Arch. Vesela Miryanova: There is no better weapon against fear and hate than faith and love!


Interview of Arch. Vesela Miryanova for the new "24 hours" project and "Women who make a difference”.

I was born in Sofia, I grew up amidst conversations about construction and architecture, which became the basis of my way of thinking and the knowledge acquired at the Construction Technical School and the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy.

For better or worse, I've always been the type of good girl who puts doing her chores first and can put the fun on hold. Now I look at all the excellent marks, diplomas, and gold medals with a smile, but without irony or regret.

My belief in the power of the exact sciences has never contradicted my awareness of the spiritual dimensions of our lives. My belief in God is in harmony with the rules of life and ethics that I have always followed. I don't have to memorize God's commandments; I feel them as if they are written in my heart. I believe, I know, I strive to live by them. Maybe I'm too straightforward, too predictable, but living for the moment, the adrenaline rush, the gleeful madness of breaking the rules doesn't seem to be in my nature.

In return, though, I have never stopped fighting against the word "or" and have often replaced it with “and”. Why should we choose between "math or literature" when we could choose "math and literature" instead? I reconciled my attraction to science, math, and blueprints with my love of art recitals, poetry, and literary contests. Fervent love and serious study; career and family. It's easier with "or", the effort is less, but with "and" our lives are richer, more meaningful, and valuable.

What values does your company profess and what is your professional mission?

Come and see them! ARTEKS values are not something that can be read or heard. They are materialized in our work. They can be seen, touched, and inspected - especially in their daily inhabitation. Get in my car and tell me the address of any ARTEKS building, built any year you choose.

ARTEKS is a quality: all-embracing, all-pervading, unshakable in time. A quality that proves itself with every inch of what is made: from the foundations to the top.

ARTEKS is creation and creativity.

ARTEKS is a promise fulfilled. Our signature, the building's plaque, guarantees that everything in and around it was done with integrity, with good faith, with our highest dedication, and is forever.

And one other thing: the details. The detail for ARTEKS is not "some detail". Our company puts people at the centre of everything: tracking their day and guessing their needs. Then it describes the dwelling, and the buildings around it, in such a way that it is a serene and pleasant home. Every detail is subordinated to the concept of ease of living and beauty of life.

At ARTEKS we have inherited from the old masters a moral code. According to it, you build your name and honour into everything you create! That is why for us, honour and the pursuit of excellence and impeccable quality are not just promises, but a way of life- the solid foundation on which our company stands!

Why did you choose this field to pursue a career - what attracts you, challenges you, provokes you? At what point did you realize this was the right direction?

Architecture, in my opinion, is the only form of beauty that provides a sense of security. It shelters a person; it brings people together with their loved ones. It creates a small world in the big one. What better thing could I do than to be part of such a process? I know in detail everything involved in designing and realizing a building, but I felt that my place at ARTEKS would be in having direct contact with clients. There is a perfect balance between romance and pragmatism in my work: people come with their dream of a happy home, and ARTEKS offers the key.

There are difficulties, of course, but in every moment, I know that what I am doing is valuable. This is the reason why I walk into the office every morning feeling joyful and confident.

How has business changed during the pandemic? What did you learn about your company and colleagues during this emergency?

DIAMOND 2, AVIGEA, HARMONY, SIYANIE - ARTEKS has added these buildings to the "emergency" list. I mean, we didn’t stop, we have been building! In the uncertain 90s, in the crisis around 2008, in the pandemic, and now we are building. The quality, the guarantees for the customers - that's a constant. What is new in the latest review is the growing interest in what used to be seen as a curiosity, a nice extra. Now the focus is on the health aspect. The Mountain Fresh Air Recuperation System, photocatalytic building materials, antibacterial coatings, and systems that prevent cross-infection in confined spaces - such things are now of great interest. ARTEKS has the foresight, professionalism, and expertise to offer the latest tools to ensure a healthy environment.

About the team? In times of crisis, I know one thing: they can be relied upon. Together we can achieve all that ARTEKS believes in and offers to others.

How do you deal with those who unknowingly hinder the success of the company and your team, actively harm it, or simply do nothing? Do you let people go easily?

It is not easy, it is even painful, but I do it without hesitation. I am uncompromising about the standards of work at ARTEKS. Removing such a person is also a matter of respect for the whole team. No one is obliged to make up for the irresponsibility of another with their work.

Could you tell two stories - one where you won a professional battle due to being a woman and another where you lost because you are a woman?  

I win professional battles with who I am: my conviction, my sincerity, my philosophy, my vibe. In every battle, in every conversation, we have not only a physical presence but a spiritual one. I, as a businesswoman, influence not only with my vision and professional qualities but also with the messages I send for good and beauty, for harmony and goodwill, for integrity, i.e. I bring, "whirl" in every professional meeting or transaction virtuous energy and positivity. This is how I win!

And as for losing a professional battle because I'm a woman...yeah, let's just say I'm hardly the only businesswoman that the businessman across the street falls in love with...and since I don't reciprocate the stated feelings...I need to withdraw...

They say the first million is the hardest. It's not just about money. What is your "first million", your big win?

When they stopped Zlaten Vek and the media noise became deafening, my son stood next to me and gathered the ARTEKS team. Two hundred people climbed onto the slab of one of our tall buildings, put on helmets, and said, "We don't want to protest, we want to work." In the video, in the eyes of these people and my son, I felt that spirit of struggle, of unity, of support, of confidence in our rightness, which I needed at this difficult and painful moment. My joy as a leader, as a mother, and as someone who believes that ARTEKS is the cause of professionalism, responsibility, and loyalty were intertwined. This confidence that the roots of ARTEKS are so secure and strong that no storms can bring us down - that was "my million", the greatest gain from my work. Profit has not only a material but also a spiritual dimension in our lives.

How and from whom do you learn to manage?

I don't have an idol in business, I don't "adore" this or that book for managers. But I am increasingly aware of how much I owe to the example of working women before me. The best of them combine pragmatism and humanity in both spheres: work and family. In my view, women see the "big picture" and keep things in perspective. You can't buy a "big plasma" if the kids need shoes; an employee who seems downtrodden should be talked to humanly first, not told to get it over and pull themselves together... This blending of concern for today with caring for tomorrow, of concern for each person with caring for everyone - I hadn't even realized how "feminine", how wise, and how forward-looking this approach is. Business is a "building ground" of creativity (even when it's not architecture), not an arena for "hitting" and our urge to do good things is the very core of creativity! And we all know that Creativity is impossible without love - that great force that illuminates our life's path and blesses us with a new life and new good deeds. It is with this feeling that I think of my team, my clients, ARTEKS, and my loved ones.

What is the business of the future that you will be interested in developing and proving yourself in?

My dream is for ARTEKS to be the first company in the country to start building houses and buildings entirely out of wood and environmentally friendly materials, as well as with new innovative systems to manage a healthy environment inside the home. Thousands of years of experience can be combined with the engineering and architectural excellence of recent decades, especially in wood and natural materials in general.

Green, protected, healthy - these three words are key to ARTEKS' vision for future homes with our brand that will be good for our customers and good for nature.

Where and how did you learn the formula for a healthy family if you know it?

With the marriage, two people agree to sit in one boat and get one oar each. Neither can transfer theirs to the other, nor take over his partner’s. Each must give 100% - willingly, lovingly, and joyfully. However, partners must remember that they can put no more than 50% of what the boat needs to sail forward.

How does a busy woman raise her children and what is most important to her in communicating with them?

Love and demanding, I don't know any other way. I have always kept my children busy: with games, sports, and all sorts of school subjects and interests. I have always avoided keeping them inactive, hanging around, and putting off things that need to be done.

Just not inactivity, hanging around, and putting off things that need to be done.

And otherwise, the time spent on purposeful education, on any kind of teaching, is somewhat wasted. A personal example is the foundation of education; it is both the model and the perspective. Children do not absorb 'teachings' and 'wisdom', they look at actions. My son and daughter grew up around working parents- they "drew" projects, ran around newly constructed buildings, and saw that work is both a responsibility and a joy and satisfaction. They have seen a good example! Not words and "teachings" but deeds, real actions.

What did you take as an example from your parents to move forward and what from their experience did you give up?

I've certainly inherited my father's demanding nature.

How and where can a successful and famous woman find the right man for the right relationship?

As a 16-year-old girl, I met a 17-year-old boy, Plamen (my husband), and never had to look again.

How do you feel about a man being intimidated by a strong woman? Do you try to calm him down, fool him, or take charge of the relationship?

You see, I love excitement and challenges, but I can't stand playing games. Both in personal and business contacts I value clarity and honesty, the seriousness of a given word. Someone who scares someone, some role of comforters or seducers, I mean manipulation - why all this? What is needed is openness, clarity, and consideration for the other person. Here I quote Mother Teresa: 'Honesty and openness will make you vulnerable. Behonestandopen, nomatterwhat".

Many women rethink their lives at a certain age and make a sharp turn, giving up things they otherwise had difficulty achieving. What would lead you to such a "burnout"?

In my opinion, a woman reconsiders her life not concerning some age, but when a loved one betrays her. Betrayal creates the feeling of the so-called burnout, and that feeling comes with the burning of that bridge of trust that has been built over the years.

When did you first enter the kitchen, when are you entering now and what is your culinary calling card? 

Like most women - after I got married. The recipe for beef stew with carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and grated nutmeg never fails me.

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self and what would you give up if you had today's experience and wisdom?

I once had coursework in "Visual Media in Architecture" in which we had to colour a perspective of a building with a technique of our choice: watercolour, oil, pastel, graffiti... I knew that my strength was not in that, and to compensate for my missing skills, I chose the technique of pointillism: dot to dot. I can still see those dots shimmering before my eyes. I worked for days, and my only fear was that a moment of inattention might bring me back to a huge new sheet. There's no point in telling this 20-year-old girl to dump it all because my 20-year-old self won't do it right either! I'll wait for myself to finish and tell - in my firmest tone - to get up and to godo some sport because a person needs to have a responsibility not only to their studies but also to care and love themselves!

If you lost everything you have achieved, what would you do?

I would continue working. Whatever happens, at the end of the day, we are what we do. Not what we think of ourselves, not what others think of us. As long as we have our life, health, and energy, we cannot lose all that we have achieved because it is also within us: knowledge, experience, resilience, and self-mastery. However, if I had to make a general change of direction, I would work with children, with young people in general. I have knowledge, experience, and hope that I can be useful in educating young people. Strength of spirit, based on love, on faith in goodness, and on all those Christian values of behavior, faith, love, and goodness-bring together not nurture that? What better weapon against the spirit of hate and fear? 

Who have you helped so far and what charitable cause would you or do you support?

We help in specific cases, without advertising, of course. I am particularly interested in helping young people who are building their future by returning to Bulgaria. To support their education (here or abroad), to make it easier for them to buy a quality home here in their homeland in which to raise their children - this is my mission, as well as that of our family foundation "Our Home is Bulgaria", set up by my son.

What is humanity for you?

Humanity, this ability to put oneself in another's shoes, I think is a gift, it is innate. At the same time, I am convinced that it must be expressed in actions. A delicate but decisive action that can lessen someone's pain, can help the person to find the strength, the courage and to stand up. Pity, the pain of someone else's suffering is only sentimentality if some actions are not taken. I am reminded of how in some countries neighbors leave containers of homemade food at the door of people who have lost a loved one. This is again an expression of sympathy, but it is a real action, real help.

What is your definition and explanation of success - yours and other people's??                                              

There is no permanent success without qualities, work, efforts, without a strong spirit, because permanent success is a marathon.

At the same time, however, success is also linked to a blessing from above, as part of the great Divine plan. It is a great temptation to think that our success is the result only of our work and personal qualities. It would be arrogant. Our success is always, like everything in our lives, good or bad, at the mercy of God, by his will.

How will you convince Bulgarians that it is time to stop hating the successful and the rich?

It is not about the attitude towards one group of people or another. Both negative and positive feelings are universal, not national; they are inevitable. If someone hates you, he is also teaching you something, paradoxically: to understand, to be patient, to be humble. In this way, those whom we consider enemies also become our teachers. In the difficult communication with them, we climb one more step of our spiritual growth. Otherwise, we look at every emotion as something we send out into the universe, and it comes back like a boomerang. As the title of a book by a monk from Mount Athos says, "As our thoughts are, so is our life." If we feel hatred, that is what we feel, we are unhappy. If we feel love and gratitude, we receive blessing, peace, and joy!

What are the "little joys" that you treat yourself to? At the end of the day, which is more valuable: being successful or being happy?

Successful and happy – it is just a state, you can't keep it forever. Lasting, though, is the good feeling that what you're doing is meaningful.

At the end of the day what brings me joy is to light a few candles when I get home. The flame itself fills me with peace, humility, and hope. It's as if I'm lighting, in my imagination, the living lights of good on earth...

Link to the interview