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MUST READ: Mothers who inspired their daughters

Last updated on: September 1, 2012 09:29 IST

Mothers who inspired their daughters

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In his latest column, Vijay Nair talks about design entrepreneurs Shilo Shiv Suleiman and Mishta Roy's unconventional career choices and the influence and encouragement they received from their respective mothers.

In his previous column, Vijay had outlined how two IT graduates broke free from their mundane jobs to carve out a new future.

Middle class parents in India traditionally don't dream beyond the conventional career options for their children. It is always about bringing them up to be doctors and engineers. The jaded explanation has to do with ensuring adequate safety nets in order to have a vocation the child can bank on for employment. Much has changed in this country, but the race for admissions into medical and engineering colleges continues unabated. The IT boom has further contributed to this phenomenon. Entrepreneurship is seen to be intrinsically linked to being tech savvy. What is forgotten in all this is how enterprise is linked to ideas and creativity and if parents encourage their children to follow their passion, they will find a way to channelise their creative energy into a successful career that not only gets them success and fame but also the satisfaction of having achieved their career goals on their own terms.

Shilo Shiv Suleiman and Mishta Roy are two design entrepreneurs from Bangalore who have bucked the trend of following the conventional path and gained both success and respect at a young age. Both the achievers acknowledge their unconventional career choices owe a great deal to the influence and encouragement they received from their respective mothers.

"My mother used to recreate maps when I was a child," shares Shilo, "so I grew up amidst hills and rivers and valleys." She also acknowledges the contribution of her school, The Valley School, Bangalore towards her professional growth as an artist and a designer. "It is spread over 100 acres of land and the school had an art village where I used to paint." Shilo has just completed her course from the Srishti School of Art and Design but she has already made a mark beyond the borders of India.

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Vijay is a writer and Organisation Coach/Consultant based in Bangalore. His best-selling management book The Boss is Not Your Friend was published by Hachette India last year. His new novel Let her Rest now has been released last month and is available in bookstores. 


Image: Shilo Shiv Suleiman; Inset: Mishta Roy
Photographs: Shilo Shiv Suleman and Mishta Roy

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She illustrated her first book for children when she was barely 16 and since then has gone on to illustrate another eight.

Shilo's passion for visual story telling through multiple mediums led her to design an augmented reality book for kids and an iPad application Khoya. Shilo worked on Khoya for her diploma project as part of her course in the design school, but the application became hugely popular and got her invitations to speak at prestigious international conferences. She has been chosen by TED and Levi's as an ambassador of 'Shape of Things to Come,' and is among the three Indian women to be felicitated at the TED Global Conference, 2011. She is also one of the youngest speakers at WIRED UK and DLD conference in London and Munich. Shilo continues to illustrate and design covers for children's books and teaches art to children in her house along with her painter mother Neelu. "I have been earning ever since I was in my teens and now with Khoya's popularity, I am doing very well for myself," Shilo sums up her professional journey to date.

Mishta Roy is also quick to acknowledge the contribution her mother has made in her career. Her mother is a painter and had to fight very hard to go to an Art College in Kolkata when she was a student. But since she had already paved the path for Mishta, it was natural for her to dabble with paints and canvasses from an early age. While she was studying in College of Art, Delhi, Mishta's paintings started getting noticed in artistic circles and she was invited to display her works in prestigious group exhibitions. For her masters, Mishta enrolled in the prestigious Central Saint Martin School of Art and Design, London after getting a scholarship from the Aga Khan Foundation and Sunya Foundation that is run by the Sarabhai trust.


Image: An illustration by Shilo Shiv Suleman
Photographs: Courtesy: Shilo Shiv Suleman

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The art education in a foreign land exposed her to hitherto unexplored areas like Performance Arts and Installation Arts all of which contributed to her growth as an artist and an individual. After she came back to India, she joined Tehelka as an illustrator and steadily rose up the ranks.

Today Mishta runs her own Design company in Bangalore. She prefers to call herself an art designer and her work that she terms creatively stimulating as well as paying ranges from designing logos for corporate entities to book covers for publishing houses. "I really enjoy what I do and am largely dictated by my heart when it comes to choosing the projects I work on. I have on occasions agreed to design covers for academic books at a very nominal fee just because the work challenged me." Currently, apart from running her own 'virtual' design firm that gets artists and design professionals from different cities across the world to work on projects online, Mishta is also the Chief Designer for a few art organisations and publishing houses. She is busy round the clock doing what she loves doing. Getting the artist in her to design for individuals and organisations.

Design entrepreneurs like Shilo and Mishta are great role models to have for Indian youth. They have married the pragmatism of a career with the free spirit of an artist. They deserve all the respect they are getting as professionals. And so do their mothers for shaping them into what they are today.


Image: An illustration by Shilo Shiv Suleman
Photographs: Courtesy: Shilo Shiv Suleman

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