Shalini Kapoor is the Founder and Director of Little Artists, an art studio in, Singapore, which celebrates Art through children – to imbue their lives with colour, form, texture and composition. When Shalini established Little Artists, it was the confluence of two major passions-Art and Teaching children. She has special ability to train children in Art. She coordinates the entire art program, monitors the development /progress of all children and trains the staff at the studio. It is an entrepreneurial journey of 14 years which expanded without any marketing and advertisements channels but just on word of mouth publicity. At some point Shalini found it very challenging to manage the studio herself and then she started hiring teachers. Today there are 25 teachers working under her both on full time and on freelancing basis. These teachers are professionally qualified in the field of arts and are trained specially as per requirement of the studio.A down to earth personality, Shalini finds enjoyment in every activity she gets involved, even she considers cooking as an art which has to be delivered with creativity.She is a woman of substance in real terms. Womenlines is proud to share about Shalini’s journey in the field of arts with its readers-
I am an art educator and an entrepreneur, heading art studios which provide specialized art education to children (age 2 1/2 to 17) and adults. We provide full range of curriculum, at every age and stage, which is tailored to their abilities and aptitude, grow their skills, eventually train them enough to be able to succeed in school and later lead them to Art Colleges globally.I am a graduate of Sophia Institute Mumbai, specializing in Design and Art. Before embarking upon teaching, I was a full time fashion and textile designer for various buying houses, with clients like Gap, Banana Republic, Billabong, Levis, Pier 1 etc. I then took a career break to pursue my passion in fine arts and later specialized in traditional Indian art. Art has always been my passion, since childhood.I loved my career as a designer as it brought its own daily dose of excitement. However, when I came to Singapore, instead of taking up a similar job here, I felt the need to do something that comes naturally to me and is fulfilling. I love children and had a natural ability to teach and understand them. Once I started, there was no stopping. The studio grew not because I had planned it that way but because of the response and support from keen parents. Little Artists is the outcome of parents’ appreciation and a faith in my teaching philosophy.
2.When did you start your company? Where? And what motivated you to start it?
I arrived in Singapore in 1996, as an expat wife, accompanying my husband in his career move.I started the studio in 1997. I felt there was a need in Singapore, for a good quality art education for children. When I saw how children were taught in different art classes, I could see something was missing.Another thing that got me involved in teaching is my love for children. They get along with me very well and I love their company. It is one of those non observable bonds that exist between me and children.I have always derived happiness from seeing a child develop and feel confident.I believe in everyone getting chances, so I do not give up on people or children. I know that if I have class full of kids, I would want them ALL to be successful. I believe in finding unique solution to each and every student’s problem. With all the chances I was given as a kid, I should give all of my students as many chances as they need to achieve their potential. We have had many special needs kids who had no hope in academics but were interested to learn art. With many years of learning now they have become capable enough to aspire to pursue art as their career choice. This is absolutely satisfying and motivating for me
3.Any challenges that you had to face in the initial days?
I never looked at my work as a business, but as a mission. I consciously resisted the pressure to grow the studio at a rapid speed, in spite of high demand at all times. We always took only those many students whom we can give full time and attention. My greatest challenge was that the demand of the program was always superseding the studio capacity. Many times parents would get upset after waiting for too long. I didn’t want to take students and don’t do my best as I carry a moral and professional responsibility.I had to also make sure that the staff working with me is also as committed and maintains the same quality of teaching.It was hard to find such people. Overall I have been fortunate to have worked with wonderful people who aligned themselves well to the ethos of the studio. Another challenging period was during the SARS epidemic and economic down turns, but we stuck to our values, did not retrench any staff, but used that period to enhance their skills.
4.How do you balance your personal and professional life?
I belong to a very close knit family and am very close to my parents. Therefore I would like my children to have the same feeling for me. I believe in clear allocation of time for my personal and professional life.I have two kids 10 and 4. I spend daily quality time with my children, play with them ,help them with their homework’s or be present in their school and social activity as much as possible. On the days I am not working I take them out or plan a day where they have a different kind of learning with fun. I love to paint with my sons or go to the beach cycling. I like to talk to them and listen to their day to day happenings.I believe in having a balance in life. It is very important to set your priorities, be organized and be disciplined. Nobody can be 100 % perfect every day, but I try my best to fill up my day meaningfully.
5.What would you suggest to other aspiring women, who want to venture out on their own?
I would say be passionate about what you want to do and dedicate yourself to your work. Have a strong belief in what you do If you are good the rest will happen by itself.
My husband Sanjeev has been my greatest source of support and inspiration He has always guided me to look at the big picture and not to let small problems deter me from my path. Being himself from Business Management School (IIMB), he has mentored me very closely in many aspects of my work. I do think that I would not have reached this far without him. He has been my true friend, mentor and guide and I dedicate my work to him.
My other source of inspiration comes from my mother who has always encouraged me to be independent and my dad, who is a homeopathic physician of national fame in India. He is a very hardworking and a positive man. He is 79 and still working. He loves his work and finds joy in curing cases which were declared incurable. He has taught me to find joy in what I do. According to him your work should be your greatest source of relaxation, and then you don’t need so many holidays!!
7.What do you have in the pipeline for your company?
I would want all children who are part of Little Artists to be successful and find their path in the field of visual art. I want the studio to be always a place of quality learning, for those who are seeking for real knowledge.Till we continue to meet the above two fundamentals, the studio can grow and shape up organically to its potential.
A believer of quote “Painting is an extension of man’s means of communication, As such,it’s pure,difficult, and wonderful.”Shalini believes in giving back to society. She has done a lot of work with SAMH (Singapore Association of mental health) as a visiting art therapist and has received rewards and recognition for her services . She has also contributed to SCARF (Schizophrenia Research foundation). Womenlines wishes best of luck to Shalini for her future!
Visit http://little-artists.com/index.php to know about Shalini’s venture.