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40 Under 40 - Class of 2013
Business Observer Friday, Oct. 4, 2013 6 years ago

Sonika Fourie, 24

Interior Designer, The Schimberg Group Inc.

In job title Sonika Fourie is an interior designer, but in reality she’s a statistic flipper.

Here’s how Fourie came to that role: She graduated Ringling College of Art and Design with a bachelor’s degree of fine art in interior design in 2011. She promptly moved back to Orlando, the city she grew up in, where she took a job with a large architecture firm. But after a short time Fourie decided she didn’t want to live in Orlando anymore. The job, for one, was corporate and stifling.

So Fourie moved back to Sarasota earlier this year. She accepted a position at The Schimberg Group, an architecture and interior design firm where she interned for a semester while at Ringling. In doing so Fourie turned around the theory that young professionals who earn a degree locally leave town for better opportunities. Says Fourie: “There was just a lot more to offer (in Sarasota) for me than in Orlando.”

Fourie, who was born in South Africa and moved to the United States with her family when she was 9, has a lot going on now in her life, too. She’s engaged, with a wedding scheduled for November. She also designs her own jewelry, an entrepreneurial pursuit she hasn’t had much time for in the past few months.

Ringling College, further, did more for Fourie than provide a degree and the opportunity to work and live in Sarasota. Her experiences at Ringling, she says, gave her confidence and self-reliance. “I was always very introverted,” says Fourie. “It wasn’t until Ringling that I found a place where I belong.”

— Mark Gordon


City of residence: Sarasota

Twitter handle: @SonikaJewelry

Birthplace: Pretoria, South Africa

Years on the Gulf Coast: Five

Marital status/children: Engaged to be married in November. No children yet.

Coolest business experience: Last year a lighting manufacturer invited my coworkers and I on an all-expenses paid trip to Atlanta to tour its state-of-the-art design and manufacturing facility and see the city.

The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Learn to simulate confidence. Become aware of when you need to act like you know what you’re talking about, even if you don’t right at that moment. Also, do not let that confidence turn into arrogance.

One community group you’re most involved with: I get such joy out of mentoring students at Ringling College who are interior design majors. I visit as a guest speaker, attend critiques for presentation, and most recently have become involved in Ringling’s mentoring network, where I will be a mentor through email to any student or graduate who seeks ‘real world’ advice, portfolio feedback or wanting to practice interview skills.

Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: founder Robert Kalin and Marie Antoinette

If I had a magic wand I’d: Invent a technology to make weather 100% predictable. Imagine your smartphone showing you it will rain in exactly 13 minutes and 20 seconds in your exact location.


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