How To Turn Your Hobby Into A Business: From A To Z With Taliya Nurutdinova

One of the most popular tips on how to find your career path is to turn your hobby into your job. And that’s exactly what Taliya Nurutdinova did. Beginning with her love of art, Taliya owns an art studio in Kazan, Russia and gives kids and adults an opportunity to fulfill their dream of learning how to draw and paint, and she is only 20 years old! Taliya shares her experiences on the thorny path to starting a business and offers some tips about studying abroad.

How did you take up drawing?

It started with a music school. There was one near my elementary school, so my parents decided it would be good for me. Seven years later, I realized music was not my cup of tea. Then I signed up for art classes without even telling my parents. I passed the entrance exams, and that’s how I got into art.

Taliya in Milan

Why did you study in Scotland?

By the end of middle school I was in doubt as to whether I should stay for high school or apply to an Arts college. At that time, a former classmate had studied in Scotland and prepared for GCSE. We stayed in touch, and he gave such good reports on his education abroad that I decided to go for it. He told me it would be the opportunity of a lifetime and that I should apply to the school he had attended. That’s how I began the A-level course in the Gordonstoun School in Scotland.

Although now I feel I should have applied to a more art-oriented course rather than a business curriculum. My friend graduated from the school and continued his business journey. But I decided to quit and apply to a university in Russia. I found a consultant, and she explained that the UK was more suitable for those willing to pursue careers in Business, Economics, Math or Physics rather than Art and Design. So I graduated from high school in Russia when I was 18 and enrolled in a course at the Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering.

Internship in Milan

Do you think you changed during your year of A-level studies?

I’m sure I changed a lot during my studies in Scotland. When I arrived, my English wasn’t so good, and I didn’t have friends, so I had to act fast and make new friends to get beyond doodle. When you are away from your family, you may feel lonely, but what you really should do is relax and realize that there are so many opportunities that you shouldn’t be wasting time. It’s important not to retreat into your shell. I think that was my mistake in the beginning. I hung out mostly with other foreign students because I thought my English wasn’t good enough. That’s why natives thought of me as of a foreigner. When I felt comfortable talking in English, I managed to change their impression of me.

Did you have any awkward situations?

There was a moment when I had absolutely no clue to what people were saying. We went sailing, and we were taught how to clap on sails, etc. It was such specific vocabulary, and we had to do everything quickly. To top it all off, I was the only foreigner except for an Indian guy who had a band score of something close to 9.0 on IELTS exam. At that time I was shy, and I would start to blush. Now I would be more self-confident, for sure.

Classes in the studio

What is your advice for students who want to study abroad?

I advise studying abroad after graduating from high school. When you are 15, you are exposed to certain influences. Peers influence each other simply by the way they act, and teens at that age don’t even know what’s best for them. But when you’re 18 and older, you go abroad with your own mindset. It is important to stick to what you believe is right, because some people will try to knock the bottom out from under you. We always think it’s never going to happen to us. But miracles don’t happen.

Taliya after the internship in Milan

Tell us about the internship you took at a university in Milano.

I love exchange programs. That’s why I found NABA (Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti – eng. New Academy of Fine Arts). The internship was more of a summer school with classes. I noticed that designers in Italy were not used to drawing by hand, they were very amazed by the fact that one does it. 3D maquettes were more important to them.

Practical training in Milan

How did you start your own business? You said you had realized business was not your cup of tea after the first year of the A-level program, and now you have the Art Studio.

The Art Studio is not just business. It’s a business and an exercise in creativity at the same time. I was thinking about teaching, but I didn’t want to work for somebody on an already-established team. I have a background in Arts and Design, and I have my own principles. I think my trips abroad and internships contributed to this decision. So I thought: why not start my own business?

We are The Arts Studio “Solovei”. I have two members on my team. Umid and Anna are my main teachers. They are very talented. Umid currently has an internship in the Bureau of Architecture, and Anna has won an international competition in pictorial art.

Practical training in Milan

What are the skills businesspersons should have?

If you are in business, you must learn not to give up. There will be many moments when you are about to quit. Don’t let things run themselves, keep everything under control. When you invest time and energy, it pays off. Also, you’ve got to be persuasive. You need to learn how to sell your product. Why don’t restaurants, liquor stores, or hookah bars have problems with sales? Because people have a necessity to eat, drink, and smoke. But we don’t have a necessity to go and draw.

Participants of the summer school in Milan

What do you think about delegating work?

You must go through the work yourself first and then hire people. You must know the work so you know what to ask for. At this moment, I’m in charge of all administrative work in the studio as I haven’t yet found the right people for this job, people whom I can trust. If I make a mistake, it will be my fault, not someone else’s. I trust the teachers who work in my studio because I’m positive they will get the work done, that’s why I’m not interfering in the process. I hope that in the near future I’ll find an assistant.


Talia with a student from Brazil – internship in Milan

Do you think soft skills are necessary?

Absolutely! On the other hand, this is superficial knowledge. I think it’s essential to know the basics, because you’ll have to apply it later in your life. Surprisingly, you can apply everything you know later in life.

If you have at least one skill, something that you can share with people, it may help you to find a job in the future. I’d recommend finding something interesting and digging into it. Later you will be able to share it with others and earn money.

What motivates you?

Well, I’ve noticed that our habits control us. We wake up at 10 a.m. because it’s comfortable. On the other hand, it’s quite challenging to take up something new. Last year I took up yoga. I use the Nike app, and I really like it. If you convince yourself you like something, if you picture yourself fit, it works. When you visualize, the work gets done more easily.

Photos: Taliya Nurutdinova

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