Golam Sarwar Sarina is the visionary behind Sarina Interiors, a design studio based in Austin, Texas. When Golam was only five years old, he moved to America with his parents from India and has been dedicated to interior design ever since. His father served as an architect in Austin after their migration and proved to be one of Golam’s greatest sources of inspiration throughout his career. With four decades under his belt, Golam brings endless expertise and talent to each project at hand.
Mr. Sarwar was the one who first opened Golam’s eyes to the world of design and interiors. During summer breaks, as well as after school days, Golam used to help his father with his studio—this is when a passion for designs and interiors ignited within him.
During his time with his father, he assimilated robust information on the fundamentals of design, from color theory to more complex notions like how color psychology influences people.
From a young age, Golam was drawn to the art of interior design over architecture. It became clear that he wanted his future career path to be in this field. Taking advantage of dual enrollment opportunities available during his senior year in high school, Golam began taking strides towards achieving his ambitions and putting him on the track for success early on.
By the time his peers were freshmen, Golam was already a sophomore. After completing his bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture and Design from the School of Design and Creative Technology in Austin, he formally joined forces with his father at their architectural design firm as an assistant and established a brand new interior design department!
Golam’s passion for creativity and color selection, coupled with his expertise in window treatments and furniture placement, earned him a loyal fan base over time. After the passing of his father in 1993, Golam decided to establish Sarina Interiors – an independent venture dedicated to delivering beyond expectations; consistently coming up with timely ideas that captivated the market. Today, after three decades since its inception, hundreds of residential and commercial clients have reaped rewards from Golam’s business acumen.
Golam Sarwar is overjoyed to have turned his passion into a livelihood. He relishes hearing from customers and observing their enthusiasm when he helps bring their decorating visions to life. In addition to fulfilling the dreams of his clients, Golam is an adoring father of two children and provides constant encouragement for his wife Rakhi, a freelance IT professional. Aside from work, Golam loves traveling around the world and savoring different cuisines.
How did you get started in your industry?
While still in high school, I started helping my father at his architecture Studio in Austin. I enjoyed working there and realized that I can do something in the field of interior design. When I decided to pursue interior design as my career, I decided to learn everything professionally. I enrolled myself in the School of Design and Creative Technology, Austin to get a bachelor’s degree in Interior, Architecture & Design. Self-study played a great role in my becoming an entrepreneur.
Even last year, I did a short course in business management so that I can improve my entrepreneurial skills. I believe that a person should never stop learning and polishing his skills and knowledge. My father’s architecture studio provided a platform to kick start my career. I always knew a job was not my ultimate goal. I wanted a personal design studio like my father so during the early days I also learned from my father how to manage a business. After gaining an in-depth working knowledge of the industry and tips and tricks to develop a loyal clientele, in 1993, I founded Sarina Interiors and since then there is no looking back.
How do you make money in your field?
I charge per project for my design services. I create colorful and full-of-life designs for my clients. I also provide consultation to commercial clients on how they can make their properties more efficient. I help my clients with maximizing space for storage and functionality while keeping aesthetics in mind.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It took a decade for Sarina Interiors to become profitable. During the early days, I managed my finances by working for other design firms as a consultant on a regular basis. I would say I wasn’t a full-time entrepreneur till the 2000s, even though I started my own practice in 1993. I kept working remotely before I could buy a place for my studio in Austin near my residence. Initially, I started in my garage but when I had a proper lavish place for my studio in 2001 to put up a board of Sarina Interiors it started with new vigor. All that hard work finally started to pay off in the coming years!
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Designing is a tricky business where the only thing that keeps you going is confidence in your skill and creativity. To be honest, I had doubts at first whether the clients would like my designs and ideas or not but my doubts were soon replaced when people liked my innovative ideas and loved my work. Most of them referred their friends and families to me. So, I overcame any doubts sooner than I expected.
Do you remember how you got your first client?
My father’s clients became my primary source of clientele for Sarina Interiors. I still remember my first private client was a newlywed couple. The groom’s father was my father’s client and he actually referred his son to hire me as the interior designer for setting up their first home.
What is one marketing strategy that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
According to my experience, others may differ, it is vital to stay active in your community and also social media to stay relevant. That’s why I built an in-house, small yet active marketing team to manage Sarina Interiors’ both offline and online presence. I genuinely enjoy my work and strive to create positive energy that attracts new clients.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in your professional life?
Purchasing the place for my design studio was a big decision. I made it after almost a decade of starting my studio but still, it has been the biggest investment so far I have made in my professional life. Sarina Interiors was doing well even when it was in my home’s garage but I knew I had to take this giant leap to expand the business.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
Being a team player is my biggest strength. Working as the CEO of Sarina Interiors, I have realized I can’t achieve what I dream of an incredible support system in place no matter how good I am. Having a great team and being a good team player is the key to success.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I was immensely happy when I got my first big job designing a commercial property in the center of the city. Knowing that someone trusts me so much that they want me to design such a massive million-dollar project is so motivating.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I am always excited about every opportunity that comes my way. I feel enthusiastic to take Sarina Interiors to the next level. I am always thinking of ways to grow and make Sarina Interiors a household brand. At the same time, I am a cautious planner so that I do not get in over my head too soon. My studio has allowed me to come across incredible clients from different areas of Austin and beyond and know about the trends people are interested in.
What business books have inspired you?
If one hasn’t read the book, The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz before starting a business then I recommend giving it a read. It’s written by the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs. The book suggests fundamental advice on building and running a startup. It offers practical wisdom for managing the toughest problems that are not addressed by even prominent business schools.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop pleasing people, and forget what other people say or think. Have faith in yourself and just do your best.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Why not! I am more than happy to help anyone keen to learn about the innovations in the design industry and how to start a design studio of their own. Anyone is welcome to contact me through my social media handles.