Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Aly Velji, founder of Alykhan Velji Designs Inc., located in Calgary, AB, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a boutique interior design business catering to both residential and commercial clients celebrating 15 years in Canada. We have had projects featured internationally and strive to create spaces that are personalized, go beyond current trends and stand the test of time. My belief that good design should be accessible to all goes into everything that I create. My interiors are approachable, comfortable, and inviting without lacking style.

Tell us about yourself

I started my business right after graduating from Bow Valley College (All be it, I didn't have a client for the first two years); however, I did school myself in the retail and antique world by working at a gallery that specialized in antiques from India and China. This led me to into loving mixing different styles of furniture and really appreciating well-made, quality furniture pieces. My motivation is that I get to do what I love every day. I feel like I am one of the lucky ones that do get to do something that I love every day. Creating spaces for people that they will love for years to come brings me so much joy.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I feel like having your own business is a bit accomplishment in itself. There are so many moving parts to having a business, and you have to wear many hats. However, I think the diversification of my design practice is what I am most proud of. We design not only interior spaces but also furniture, carpets, wallpapers, etc. We have been fortunate enough to have some incredible collaborations with different companies to create some gorgeous lines of interior products.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest thing about being a business owner is always working. It is hard to shut off at the end of the day as being a business owner is not a 9-5. You are constantly thinking about work, clients, what is next, how to get the next client, etc. I think that passion for having your own business takes a special person as there are so many moving parts. There are some definite perks to being your own boss, and I would not change it for the world; however, that does come with its own challenges.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Get out there
    One of the biggest reasons that I think my business has done well is because I networked a lot when I was first starting out. I met as many people as I could in the industry, went to events, shook hands (when you could), and really started spreading the word about my company and what I was doing. This helped me get in touch with the right people and helped my business blossom.
  2. Diversify
    I think it is great to be known for one thing, but even better if you are known to be great at a bunch of things. This diversity in what you do will help you reach a broader net and allow different parts of your company to thrive at different times. When you rely on one thing alone, it can sometimes be a challenge at slower times. I found this out during COVID, as our design business was slow; however, other parts of my business were still doing well, which helped me survive.
  3. Learn from your mistakes
    I have made many mistakes as a business owner, more than I care to count. But that is what has made me a stronger business owner. If I had let all my mistakes get to me and discouraged me, I would not be where I am today. These are learning lessons to help you grow. Take them in stride and pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on to the next.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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