By June Ramli
Faiza Khan remembers the day when she became interested in interior design (ID) way back when she was in high school.
“I’ve always loved flipping through international ID magazines.
“My school friends would come into my room and be in awe as I would decorate it differently,” she told the dailystraits.com in a recent interview.
But when it was time for her to apply for university, she went with Mass Communication instead as there wasn’t a related course in her chosen field.
“There was no ID or an architectural course at UPM and so I improvised and chose this course instead,” she added.
And the rest was history, as Faiza soon graduated and ended up working as an event and communications manager with Telekom Malaysia for a good 14 years until deciding to branch out on her own.
Although she had no plans to leave her full-time role fate had intervened and put her in the trajectory of running her own ID business.
“I used to share my home decoration on Facebook. An old university mate had spotted it and she informed her friend who happened to be the editor of a local renowned ID magazine and the next thing I knew I had been featured on the cover of that magazine.”
That was the turning point for Faiza.
“It (Telekom) was a great job with all the perks but I made the very difficult decision to leave it in order to pursue my styling business full-time,” she said.
As soon as she left her role, Faiza remembers being inundated with calls from strangers and friends who had wanted her to work on their home from time to time.
“I was moonlighting a bit in the business while I was working in Telekom, meeting clients on the weekends but I decided to quit because my side hustle was pulling in serious numbers and was replacing my salaried income.”
Once out, Faiza got herself a business partner and employed four staff to run the company.
“I was getting customers from word of mouth as we specialised in swimming pool installation and also living and master bedrooms.”
It was doing well until the news came that her husband was going to be transferred to Egypt in 2018 for work.
“It was a long-term assignment and so I had no choice but to follow him there,” she said.
This had caused Faiza’s business some grief and she discontinued it temporarily due to the distance.
While in Egypt, Faiza became a dutiful wife and although she managed to clinch a styling project she was unable to complete it as her husband was transferred back to Kuala Lumpur by then.
Once word got out that Faiza was back, the unexpected had happened.
Calls were beginning to trickle in from people wanting her to complete their home ID projects.
“I was thinking of taking a break first but when the calls began coming in, I decided not to refuse these offers and accept the work.”
Faiza said her clients were all referred to her through word of mouth and from her Instagram and Facebook page.
“I’ve had clients trickling in since.”
At the moment, Faiza employs contractors to work with her on an ad hoc basis.
She said there was money to be made in the business these days as more people tend to spend time at home due to lockdowns, work from home policies and the inability to travel abroad.
Faiza said after the cost is determined for each project, the client would have to dish out 40 per cent of the total amount to her company in which the money would go to buy items such as furniture and carpentry.
Followed by another 40 per cent in staggered payments agreed by both parties with the final payment kicking in upon completion.
She said many furniture companies in Malaysia provided stylists such as herself with additional discounts for their projects.
“We will have to register with them and provide them with our company details only then we can get these discounts,” she said, without revealing the amount.
‘I started my business from zero and have grown it from strength to strength on my own accord.
‘I have many ID friends, but I never ask them to reveal their contacts to me because I respect them enough to know that such an ask is unprofessional.
‘I feel that to be a good ID one should be more proactive in finding their own contacts and not expect to be spoon-fed all the time.’
She said all her jobs start with a contract between her and her client which includes a defamation clause and the inability to terminate her services at any time.
Among the services that Faiza provides her clients are choosing curtains, furniture, deciding on the carpentry and providing technical drawing on how the house would look once done.
She said once a client had expressed an interest to engage with her services, she would pay them a visit with her contractors.
“We will discuss what needs to be done, and I will provide them with a mood board, there will be no technical drawings provided during the first meeting because some people are known to steal your ideas. Only when things are confirmed, then I will provide them with an AutoCAD drawing.”
She also said that these drawings can be changed a maximum of three times, anything above that would incur a fee.
Faiza who is known for her contemporary designs currently trades under the banner FK Innovations Sdn Bhd.
“In my designs, I usually like to go for something different and not the usual one’s that you see out there. I like to innovate and come up with posh-looking layouts but it has to be practical at the same time.”
To contact this reporter, email firstname.lastname@example.org
June Ramli is the editor of DailyStraits.com. To stay in touch with June, look her up on Twitter @junesairaramli