Astha Kohli is the co-founder of the newly launched Flwr Studio, a personalised flower box gifting service. The American, 47, a design and marketing graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in the US, has previously had roles in marketing and positions in luxury lifestyle and event management. She has lived in Dubai for more than 15 years.
How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?
I was fortunate in that growing up I never really thought about money, as my parents showered us with everything we needed, from love and affection to knowledge and gifts. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realised and learnt that your outlook on money shapes your future. As a business owner I believe in taking creative risks to grow and succeed. Yet at the same time, I make sure to keep a very close eye on my business’s financial health.
Are you a spender or saver?
I try to keep a balance. I’m rather sensible. However, if there is something I really want or need, I will save to get it.
What is your most cherished purchase?
I know it sounds a bit of a cliché, but I actually cherish moments and memories rather than items. If I had to pick something that I bought then it would be a holiday where memories were created. A few years ago, we had a family trip to India to visit relatives, but family also travelled from the US. And many had not met each other. It turned into a reunion/reconnection/learning environment – we ticked all the boxes.
Have you ever had a month when you feared you could not pay the bills?
About a decade ago, I went through a transition which caused some monetary fear. I learnt that turbulent times come and go, and to always focus on the future. Tough times can strengthen belief systems.
Where do you save?
I save on not spending frivolously. I really think about what I want to spend my money on and I’m not an impulsive buyer. I believe it is more of a mindset which, if developed and nurtured, can create discipline and that helps tremendously when running a business.
What has been your best investment?
It’s important to invest in yourself. You can lose your job, you may want a career change or have personal issues, so it’s our own responsibility to broaden our horizons and develop interests and create knowledge and skills to be ready to face any eventuality. It’s also really important to just turn off. Sometimes I find that people think that if you’re in a creative profession that you don’t need to turn off, but that isn’t true. Investing in yourself – or turning off – fuels you for the next career hurdle.
What do you most regret spending money on?
Whenever a regret has happened, I realise that it’s a lesson learnt. I don’t enjoy wasting money or spending it on something that isn’t useful. And for me, I learnt late to start saving.
What financial advice would you offer your younger self?
Focus on one’s passion and how to build a career out of something you love and get satisfaction from. If I knew this information when I was younger, I would most certainly have dealt with my finances in a different manner. In life, you need a motivator and the same is true for managing your finances. This would have given me more focus and direction.
Do you have a plan for the future?
Living in Dubai for a long time and witnessing the extent of the city’s growth and development has inspired me for the future. We have big plans for continuously building our brand and business with innovative concepts that will appeal to consumers and businesses. I’m planning to expand my business, not just in terms of multiple product offerings, but to further our reach outside the UAE.
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