Money&Me: Future is secure thanks to 'Irish Guilt'

Kristian Stimson¿s father-in-law encouraged him to pursue his dreams as an entrepreneur.

Kristian Stinson's father-in-law encouraged him to pursue his dreams as an entrepreneur. Antonie Robertson / The National
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Kristian Stimson and his wife, Emma, set up their interior architecture design company in Dubai in May. Called Studio EM, Mr Stimson, from Ireland, says it was the death of his father-in-law that helped to give them the courage and inspiration to go it alone. Despite the hard work and cost of setting up their company, the couple see it as a way to ensure their financial future.

Describe your financial journey so far.

My financial journey began at a very young age. My dad helped to teach me early on in life that if I wanted something, I had to go out there and get it. This started off when I was nine and wanted a pair of goalkeeper gloves for football. My dad got me a job delivering newspapers on my bike to the neighbours for a whopping £7.50 (Dh43.57 at today's rate) a week. For me, though, this was mega money. Since then, my journey has been up and down more times than an Emirates Tower elevator.

Are you a spender or a saver?

Definitely a saver. Due to my background, I suffer strongly from "Irish Guilt". I reckon that in the past two years, I have queued up for an iPad at least 10 times and every time before getting to the till I have talked myself out of it by saying, "Do I really need this?"

What is your philosophy towards money?

Very simple: to save it! I don't believe in credit or credit cards, I don't believe in instalments or monthly payment plans or any of those financial traps. For me, it is very black and white. If I can't afford it, I don't buy it. If I can afford it, I have to need it. Some may say it is miserly, but since being married my philosophy has changed. What I save today, I can spend in the future on the things that really matter, such as (hopefully) education for my children, or health care for my wife and a flight home to see my brother and my dad if they need me or I need them.

What has been your most valuable financial lesson?

Recently, my father-in-law died from pancreatic cancer. The past year was a huge struggle. Terry worked his entire life; he came from an average home in Wigan, in the UK, in the 1970s and moved to Dubai. He never forgot where he was from or who he was when others around him did. He spent his entire life working to provide and to care for his family. He once told us that he could accept death and face it because he knows that when it came, he knew his family would be financially stable and taken care of. This was a huge lesson to me, to always think and plan for the future because you never know what will happen.

Why did you decide to set up your own business?

My father-in-law's death was the catalyst. We had always wanted to set up on our own, but circumstances encouraged us to do it a bit sooner than we thought. Emma, my wife, and I both quit our jobs to be with Terry during those last few weeks in April this year. I often spoke to Terry about having my own business and as an entrepreneur himself, he always encouraged us to follow suit. He believed in his daughter's skill and talents and probably thought I was an able sidekick. After the dust had settled following his death, we had to think about getting new jobs. We then thought: "Life is too short, why not work for ourselves, honour Terry and really go for it!" He was our inspiration and our biggest motivator.

Where did the idea for Studio EM come from?

The name itself is after Emma. She is the real talent and genius behind what we do. The EM in Studio EM is Emma. Emma has been working in interior architecture and design in Dubai for the past six years and I have been working in business development in the same industry. It's actually where we met. Emma became increasingly frustrated at having to reign in her creativity when working for another company and was tired of doing "copy and paste" design on projects. She wanted to have more creative control and to work with smaller retailers or restaurateurs or cinema clients to create inspiring and talked-about spaces rather than simply recreating the same concept for a 10-store roll-out. So we thought the best way to do that was to work for ourselves and to go out there and find new clients and start creating new and exciting spaces.

Have you experienced any financial difficulties along the way?

Our main difficulty has been sacrifice and planning for the future. Studio EM was set up to help secure our future. I look at my dad as inspiration. He plans everything up to a year in advance, be it holidays or new cars. I now do the same. So when we get money in, we have to sacrifice our desire to spend it on meals out or holidays and put it away for our kids for the future.

* Felicity Glover