Alykhan Velji

Avenue Calgary’s 2010 Top 40 Under 40.

Job Title: Interior Decorator, Alykhan Velji Design

Age: 30

“I wake up every morning excited about helping people make their houses look well designed and timeless.”

Alykhan Velji isn’t one to give up. After graduating from Bow Valley College with a diploma in interior decoration in 2003, he started his own company, Alykhan Velji Designs. Business was bleak for the first few years, but he was never discouraged from his chosen career path.

“Everybody wants to have their own business; everybody wants to excel at what they do,” Velji says. “When I started my business, I didn’t have a client for two and half years, but I still kept on going. I started giving my card out to everybody I met and reminding myself that I couldn’t give up.”

Today, Velji’s hard work has paid off. The busy decorator always has several local and international residential projects on the go in which he helps people make their homes look good, doing everything from picking out the finishes to creating custom millwork. “I love what I do,” he says. “I wake up every morning excited about helping people make their houses look well designed and timeless.”

Velji has also given presentations on design trends at the Home and Interior Design Show for the past five years, and regularly appears on the national daily talk show CityLine to divulge similar advice. He has a bi-weekly feature on Virgin Radio 98.5 called the Style Guys, where he gives his thoughts on style and decor, writes monthly columns for New Home Living and Outlooks magazine and is working for the second year in a row as the lead designer for Citytv’s My RONA Home, a reality-TV show that follows two families in a competition to see who can best design, construct and decorate a brand-new home.

But it’s not just in front of the camera where Velji shines. This past summer, he worked with the Highbanks Society, a local organization that provides affordable housing and community support for young mothers, renovating and designing one of their apartments. While he had a budget to work with, Velji called upon his contacts in the industry to get all the materials for the two-bedroom apartment, kitchen, open-concept living room and bathroom donated by the suppliers he knows.

And, naturally, Velji took some time to give some fashion advice. “I also did a little ‘what not to wear thing’ for them, where I took them out shopping at Winners and gave them completely new outfits and makeovers, and taught them how to dress for success. That was really fun,” he says.

Why he’s the top: Since launching his own interior decorating company in 2003, Velji has become somewhat of a local media celebrity who is regularly called upon to provide decorating, design and fashion advice.

The key to his success: Constantly promoting himself. Along with his decorating business, Velji writes for magazines, and can be seen and heard on TV and radio where he gives decorating and fashion tips. “If you’re open to doing different things, that is really going to make you successful,” he says.

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