“I never asked my parents for money after college”
At the age of 13, Nikki Bisiker remodeled her bedroom in England using money she inherited from a Jamaican great-uncle.
Now Senior Creative Director of Nikki Bisiker Interior Design in Dubai, she honed her skills designing and managing a restaurant project in the UK, redesigning a hotel in Wales and managing a barn conversion. luxury.
In the 1990s, Ms Bisiker took on a private commission to design luxury homes in France and superyachts in Monaco before launching her first business in Dubai, Nikki B Signature Interiors, in 2004.
After a stint outside, it was eventually rebranded as Nikki Bisiker Interior Design in 2019, employing her son, 35, as project manager. This year, she will launch her furniture collection Nikki B.
An avid tango dancer and cook, Ms Bisiker, 61, lives in Palm Jumeirah.
How did money play into your upbringing?
I come from a middle class family. My mother was a private secretary in a company, my father was a commercial director. I was very active, had a perfect childhood… ballet lessons, piano lessons, Sunday biking, ice skating, summer vacations and had a lovely garden.
We never talked about money. They never seemed to have a lot, but we always had enough to do what we wanted to do.
When I went to college, my mother had to pay half, so she kept working, but I worked vacations to supplement that. I never asked for money after college.
When did you first receive a salary?
When I was 14, I started working at a hairdresser for £1.50 (7Dh) a day, then in a restaurant in a department store to pay for driving lessons. I took a private secretarial course in sixth grade and during the holidays, I did temporary work in offices.
I wanted to be in hospitality and tourism, to have luxury and people around me having fun, so I found a job as a general assistant in a hotel.
What led to interior design?
Decorating my room was very important to me. Later I met my (former) husband and his family bought an old chapel. We turned it into a restaurant and it was really successful. I designed and took care of everything when I was around 21 or 22.
I was lucky to have this opportunity. Then they wanted a hotel; we completely renovated it and I stayed there for 11 years. I did all the design and friends were asking me to do things for them. It was a catalyst.
I ended up moving to Monaco, made apartments and a yacht there, and spent six months cruising the Mediterranean. I did (design) it more for fun and experience, but I had in mind what I wanted to do.
What brought you to Dubai?
I knew I could start a real design business here – in 2004 things were developing. We moved into one of the Dubai Marina show homes and were (among) the first people to bring a yacht.
I went shopping for this house and met a local lady who said, “You seem to know exactly what you’re doing, are you an interior designer? »
A few months later she called and by then I had set up the business and started doing their home. It went from there.
Are your customers mostly big spenders?
We will always make different styles, different houses from an architectural and interior point of view. It’s good to have that mix, so we have very high net worth clients and clients who are more in the middle of the road.
A high budget is more fun because you can be more creative. That said, you can have small projects where the client allows you to be very creative and that’s just as fun — and challenging.
The client’s money should be taken care of and the budget used wisely. Everyone’s income is relative. You see all horizons.
As an interior designer, you are not here to have an opinion, other than an opinion on interior design. People need to believe you can be like that. Discretion is everything.
Are money or creativity your motivations?
It must be both. I work for an income, like most people, and I work to support the people I employ. I am lucky to have orchestrated my life to work in a profession that I love, while maintaining an income.
The most important thing is that the customer likes you. That’s my main focus, whether they’re spending a lot or the budget is more minimal, (for them) to be in love with what they have, and whether it’s a restaurant or a property development , they get a good return on investment .
Are you a saver or a spender?
This has varied throughout my life, depending on the circumstances. I save money for certain things. I haven’t been able to save since the pandemic. This is something that will start again, hopefully next year.
I am never an extravagant spender. I don’t buy very expensive handbags, they have no value to me. But some things mean a lot; for example, I have tango lessons every day and I spend on that rather than going out to dinner.
I have a few investments here and there, but saving hasn’t been a big part of my life because it was more about making things work here and now. I invested everything in the business; I never had any outside investment, never borrowed – I started this business with zero.
What are your cherished expenses?
Dancing in Buenos Aires four years ago, on rooftops until five in the morning to live music. We also rented bikes, walked through the center and rode horses.
Tango vacations are something I’ve always wanted to do. It gave me great energy, seeing different countries and cultures, colors, architectures… everything contributes to your creative spirit.
Also, I bought a Harley-Davidson, took my test, and a week later took a trip from Lyon to San Tropez, France, with 120 Harleys from around the world. It was a challenge, but it was such a moment.
Is money synonymous with happiness?
Money doesn’t make you happy inside – a lot of people have a lot and aren’t happy. Does money contribute to happiness? Certainly, because without it you cannot do certain things that make you happy.
Buying certain foods, living in a certain place or traveling, going to visit friends or relatives… without money it becomes impossible.
The most important thing is health; without health, no matter how much money you have. With wealth, there is a middle ground where it provides happiness, stability, security, and gives you the ability to do things.
Are you wise with money?
It doesn’t slip through my fingers and I’m wise with money in terms of business, because it has to be.
In my personal life, I spend in areas where things are important to me. Time spent with people costs money sometimes…those things I spend without thinking too much.
In my personal life, I’m more relaxed (although) I generally think about value before spending.
Are you splurging on your home?
The most I’ve spent money on in my apartment is artwork. A friend who is an artist made some for me and I have other art from France.
And kitchen equipment — I love to cook. In general, I made the house a home, without being extravagant.
Do you have any financial regrets?
A house in the UK… I bought at one point and lost money when I came to sell. I don’t regret having bought it, but I would have liked to keep it for the recovery of the market.
In addition, I bought a small grand piano. It was my dream to have this. I sold it and wish I didn’t have it, but I didn’t have room for it. It was a good buy but I lost money when I sold it. They weren’t bad investments to begin with.
Do you have a retirement plan?
I don’t want to retire completely. I would probably take a few selective projects each year (and run) the furniture line, spend more time being creative on that.
It takes an investment, but it’s also my savings plan and my retirement plan because it’s something I can do from anywhere. I want to have it made in the UAE, but export it worldwide.
Updated: April 22, 2022, 6:02 p.m.