Entrepreneur, social worker, philanthropist, homemaker, dutiful daughter-in-law, star wife, mother, and now and interior designer. Mana Shetty is truly a multi-faceted woman. Though she is star-actor Suniel Shetty’s wife, she has carved an identity of her own. Not only does Sunil appreciate his wife’s creativity and business acumen, he encourages and supports her in everything she does. Whether it is a business venture or a charitable cause, they together work in perfect harmony. Mana’s priorities and heart is in the right place. She is driven by her work and her charity Araaish, but home and family always comes first. and that has stood her in good stead. Reliable, trustworthy and efficient are some adjectives that friends and clients use to describe her. The girl who used to design private collections under the brand Mana & Isha, along with her sister Isha, at 15, has certainly come a long way today. Read on as she talks about her new project...
Our home is R House
The store was something that I had planned a decade ago but then I wasn’t ready for it. A year-and-a-half ago R House just happened. I was stagnating and I needed to challenge myself. Suniel had this beautiful space in Worli which we remodelled into a home lifestyle showroom called R House. It is spread over two floors with an outdoor space and offers a wide range of artifacts, gift and accessories, lighting, interior and outdoor solutions and diverse furniture in classic and contemporary styles. Each piece has been handpicked personally by Suniel and me and our USP is our affordable pricing. We are also proud to say 80 per cent of our furniture is Indian and the rest from across the globe. This year we are taking a step further by offering our customers online shopping experience. We launch our website this Tuesday. This was all new to me. I just went with my gut feeling… Suniel had more trust in me. After I did up our home in Khandala he felt that I have that sense of design and styling of my own. I have grown up in an environment which developed my style sense. My dad IM Kadri is a renowned architect has created landmark projects in Mumbai and all over India. My brother is an architect too, while my sister is an interior designer. I have been surrounded by the finer things in life. I feel your taste is a reflection of your creativity and style.
My new project: Designing homes
The S2 project, comprising of a commune of 21 villas developed on a seven-acre estate. It has been conceptualised by Suniel and his sister Sujata Hegde. The architecture is by Alan Abraham (John’s brother) and the interiors of the villas are designed by me. These villas have been designed as a part of a gated community of luxurious second homes, bought either for investment, a vacation home, or retirement, but are so beautiful that they often become a first home of choice. One sample villa has been done by me. The idea is: We build and furnish. If the buyers like what I have done, I can also furnish their villa. We provide everything from towels to bath mats and bed sheets so one can just move into the villa with just their suitcases of clothes.
Save the children
When mom (Vipula Kadri) passed away in 2007 she gave to my brother, sister and me the legacy of our NGO Save The Children India. It’s a 25-year old, non-profit organisation founded by our mother. I not only take care of all aspects in the premises of the school but am also trying to build on the legacy of blending philanthropy with glamour. I am on the board of trustees for Save The Children India. I had reached a stage where I was more at peace with myself and ready to give back to society. The whole experience has changed me as a person and I feel immense gratitude to my mom for passing on such a beautiful legacy to us. It has made me calmer and made me realise how much we have it in all of us to do something for others. We are in a position to make a difference to the lives of other people. Initially, I was overwhelmed though Sunil and I had worked with mom. We have amazing staff — people who had been with mom with 25 years. I have learned so much since.
It is a fundraising exhibition for Save The Children India. It has come a long way. What began in 2007 with its first show in Mumbai as a tribute to my mom, today it has become the epitome of excellence and attracts the country’s most coveted designers displaying their collections. Araaish has traveled to Delhi, Hyderabad and Dubai, and is hosting its 32nd show in Mumbai on February 25. Whatever we make, goes straight to Save The Children India. For our first show we were praying that at least 100 people would show up when we had 5,000 wonderful ladies come in. Today, we have a footfall of over 7,000 women for Araaish. It’s amazing!
I am happy when my family is happy. Like today Athiya’s dream is happening so what more can I ask for? When Ahaan starts living his dream and I’m a part of it that will make me happy too. I am mother before anything else and my kids are truly my life. My family is the most important thing for me. Mom was the kindest soul I ever knew and whatever I could I have learned from her in small ways. Her dignity, sensitivity, sense of beauty – I owe everything to her.I miss her every minute of my life… I miss her every morning… She was my besest friend. But I know that she’s there with me, guiding me every step of the way.
My own identity
I have never thought of myself as a star wife. It wasn’t a conscious decision but I just feel that though it’s fabulous being Mrs Suniel Shetty, I am my own person. I am still the Mana people knew me years ago. People say I am still so accessible and down-to-earth, but why would that change? Suniel has still stayed so humble. It’s our upbringing and character. We don’t get overwhelmed by the trappings of success. I do attend some filmi parties but I don’t belong to any camp. In the film industry Suniel is known as anna (elder brother) and that says a lot. While star wives hate other star wives they have always supported me in whatever I have done. It’s been a fabulous relationship with whoever I know.
Suniel… My soulmate
Ah! The best topic for me to talk on… I have known him for 31 years. I met him when I was 17 years old and he was trying to woo me at Pastry Palace in Napean Sea road. He was having tea. It took a while for me to fall in love with him. After we started dating each other we had to wait for nine years to get married as he came from a close-knit Bunt family and they thought I wouldn’t be able to adjust to their lifestyle. We didn’t get married till they accepted me into the family.
Multitasking and me!
I don’t know how I manage to do so many things… It just happens. I have a fabulous and dedicated team and we are on the same wave length so that makes it so much easier. I begin my day with some ME time. One needs it to rejuvenate and get your thoughts in order to focus. I am an early riser so I get up up at 6.30 am and after sending Ahaan to school I go to the gym for a work out. Suniel has chalked out a beautiful program for me and I love it. It has cardio and weights and energizes me. I leave for the store by 11 am. I manage because I have days chalked out for certain work. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I visit Save The Children India office, Mondays is for marketing, Wednesday for product lines and Fridays and Saturdays for emails and vendors. One has to be organized and plan things. After everyone is home we chill. I love to cook too because it’s so therapeutic. I love feeding my family and good food. Work is really imp in our lives but one should not be a workaholic and forget everything else. My cut off point from work is 4 pm when I shut the books and say I’m going home. Spending time with my family is very important for me.