REVATHI RAO GURRAM
BREAKING BARRIERS AND EMPOWERING WOMEN TO LEAD AND SUCCEED
Business Connect is a platform renowned for its impeccable editions and inspirational stories. Here again, we are back with our exclusive edition of the month entirely dedicated to women who are setting new standards in the business world. In the same context, our editorial team had an interesting and joyful virtual session with the leadership panel of Stories Design Studio. The Founder & Design Principal of the company, Ms. Revathi Rao Gurram, shared numerous lesser-known facts about the company and also shed some light on her overall entrepreneurial journey so far.
My venture into business was predestined. I grew up watching my grandfathers and father establish strong bases, and leave legacies in their own rights. This inspired me to pave my own business path, but the lessons I learned just watching them have been invaluable and guide me even today. I found my niche by combining these business lessons with what I loved doing the most – traveling, and encountering architectural wonders.
The last few years have been a combination of early-morning site visits, late-night meetings at the studio, and days spent ideating with my valuable team members. This schedule requires me to be just as comfortable in sturdy shoes, as I am in high heels. Multi-tasking has become a way of life, what with juggling my business with my family, which includes a young human watching my every move.
EDGE IN THE REALM
The industry I work in is very dynamic in nature. While it is important to understand design trends and the ever-changing resources, it is equally important to understand the client’s needs and align them both. I remember reading about the 4 R’s to steady oneself when on a tempestuous course – Respect, Relevance, Resilience, and Responsiveness. These have been guiding lights in operating on a regular basis to ensure the work delivered by my company is compatible with the client’s needs, while never compromising on quality and efficacy.
Having established these guiding pillars, my company also prides itself on its versatility. We have designed homes as small as 400 square feet, where the requirements weren’t as restricted as the space was, as well as a home as big as 18,000 square feet with lots of room, both literally as well as for experimentation. No matter the size and budget for a project, the passion and precision that my company brings in are the same.
My personal goal is to ensure every space is designed with a story to tell, and I have often found the ability to do that at home. These are walls that bring families together. We understand every individual and their preferences, as well as what suits the entire family unit and design these spaces keeping both the individual as well as the collective unit in mind. Over the last few years, we have worked on ensuring our work speaks for itself, and look forward to exceeding the client’s expectations every step of the way.
SCALING THE SUCCESS METER
While homes remain close to my heart, we are always looking to write new ‘Stories’. These enable us to express our creativity and evolve our ideas into spaces that speak volumes. We have worked on private homes, commercial spaces, retail spaces, hospitality venues, clinics, farmhouses, and even tree houses, because spaces to play are integral to every childhood story, and can be more than meets the eye.
We have also worked on the set production of an Indo-Australian movie and ventured into art direction. We take the extra step to ensure spaces meet our and the client’s ideas by creating bespoke furniture, artifacts, wall art, carpets, and rugs. Our ability to go the extra mile, combined with our tried and tested business practices, has enabled us to work with clients across the world.
We have also established a great working relationship with multiple national and international brands, so our clients always enjoy the privilege of choice. Our ability to deliver on schedule, as well as what was promised, ensures our clients are happy and fall in love with the spaces that go on to become integral parts of their lives. While we have strong bonds with our existing brands, we constantly need to upskill in a field like design.
Due to developments in different parts of the world, it is our responsibility to be aware of newer and better materials from across the world that could help us shape a space more efficiently. When clients come to us with a requirement, we ensure to communicate the evolution of the processes and the materials that may be available since they may have previously understood. We are constantly on the lookout for new materials, new finishes, innovative textures, and different ways of combining the client’s needs with the best available material.
This also requires us to upskill technologically. Due to this, we have established a great rapport with vendors and suppliers from across the globe, so new material reaches us as safely and conveniently as any other delivery. It is a time-consuming process to understand new materials that come to be available, along with meeting regular deadlines. However, it is an absolute necessity since Stories prides itself on creating spaces that will remain loved for long periods of time.
These qualities have sculpted Stories into a company that is brimming with passion. This flows down to every space that we have worked on. We definitely are a company that is looking to make profits and establish our place in this industry. However, what we enjoy most is working with clients who share our belief system – creating spaces that clients need and love, with passion, quality, and timely service. Our strong belief system does have its advantages since it ensures like-minded people come together for projects.
However, it does come with its own set of challenges. For example, the pandemic proved to be a deterrent for project visits, since we were hesitant to take a potential client to another site. Safety and security are of utmost importance. It was also challenging to meet new vendors or have them visit the studio. We used technology to solve most of our challenges. The pandemic was definitely a testing time, but it did really set us up for firefighting, which I believe is a necessary skill for someone to lead a company.
As a leader and businesswoman, I strive towards creating an inclusive and open workplace where ideas are welcome, and execution is key. There are several distinctions that are made for women leaders. However, having grown up in a family where business was everyday life, I believe gender and age play lesser roles when compared to the vision and the zeal that a leader possesses. I don’t focus on being a woman leader. I focus on leading. In line with this, I have established a healthy workspace as the foundation for creating the perfect spaces for clients.
We are steadily building Stories to be a one-stop shop for luxury interiors. While we have already created a niche for ourselves in the interior design segment, we have expanded our horizons to include bespoke furniture and personalized artwork that is done in-house. Since spaces are a reflection of the client’s personality and preferences, commissioned work ensures we tie the project up with a personal touch.
The road has definitely been a bumpy one for me, but I would recommend it to every young entrepreneur who wishes to write a story for themselves in the world of business. As a working mother, I find a good support system, a team that shares your passion, and never losing sight of your goal can be the basis of a very successful entrepreneurial journey. Write your own Stories. And success will follow.
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