Sushmita Jain ventured far outside of her comfort zone when she opened Aerolux Blinds’ first brick-and-mortar store. I caught up with Sushmita at her posh showroom, located at 59 Plum St. in the Greene Town Center.
Coming from a secure, corporate background, what made you want to become an entrepreneur?
I have worked corporate all my life and started feeling restricted by the structure and monotony. I wanted to explore my passion for creativity and artistry and experience the freedom of work and life with no boundaries. Owning my own business was a way to most closely dictate my destiny; where there is no one to answer to, no permissions to ask, and no one to say you can’t. I felt that once I achieved this, I could do anything.
How has balancing two cultures influenced your business and life?
I’ve never considered it as “balancing” two cultures, but rather benefiting from them. My Indian/American background has given me a strong foundation as far as values, work ethic and creativity, and I feel fortunate to always draw on the strengths of both. This global perspective expands my ability to offer diverse, innovative and creative designs to my customers.
Raised in Connecticut and schooled in Paris, you’ve traveled the world. Why stay in South Dayton?
I love the strong sense of family and community here, and I feel that we all need to continue building beautiful things where we live. I feel like South Dayton is a canvas with tremendous potential, and we need to offer here what people have access to in bigger cities. We need to offer stunning, upscale and high-quality products that are also local so that people stay here and don’t abandon it for the so-called “trendier” cities. I love that I offer the same product to my customers in Dayton that I install in the Maldives, Mauritius, Singapore and Dubai!
Outside of luxury homes, you’ve also outfitted high-end resorts. Tell us about one of your favorite projects.
Honestly, I don’t have a favorite. Whether it is one window in a small home or a high-end resort, my work is taking the current state and transforming it into something truly amazing, with vision and intuition, courage and confidence. For example, in the Maldives, our products are installed into magnificent tiki villas floating in the middle of the Indian Ocean. But when we arrive, it’s all sand and concrete with little narrow planks to walk over the sharks and manta rays swimming below us! We’re able to take this very raw, natural beauty and transform it into a space where people can truly experience paradise.
You’ve made a leap from the known to the unknown in your life’s journey. What did you learn about yourself in the process?
I’ve always had a tendency to lean on family, friends and colleagues thinking that my strength came only from other people. Instead of seeking validation from the outside and focusing on the external, I now rely on my own internal intuition and have developed the confidence and courage to follow it through.
Where do you see yourself in the future? What’s next on your bucket list?
I believe that everything I am doing right now is just stepping stones to something that has more meaning in life. For me, the ability to give back is my real measure of success. It's always been my dream to open a school in India for girls who would not have the opportunity to ever have an education. Once I've achieved that, I will truly know success!
"I love that I offer the same product to my customers in Dayton that I install in the Maldives, Mauritius, Singapore and Dubai!"