Business Name: Touijer Designs/Interior Design-Construction-Renovations
Length of time in business: 9 yrs
Family info: Married to Karim Touijer
2 kids: Son 17: Rayan
Daughter 15: Zahra
Pets: dog: Charlotte
Before this, what was your career? MRI/CT technologist for 10 yrs
What do you love most about what you do now?
My favorite thing about what I do now is the variety of things I do from day to day. I make my schedule about a week in advance and love seeing what I have planned for the week. If I had to do the same thing every day, I would not be a happy camper.
What did you have to do to start?
For me to start my own business, I needed clients. I didn’t have a portfolio to show people so I started with projects, one by one. Over time, I developed the design portfolio I needed to show my skill set but by then word of mouth took over.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced? How did you overcome that challenge?
Time management has been my biggest challenge. I could easily work 10 hours a day on design work because I love what I’m doing and the to-do list just keeps getting longer.
I had to learn how to step away from the design work and shut it down for the night. You have to be able to disconnect from your work at the end of the day or you’ll burn out, mentally and physically.
What is the thing that has surprised you?
It’s surprising how much I learn every day about interior design and related fields. I can say confidently that I’m excited to always be learning, growing, and becoming a better designer than I was yesterday.
What is your best tip for fellow entrepreneurs?
My best tip is to research how successful people in your career field are doing things and learn from them.
How has the virus impacted your business?
There was an initial slow down at the onset of the virus but that changed once people started staying home more, noticing areas or rooms they wanted to redesign. I’m pretty much booked up until January 2022 with projects.
What are some alternative careers you would have liked to have?
I have no desire for alternative careers. I found my passion and wouldn’t give it up for anything.
Do you have advice regarding reinventing yourself? What do you think is important for other moms to know?
Wow. This is a great question. This is something I’ve dug really deep into personally. Some people would call it reinventing themselves. I like to think of it more as a rediscovery or an awareness of yourself. My advice to mothers, including myself, is to maintain a sense of self-identity. How do we do that? Well, I think we need to ditch the mom guilt. I’m sure a lot of women had dreams before kids. Don’t let those go just because you’ve become a mother.
It’s also important to have great friends that you can rely on and confide in. These have to be inner circle people, your ride or die type of friend who is there for you in times of happiness, sadness, you name it, they are there.
The last piece of advice is to be kind to yourself. When your inner negative dialogue starts running through your head, acknowledge them and then let those thoughts go. Go easy on yourself. You’ve assumed the hardest role in the world, motherhood. It’s something to be proud of but it shouldn’t define you.
How did you get involved with George To The Rescue?
Here’s a funny story. I didn’t really know much about George or the show. A friend had mentioned something about the show and the good things they were doing to help people out. I reached out to the producers and they liked the story about the food pantry.
Is this your first time working with George? What was it like?
The first time I met George was the first day of filming. The crazy thing is that I didn’t know who he was. George shows up and says hi and I’m like “who is that guy.” To this day, George teases me about it. Working with him was THE BEST time I ever had with doing DIY projects. I got to use power tools (love), build furniture, hand paint a logo, basically fulfill all my DIY dreams. And I had an excellent partner right beside me. It was DIY heaven. I should actually call it DIT: Do It Together. I can tell you firsthand that George really believes in what he’s doing. He’s a whirlwind of goodness that rubs off on you and his Tasmanian style energy is infectious. I do another project with him in a heartbeat.
Why did you choose Bread of Life for this project?
I really wanted to help out a local person or business that could benefit from a “rescue." Once you’ve seen the food pantry in action and understand how many people’s lives they touch, it was only natural to want to help and make Sherri and Pasquale’s panty more efficient, organized, and safe.
What was the renovation process like?
I can’t tell you how much I love renovations. And this one was a fun one. The pantry was cleared out before we got there. We had predesigned the space, in advance, utilizing zones that were color-coded. Organization and flow were the keys to making this space a smooth-running machine. The renovation included a little bit of demo. We knocked down the wall between the current break room and the main space. George was generous in letting me release some stress with a sledgehammer. I’d like to say my swings helped bring down the wall but you’ll see in the episode George assumed that role. He was there to rescue and we were happy to oblige. All construction material was ordered and delivered to the site. And then we went to work.
What is George like?
I had to really think about this because I don’t want to give George a big head with all of my compliments. Lol. Once you’ve met George, it’s easy to see why people gravitate towards him. I include myself with those people. When you’ve met someone who believes so strongly in giving back, who is engaging and exuberant and always strives to give his best, you’ve met an exceptional human being. I’m proud to call him my friend.
What have you learned in the process of working at Bread of Life?
It takes very special people to do what Sherri and Pasquale do. They have devoted their lives to giving back with this panty. They are such an integral part of the Rye community and really change lives with their generosity and dedication. I think what I’ve learned most by helping out the few times I did on pantry day and seeing it in action is the importance of community. I’m so impressed by the people who would show up, rain or shine. Not just adults but teenagers and kids. I saw young kids there who were so excited to help out. And they understood the reason why they were doing it. I commend all of those parents who are instilling kindness and goodness in their children from a young age.
Did you encounter any problems during the renovation process?
We did have a few minor hiccups during the renovation process, which you probably won’t see in the episode. One of the bigger ones was the plumbing pipe near the laundry area. While it was being sanded, George noticed a crack in the pipe. It had to be addressed so we called in the plumbing cavalry. Problem solved.
Any behind the scenes stories you can share?
There was one thing that happened that was a little crazy and funny after the fact. The carpenter was cutting 2x4’s for the shelving and whenever he’d bring the saw blade down, it would make a metal grinding noise. George comes over and starts looking at the saw and trying to figure out what’s going on. He takes his pliers, reaches down into the cutting blade groove, and pulls out a metal fork. How crazy is that?