to focus on to get to their dream faster?
PW: Action, talking about it doesn’t get you there!
TWF: What is the one goal that you have set yourself for the year that you would like to achieve and make this your best year ever?
PW: To delegate and start growing my business
TWF: Do you think the role of women in business is a true reflection of their potential?
PW: Not always. Many women do not value themselves or what they have to offer. Some industries are still sadly male dominated and it takes a very tough skin to break through and for them to take a woman seriously.
TWF: Where do you see the biggest skills shortage when it comes to women in your industry?
PW: Probably the technical side – on how things are actually built and how they work. These tend to be learnt while on site or by people telling or teaching you when they can.
TWF: What do you believe are the qualities of feminine leadership?
PW: Understanding and patience
TWF: What do you think of The Wealthy Fox community and its mission to inspire and empower women to grow their businesses and advance their careers to achieve holistic wealth?
PW: I think it is a wonderful concept that definitely has value. It is an ideal platform for women to learn from each other, inspire and create synergy between businesses and people that can mutually benefit each other!
I hope that the Wealthy Fox can change many women’s lives and create a wave of entrepreneurial women who can grow South Africa.
TWF: What is your empowering message to the women of The Wealthy Fox community?
PW: Never give up – finishing all that you set out to do, follow that dream and don’t become complaisant…
TWF: If you were a wild animal, what would you choose to be and why?
PW: Tough question! Hmmmm, probably an elephant. Like elephants I too am very socially and family orientated. Elephants are caring, gentle and intelligent but can become very aggressive when threatened or provoked!
TWF: If you were a domestic animal, which one would you be and why?
PW: A dog! Loyal, energetic and a general love for life! And being able to laze around in the sun all day =)
TWF: Favourite artist?
PW: MC Escher
TWF: Favourite food?
TWF: Favourite drink?
PW: Red wine
TWF: Favourite car?
TWF: Favourite fashion brand?
PW: Puma, Adidas, Guess, Mango, love to have Ralph Lauren, Chanel, D&G
TWF: What are your hobbies and interests?
PW: Action netball and sport in general, scuba diving, travelling – LOVE, architecture, photography, reading, drawing and painting when I get some time, cooking, and seeing friends and family.
TWF: If you were to win the lotto for R50million, how different would your life be? Would you still do design?
PW: Wow, I guess it would be quite different! I think I would continue my business – that would definitely provide a much-needed boost! I’d invest a lot into this business to get it to run itself, donate to wildlife conservation (and probably get more involved in that too), give to my family to help kick start their dreams, travel and possibly even start up other businesses that I have an interest in! I would never completely stop working, but that money could sure give me some breathing space to stop and smell the roses more often!