Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2016

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/730428

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Page 22 of 59

We Mean Business > d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m Fa l l 2 0 1 6 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 21 Nawal Motawi has balanced her artist's gift with business savvy to make Motawi Tileworks thrive Kimberley Olson N awal Motawi started making decorative ceramic tiles in her parents' garage studio and sell- ing them at a local farmers' market. Mo- tawi, who comes from a family of Ameri- can and Egyptian entrepreneurs, says business ownership is in her blood. Her companies, Motawi Tileworks and Rovin Ceramics (her former materials supplier), located in Ann Arbor, Michigan, employ 35 people and produce 10,000 square feet of tiles every year. Motawi tile is sold by 450 showrooms, galleries, and gift shops across the country. e company's distinctive, handcrafted American art tiles, known for their rich glazes and expert craftsmanship, can be absolutely fell in love with the ceramics people and with clay and glaze. at's how it happens with ceramics people. You kind of get caught. DW: And then you got a job at Pewabic Pottery. What was that experience like? NM: I majored in ceramics in college, and then I got a job at the famous Pew- abic Pottery, which was thrilling. After I'd been there awhile, the entrepreneurial DNA in me reared its ugly head, and I began to look at what they were doing and have opinions. ere's a certain person who says, "Hey, I can do that. In fact, I've got a better idea for it." I became restless. I wanted to be my own boss. DW: What were those first few years in business like? NM: ere was no money, so it was all about effort. I was trying to figure out how I could get the tile out to the world and what product I could make that I could actually sell. The Art of Business CEO Woman found in private homes, libraries and uni- versities, and public parks. e company's installation designers even create custom designs for customers, from fireplace surrounds to kitchen backsplashes. Motawi Tileworks' many fans include Wil- liam H. Macy, David Letterman, and Ste- ven Spielberg. We talked to Nawal about her design inspiration, what she's learned from Toy- ota, and balancing art and business. Diversity Woman: How did you get interested in ceramics and tile making? Nawal Motawi: [In art school at the University of Michigan], I signed up for fibers and sculpture and ceramics, and I

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