Hetal Pawani, thejamjar | Be Your Own Boss

Hetal Pawani, Director of thejamjar, talks us through where her inspiration came from with her business in Dubai and some top tips for budding entrepreneurs.

About Hetal and thejamjar

I have been a resident of the UAE for 35 years. Dubai is home, where I went to school, university, where I made my closest friends and where my family is. I founded thejamjar in 2005 and have since been deeply invested in the arts. thejamjar over the years also gave birth to other initiatives such as ArtintheCity a project that includes a publication call the ArtMap and an annual tour organised by the ArtBus.  Since 2007 it started an art consultancy arm, now called 17A Art Consultants, a separate entity run by my awesome partner Lindsey Gildea. Through many gallery and artist collaborations between 2007 and 2010, we started Grey Noise, a contemporary art gallery in Alserkal Avenue, now run by my partner Umer Butt.

How did you come up with the concept for your business and at what point did you decide to make it a reality?

It happened very quickly. I was working for a family IT company in India. During a summer trip back to Dubai, my aunt Preeti Pawani, an artist, along with another friend of mine came up with the idea of having a hands-on space where people could touch, feel, make and ask their questions about art, especially painting with acrylics on canvas. The goal was to build audiences that would begin to appreciate the arts and get involved. We had only 2 active galleries back then.  With lots of support from family, I moved back and took the jump.

How long did it take for you to be profitable?

We were breaking even from Year 1 especially as we were a tiny operation when we started.

What was the best advice you ever received? worst advice?

Best: To focus on your key offerings.  Worst is to plan 5-10 years ahead.

Any training/book you would recommend?

Take a good social media course for business that teaches you how to position and strategise. Understand key performance indicators to measure success. Regular reporting and analyzing is healthy.

Since you’ve been through it, what would you tell someone starting out?

Keep it simple and if able, ensure you have sufficient cash flows.

Which statement best describes you:

A – I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.

B – She’s got that whole, “purpose-driven, change making, warrior princess, super mom” thing going on.

C – An entrepreneur isn’t someone who owns a business, it’s someone who makes things happen.

I would say definitely the last one!

Take us through a day in the life of Hetal Pawani

There is no typical day at thejamjar. At 10am we open our doors for the public, earlier for schools and corporate groups, and the day could transition into a group doing a photo or film shoot in our brightly lit project space, our residency artist continuing to make new work and experiment with materials in a space upstairs we call thecloud, jammers, including individuals and families, coming in for a DIY session or our workshops such as the Young Artist Programme, with the day ending in a screening of independent films. The weekends are full of family groups, workshops for all age groups and painting parties. Never a dull moment with the community coming in and out, interacting all through the day in a hundred ways.

Tips for Blossoming Entrepreneurs

Be ready to put everything you have – time, money energy. Aim to make the business independent of you and allow the brand to speak for itself.  Continuous learning and training are key. Watch those numbers. Invest in a good team.  Don’t try to do everything. Find balance soon enough or you could burn out.


thejamjar studio brings art alive in a relaxed environment, providing a platform for you to unleash your creativity with an unlimited supply of paint on canvas. The studio is equipped with easels, paints, art supplies, a coffee bar and music, providing a complete creative experience. thejamjar’s friendly and inspiring environment is perfectly suited for all age groups, families, teams and skill levels. Visit http://www.thejamjardubai.com/ to find out more about their community events and Spring Camp 2018.