Meera Pyarelal speaks about following her heart and earning a name in the furniture industry, a male bastion.
Everyone thought medicine would be the obvious career choice for Meera Pyarelal, the daughter of a Padma Shri award-winning surgeon; however, destiny had other plans for her. Armed with a Masters in English literature, she discovered her love for interiors while doing up her own apartment way back in 1999. She decided to give it a try and set up a small unit in her husband’s garage 20 years ago, giving wings to her creative side.
After two decades of earning a name for herself in the interiors industry, she conceived her own brand — Temple Town — with the aim of designing and manufacturing sophisticated pieces of colonial furniture. “The objective of the store is to preserve and promote traditional Indian designs and craftsmanship, which is slowly getting lost in the sands of time,” Meera begins, explaining that her furniture range is based on antiques, re-imagined and created for modern Indian living, all the while holding on to Kerala’s rich and colourful tradition of luxurious craftsmanship.
“Colonial furniture are the best creative collaboration between the east and the west and hence the only way to enjoy the best of both worlds. It is all about creating an heirloom which you can pass on to the next generations,” she says.
Made out of responsibly sourced and recycled Indian teak, you can customize from one single piece of furniture right up to an entire home or apartment ay her store.
Each business comes with its own set of unique challenges and Meera is not immune to road blocks. “Kerala is known for its excellence in wood work; however, finding and retaining skilled workers is a challenge since the workers find white collar jobs more alluring,” she specifies adding, “Being able to customise products to meet different customer needs while maintaining cost effectiveness is also a challenge.”
The increase in the number of women entrepreneurs storming male bastions is definitely a cause to celebrate, but the roads may not always be lined with rose petals. Meera says, “The initial difficulty I faced was in being taken seriously in a male-dominated environment. Hence I had to take my husband along to business meetings to appear more professional!” The winds of change are blowing, bringing with them good tidings as Meera elaborates, “Increased opportunities, exposure to the best education and technology and the growing realisation that women in positions of power and business make for good economic and social sense have led to the furniture industry being more open-minded than it was when I started out 20 years ago.”
Her advice to all those bright-eyed businesswomen wanting to take the dive into shark infested waters of entrepreneurship is, “Start small and keep moving forward one brick at a time. Follow your dreams with unstinted belief in yourself.”
When Meera takes a break from work, she would either be travelling, reading eating out or checking out the latest fashion trends. Travelling takes priority what with her being an avid globetrotter. London is her all-time favourite destination and she explains why, “I love the way the old and the new coexist beautifully in London like, for example, how Westminster Abbey coexists with the London Eye. London is a melting pot of so many different cultures and people and yet it holds on to its traditions. I especially love the beautiful art museums and architecture, the acres of greenery at Hyde park, the cathedrals, palaces, luxurious shopping arcades and the wide variety of cuisine from all over the world.”
Meera shares her mantra, courtesy The Alchemist, before signing off, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”