The path from the education sector to producing high end furniture is not a well worn one, but it is the path Christopher Lim took.
What’s your story?
During my career in the education sector, I was tasked to handle my school’s renovation project, which I took on even though I had no prior experience in project management. I managed to see the project through entirely. With that, I got interested in interior design & build, and took up my next career challenge by moving into this sector. After years of managing and fabricating high-end furniture for some clients in the luxury designer brands, I decided to create my own brand of premium furniture and make them available to end consumers. That’s how Marano Furniture was conceived.
What excites you most about your industry?
I’ve always been interested in design and art. Now that I have my own furniture brand, I get to create furniture design from scratch. Each of Marano’s furniture collections is created with a unique theme as inspiration. Each collection’s design inspiration could be an experience gained from a trip to Rome, a celebration grand enough with inviting fireworks, a casual poker game night with friends, or simply a day’s hike in the forest. Design has no boundaries. I hope our furniture design will inspire, redefine and breathe new life into every home.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
I see myself as an entrepreneur more than a businessman. Therefore, the motivational drive for this business is not solely about money, but more so about a vision I hope to fulfill. This business is not just about making and selling furniture, but we also hope to sell dreams – the dreams of younger designers. We hope to provide them with a platform and opportunity to design his or her first furniture piece or collection that is fitting for commercial sale.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
It’s the skill of critical thinking. I’ve learnt to identify complex problems, putting each into different perspectives, and solving them by thinking out of the box.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I can never forget my ex-boss cum mentor’s golden line that he shared with me some 20 years ago – “If you want to be successful, why are you even wasting your time thinking about how not to fail?”. From that conversation onwards, I picked up the courage to quit my job, and started my own business then.
Who inspires you?
I’ve always live by this famous quote as a daily reminder to myself – “Whatever you are, be a good one” by Abraham Lincoln. In everything I do, I try my very best to do it well.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
During my recent business trip, I’ve had the opportunity to engage in a casual conversation with a very cheerful driver. He has a family of five children, a stay-at-home wife, and aged parents to feed. With his mere income from cab driving, he still manages to provide them their basic and medication needs, and a yearly road trip for the family to a nearby town. He spoke of his family with joy written all over his face. They live within their means and yet are able to find and appreciate life’s joy. This is very endearing and heart-warming.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I could turn back the clock, I think I would probably not venture into a solely-owned business, and definitely not in a project-based sector. As the saying goes – two heads (ideas) are better than one! Besides, this allows for more financial support and options in times of any expansion plans. Project-based businesses require a lot of time commitment and are usually stressful, causing strain with family and friends.
How do you unwind?
Whenever I’m not in the office, I’d probably be on the greens playing golf. Being in the outdoors with fresh air and green spaces is incredibly relaxing. When I’m free at home, I like to whip up a few of my family’s favourite dishes for all to enjoy my culinary skills.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
Starting Marano Furniture and going into design-themed furniture. I’ve shared this before – I have been producing high-end furniture for some luxury designer brands in the past. One day when I was playing golf in the greens, an “ah ha” moment struck me in a casual conversation with my mates – why haven’t I thought of starting a company designing and producing my own brand of premium furniture? It makes so much sense in every business angle to venture into this!
Everyone in business should read this book:
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Through this book, I have learnt to overcome bias to make better decisions and, in the process, acquire a higher quality of life for myself.
Shameless plug for your business:
Marano Furniture strongly believes in every furniture piece being a work of art – irreplaceable. Our designers draw inspiration from the world around us, and our artisan craftsmen lend a meticulous touch in their every skilful stitch and finish. We breathe life into designs we love, creating beautiful furnishing that lasts.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
LinkedIn for Christopher: linkedin.com/in/christopher-lim-8a888917
LinkedIn for Marano Furniture: https://www.linkedin.com/company/marano-furniture/
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.