Money & Me: British expat sees future gains from child furniture business in UAE

Sameera Ameer is the founder of Wild Child Designz, a company that creates furniture for children and provides an interior design service. The 32-year-old Briton, a mother to two daughters, ages seven and five, has lived in the UAE for seven years. She launched her company in June 2014 after spotting a gap in the market.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I grew up in Sri Lanka during the civil war; hardly an upbringing of prosperity and opulence. We learnt to make the most of what we had, for which we were extremely grateful. Despite the fact that it wasn’t much, there was always a feeling that it was more than sufficient and we rarely spent time focusing on what was lacking. This school of thought has stayed with me and gives me an even deeper sense of appreciation for where I am now in my life and for the lifestyle we are fortunate to enjoy as a family. While growing up, I also witnessed many moments where my parents were endlessly generous with their money, which has also become a part of the way that I am. Although it’s a wonderful quality to have, one must be cautious to save as well.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

My first paid job was working for a well-known architectural firm in Sri Lanka, where I was paid a monthly salary equivalent to Dh127 a month, which did not even cover my monthly phone bill. Looking back, I realise that it is quite shocking yet admirable how many people around the world manage to survive on similar small amounts of money.

Are you spender or saver?

I am much more of a spender than a saver. As I get older and realise the importance of saving more and more, I continuously strive to change this. I am always careful to manage within my means and not get into debt.

What is your most cherished purchase, how much was it?

My dining table and chairs, which cost me Dh15,000. I bought it from Marina Home and Kartell in August last year.

Have you ever had a month where feared you could you not pay the bills?

There have been a few of those moments and months; but it has always been faith and hard work that have seen me through the tougher moments.

Where do you save your money?

In my bank account at the mom­ent. Every month I put aside an amount and treat it as an expense to make sure I do not miss out on saving for a particular month.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

For personal expenses, I always pay in cash as this ensures I can keep track of my spending and live off my income rather than overspending and living off borrowed cash (ie credit cards).

What has been your best investment?

My business is the best one I have made to date – I know it will pay off in the medium to long run.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Save, save and save some more. Even if it is a small amount, putting aside a sum of money at the beginning of the month means you will have some money to fall back on when the need arises.

Do you have a plan for the future?

I plan to focus on saving more each month and eventually investing the money further into my business and in property.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

Invest it in my brand. I know I have a unique, sought-after collection of products that parents want, need and love. If I was able to inject Dh1m of capital in production, I have no doubts that my business would flourish.

What would you raid your savings account for?

Anything that my family might need, within reason, and education – whether for me or my two daughters.

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