How these three mompreneurs built a design studio to help transform homes


Every one of us has surely visited a space that has left us enthralled and captivated. Little do we realise how much the interior design of the space contributes to the overall experience. Friends since their college days, Ami Mehta, Purvi Shah and Shefali Survi had met over a bottle of wine and realised how much a beautiful ambience can help friends and family relax and enjoy. That is how they came up with the idea of Onyx Designer Studio.

“We offer interior design services for discerning, quality-conscious clients who seek assistance in the design of their residence, vacation homes and offices,” says 40-year-old Shefali.

Currently with a staff of two creative space designers, three site executors and a large team of skilled contractors, Onyx Designer Studio, based out of Mumbai, proposes turnkey project solutions by being designers as well as taking care of the fit out work with their preferred subcontractors.

Onyx Designer Studio, started in 2013, takes projects from conceptualisation through implementation, based on the client’s taste, budget and functionality of the space.

Shefali has over two decades of interior design experience, which made it easier for her to hire the team to build the design studio. Once the trio started taking projects up under their banner, they were able to hire their initial set of employees like creative designers and site executors through referrals.

(Left to right): Ami Mehta, Shefali Surve and Purvi Shah.

The mompreneurs

Ami (39) is a mother and an interior designer by profession. While Ami has been an interior designer she has also worked with social projects like, ‘Spreading Smile’, and with NGOs. Purvi (41), a mother of two, also has decades of interior design experience with different interior design firms and also loves to travel to various places and study materials and their finishes. Shefali loves to conceptualise design and create eco-friendly spaces for clients.

The total revenue Onyx made was Rs 85 lakh but also projected loses, which Onyx refused to disclose. Nevertheless, the team claims that now they have broken even are and are profitable.  “At an individual level each of us used to handle one to two sites a year, but in period of two years Onyx Designer Studio saw a successful completion of 34 sites,” says Shefali.

Cutting through the market

The design industry is a fast growing sector and in that the interior design and home décor market is estimated to be Rs. 1.25 crore. A 2015 report by the CII close to 17 percent of the interior design industry contributed over Rs 25 crore to the overall design industry. Apart from established design firms today, many interior design companies are using the tech route. Popular among these are Foyr, Furdo, LivSpace, Gharcentre and FloorSpace.

However, Shefali believes that Onyx’s uniqueness comes from the fact that they treat each space differently and do not follow any cookie-cutter models. Exclusive selection accessibility of product design services and value-based pricing differentiates Onyx Designer Studio from others, she adds.

Looking ahead

“Designing each space is always a challenging job, each product varies with every site and every scope of design. We bear this in mind and then plan functional and beautiful spaces, be it residential or commercial,” adds Shefali.

The pricing structure varies widely, depending on the designer, the complexity of the projects, and geographical location. It can be in the terms of fixed fees or one-time payment, hourly fee, percentage, turnkey or per square foot. “The future plan for Onyx Designer Studio is to explore new avenues and trends, establish a one-of-a-kind experience centre while creating new designs with a futuristic approach,” says Shefali.

Onyx intends to have a large studio where they can display various home, office and vacation home designs for customers to understand the different designs that they can recreate in their homes.

Their goal over a period of time is to increase the business by the number of clients per designer per month.