Where every design creates a milestone

Where every design creates a milestone
It's easy to incorporate a company in the UAE, says Sejal Nagjee.

dubai - Sejal Nagjee runs a turnkey design-and-build company

By Muhammad Riaz Usman

Published: Sat 19 May 2018, 5:29 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 May 2018, 5:45 PM

Sejal Nagjee, founder, CEO and creative director of Milestone, represented India in international table tennis championships for 17 years, winning 138 medals. As she started her professional sports career at the age of 11, a fit and disciplined regime was part of her lifestyle. Shortly after getting married, she started exploring constructive ways to harness her creative talent.

"I began designing unique gifts for family and friends. This led to my first commercial venture, Pure Joy, in Mumbai, India, a company specialising in creative gifts. Being married to a business coach meant that I received some excellent coaching and guidance," recalls Sejal.

Pure Joy made unique and innovative gifts, manufacturing 25,000 products every year. "We sold them through five of the top lifestyle stores in Mumbai and through exhibitions," she says.

After her retirement from active professional sports, Sejal had studied Ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arrangemnt) for 7 years at the Ohara School of Japan, Bonsai from the Indo-Japanese Association and interior design.

In 2003, her husband's career brought her to Dubai, where she decided to start her floral art company Milestone. "We offered floral art, indoor and outdoor gardens to hotels, restaurants, clubs and offices and homes," she explains.

True passion
An interior designer at heart, with an eye for landscape design, Sejal's true passion lies in undertaking individual home garden and interior projects, where she can work closely with her clients.

With expansion came new opportunities and Sejal soon realised that more and more of her clientele were requesting swimming pool design and construction, as well as exterior designs.

"Within two years, we added interiors and landscaping services. Business grew through recommendations and we started a pools division and added a carpentry factory too," she continues.

Milestone began to design and manufacture external gazebos, pergolas, fences, seating arrangements, beds, studies, wardrobes, panels, ceiling and flooring enhancements and literally everything in between.

"We catered to people who were stressed moving homes as they had to get multiple approvals, coordinate with multiple contractors, hire a separate designer and contractor and spend a lot of time supervising and coordinating home improvement alongside a busy career and life," Sejal explains.

"We became experts in design-and-build projects to allow home owners to relax, work and make their moving into a new home a stress-free experience. We help people to move into their dream home. We take pride in delivering a beautiful home with a professional design-and-build team," she continues.

Milestone has emerged into a leading turnkey design-and-build company that creates homes, offices, spas, restaurants, schools and swimming pools.

Sejal says a design-and-build service requires deep knowledge of materials, methods, planting, technical expertise and project management skills.

"We specialise in coordinated project management to execute the projects on time, to specifications and within the allocated budget. We ensure a higher return on investment, increasing the value of the property, reducing maintenance, making it energy-efficient and meeting personal standards," she explains.

"I like to focus on the empty spaces within the whole space and design, something that will make the whole space useful, free of clutter and congestion," she continues.

Sejal says a beautiful home is a homeowner's dream. "It's a place that you want to go back to after a tiring day. You want to be pampered, nourished and live in harmony. A passionately built home that takes care of every little convenience, keeps things organised and makes one feel on top of the world delivers an amazing feeling. And the advantage of having a dream home designed, executed and decorated by a single efficient team is the sweetest part of the deal," she adds.

Sejal believes the UAE is a great market and offers great opportunities to succeed. "It's easy to incorporate a company in the UAE compared to other places in the world. It's also easy to recruit, get visas and hire talented people to work," she says.

She adds that getting a proper place to start a business is easier in the UAE. However, she says that getting funding is expensive and challenging. Sejal started her venture with personal saving and then her father, uncle and friends funded the expansion. "We started in 2003 and it's been 15 years this April. Now the team size is 70 employees," she says.

She attributes her success to her father, mother and husband as they "made me a champion, allowing me to grow and always mentored me and provided world-class coaches in every field."

The role of technology and social media play a crucial role in the growth of her business. "More than 70 per cent of our leads are generated through digital marketing and an online presence," says Sejal.

She urges young entrepreneurs to continuously invest in business coaching and growth programmes to create a robust team that is process-oriented, innovative and resourceful.

- riaz@khaleejtimes.com

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