SHAH ALAM, Nov 15 — Sometimes life throws you a curveball and the next thing you know, as Lisha Sahar can attest to, you end up doing something different from what you had planned.
Lisha wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a pilot. Today, she runs her own company Lishasahar Furniture with her husband Zarulaliff Zulkifli.
After Lisha graduated from secondary school, she got her pilot’s licence. She worked as a pilot for a year before she got married. Subsequently she took a break and with the birth of her children, she never got back to her pilot’s job.
Even the young couple’s venture into making custom furniture started out by accident. Last year, they had participated in a popular food bazaar FoodGasmFest where they were selling meatballs.
As part of their booth’s setup, they had designed and made their own furniture. “People started asking about our furniture and from then on, we started making furniture.” Lisha’s first piece was a table for the bazaar. Since then, they have sold all the pieces they made for the bazaar.
Lisha said she picked up her woodworking skills through the Internet and watching YouTube videos. The self-taught woodworker honed her craft through trial and error. “We both started with a basic saw and drill. Now, we have all sorts of equipment to make more furniture,” she said.
The business is also supported strongly by Lisha’s parents, who allowed their home to be turned into the couple’s workshop. In fact, Lisha’s mother who loves to paint, also helps them out on occasion with the painting of their items.
The couple source for their raw materials locally. Since their pieces are all custom made, most of their materials are dictated by their client’s needs. “We get our wood from the local factory. Since we do custom work, it is based on what the customer wants. If they want reclaimed pine then that’s what we use. Some of them request for oriented strand board (OSB) so we also have those,” said Lisha.
Lishasahar Furniture has made a cat cage, children’s playhouse, signages, backdrops for weddings and events, furniture, and other types of custom designs. For the recent FoodGasmFest, they even produced a lemonade stand for one of the vendors.
A lot of her customers include newlyweds who are moving in to their new homes, people who join bazaars and need portable furniture, new boutique owners who need display cabinets, and cafes that need signage.
Lishasahar Furniture also handcrafts light fixtures like the halo lamps for DESIGNation, an idea that came from Lisha’s husband. The lamps have a light ring attached to a pine wood base. Two varieties were offered at the shop, one with a glow in the dark feature.
Following their introduction, the halo lamps are now sold out. In the future, Lisha hopes to produce more than just lamps for the independent store in Publika that supports Malaysian designers.
“Currently, my favourite thing to make is a patterned top as a tabletop,” said Lisha. She draws inspiration for the intricate designed tabletops from Instagram, where she follows women woodworkers like Aleksandra Zee (@aleksandrazeen) from San Francisco and Brianna Land (@brianna_land) who does reclaimed wood furniture in Houston.
Occasionally, she also gets inspired by posts when browsing through Pinterest. Next up on their list of things to make are wooden tabletops with tiles. Between the two of them, they have their own favourite items to make — Lisha likes to make tables and chairs, and her husband prefers to concentrate on counters.
Lisha’s children have also been the happy beneficiaries of their parent’s skills, as the duo often lovingly handcraft gifts for them. For her daughter’s first birthday, Lisha made a wooden tricycle. Even though they are still young (below the age of three), both children love to watch their parents at work.
“The pricing for our products is based on the design. What you get is the one and only design so pricing varies. I think we are quite reasonable when it comes to pricing because we give what the customer wants. If the customer has a budget, we will work within that range,” said Lisha.
“Usually, it takes about a week for me to complete something simple. For more complicated designs, it takes me four weeks.”
Currently, Lishasahar Furniture is on Instagram and Facebook, documenting their pieces they handcraft. Interested buyers can also look up their gallery of work on the website. Towards the end of this year or early next year, there are plans to open a workshop that will also double up as the duo’s studio. In the studio, they also hope to sell ready-made items.