Interview: Daniele Mantovani
DBC: Welcome Daniele, please tell us about your career and business background:
My name is Daniele Mantovani. I’m an Australian, originally from Brazil.
I finished my Bachelor’s degree in Architecture in 2000, but have been working in my passion as an Interior Designer since then.
In Brazil I’ve worked as many different things in many different areas, starting as a sales representative until I could start my own Interior Design business which was called KLDM Interiors.
During this time, KLDM participated for many years at the biggest design fair in Brazil doing renovations at old and unusable public spaces, turning them into beautifully designed spaces and handing them back to the city for public use. In 2008 the company won first place for best bathroom design, competing with more than 800+ projects around the country. I can say this was one of the most important moments of my career. The prize was an amazing trip to Milan to visit the best design trend exhibition in the world – the “Salone Internationale de Milano”.
DBC: What things stand out for you as bold actions that have led to where you are now?
In 2009 I became engaged, and my future was set to change completely. My beloved fiancée proposed we should live overseas, more precisely in Australia, and start a new life there together. Fearing the unknown, but also excited to have an entirely new experience, I asked myself many times why I should do it. I was developing professionally, but at the same time external factors in Brazil, such as violence, were on a high so I thought this could be an opportunity to grow a family in a safer place and decided to embark on this adventure.
After one year of applying and waiting for the visa, we had our permanent residency approved and we moved to Australia in 2010. When we arrived everything was new and different and of course we knew we had a lot to learn in the years to come. I missed my family and close friends a lot, and felt homesick many times during this adaptation period. However this feeling made me strong, and wanting to keep moving and adopt Australia as my new home.
DBC: How did you learn to be successful in business and did you access any coaching or other education?
After realizing things are very different here from Brazil in terms of design and peoples’ taste, I decided the best way to understand the culture – the ‘aussie way’ – was to go back to the classroom, so I enrolled in a design school. My first year was hard but once I got my diploma I felt confident to begin working again, independently.
My first work in Australia was to build two display areas for a company in Melbourne called Connect Furniture, presented at “Better Homes and Gardens” in 2011. Since then I’ve been actively working and developing myself, only stopping for around a year when my son Thomas was born back in 2012.
From 2015, I started sharing ownership of Décor Project, a Design Company specializing mostly in residential projects. I also began working at Sydney Design School, this time as an educator – a profession with which I fell in love.
I found out that sharing my knowledge is something really rewarding and it makes me feel happy when doing it.
I am very proud of what I’ve built so far (mostly on my own) but I can’t say I’ve reached my best potential yet. I guess if you are passionate about what you do and you keep persisting in reaching your goals it’s just a matter of time before you are rewarded.
DBC: What would you recommend to other women starting out in business today?
Another thing I’ve learned after my big life change is that it doesn’t really matter where you came from … it doesn’t matter if English is not your first language. What really matters is your knowledge and who you are as a person – your soul. Nobody can take that from you.
Trust your instincts, be confident and everything is possible.
DBC: What changes or new projects are planned?
Our plans are to invest more in marketing for Décor Project. There is a lot of potential yet to be unleashed. Showing more and more of what we are capable of creating is the key to success. Growing the business and hiring creative minds to help us are some of our goals to make our clients even happier with the results. And I can say it’s already happening.
Not forgetting my well-being, I am also investing more in me. Sometimes things that seems silly - such as stretching every morning, drinking more water, playing piano (which I love) – but I know these things greatly contribute to my mind being at peace and being able to create and have more ideas.
I hope my story can inspire other women out there to think positive and be strong. Don’t be scared to fall apart, because if that happens there is also an opportunity to rebuild yourself and make yourself a better person.
CONTACTS + CREDITS:
Interview by Gretchen Hillhouse 2017
You can find out more or contact Daniele at www.decorproject.com.au