How a Love of Interior Design Driven a Man to Freelance | The new times

Life can come with its many struggles, but surely when you love something, no matter how hard you find yourself, you end up doing what you love, if it excites you.

This is the story of Phenias Ndahimana, who is making a name for himself in Kigali as a creative interior designer, giving houses a unique and refined touch, different from what we have known for many years.

The 30-year-old Integrated Polytechnic Regional College of Ngoma (IPRC Ngoma) graduate did not let the vulnerable conditions and life challenges he encountered derail his dream.

After studying auto mechanics, Ndahimana chose his passion for creative art and design over an oil-soaked suit and wrench, though he wasn’t sure whether to make customers believe what he was doing. he can do with his hands.

“For me, creative art and design is a talent that I believe I was born with. Even when I was studying mechanics, I mainly focused on repairing and decorating the interiors of cars so that they look beautiful.”

“Over time, I started to think and focus more on interior design. Honestly, I can’t explain how I ended up in this field either, that’s why I think it’s is a gift,” says Ndahimana.

He saw himself more in the field of interior design than what he studied in school, but more importantly, it sparked his innovation and creativity.

“I’ve always loved being creative with wood products and tree trunks. I believe we can do a lot with them. So I look for them, some I buy locally and others like ‘Muvura’ come from DR Congo,”

“I then have fun with them and imagine different interior and exterior decorative objects that I sell to my customers. I target clients with family houses and small apartments for singles,” says Ndahimana.

A desire to be independent

Rather than jumping from garage to garage looking for a job. Ndahimana wanted to do something he loves and make a living from it.

“I would say I started making money from my craft in 2020 and I haven’t looked back. I was driven by the desire to be independent and grow as a person and also to do something that adds value to my country.

“When I started, I realized that a lot of people were interested in interior design and I thought to myself, why not make a career out of it? I want young people to understand that this is something you can do on your own, starting small, as long as you are passionate,” says Ndahimana.

From decoration, Ndahimana now ventures into larger wooden products such as doors, windows, gates as well as small decorative items. He is also able to advise clients on interior design as they build.

Not a smooth ride

It has not been a journey without obstacles. The biggest challenge he faces so far is customers who don’t understand the value of interior design, and many are unwilling to spend on sprucing up the inside and outside of their homes.

Even those who seem to understand want to pay less, not to mention the time invested. The uniqueness of Ndahimana comes from the fact that it does not alter the natural shape of the wood, but rather focuses on enhancing its beauty.

This means that he puts a lot of effort into preserving and maintaining the quality and details of the product. Business is also volatile – sometimes he has many clients and other times they run out.

Given the quality and unique approach, he also struggles to get the quality wood he desires. Sometimes he finds the wood but it is not dry enough and his trade depends on fully seasoned wood to ensure that the products change shape when they dry.

“As you may know, wood changes shape when it dries. Customers can get really angry when the product changes shape over time. For example, a door can warp if it is made of wood that is not yet dry,”

“So I always have a challenge to make sure I have dried wood somewhere and the drying takes a really long time,” Ndahimana says.

Born into a family of loggers, Ndahimana believes that when parents support their children’s talent, they can make it something they can live off of. As a child, he was supported by his parents to make things out of things.

His uncle, also a lumberjack, helped him get started. Today, Ndahimana employs five people permanently and hires between three and five non-permanent employees depending on the contracts he has.

“Regardless of client volatility, I can say this is a profession that sustains me and many other people I hire. I challenge young people not to be afraid and to go out and pursue their dreams. Ndahimana said.

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Betty K. Park