Marian Mendis; the director and founder of THE LIVING ROOM began her career in the apparel manufacturing industry where she worked for 5 years before shifting to the furniture manufacturing industry, where she has been working for the last 4 years. Marian recognized that there was a big gap in the furniture market, between what customers are looking for and what was available, and felt that there was a big opportunity for her to narrow that gap by starting her own company. She started THE LIVING ROOM as a solopreneur to produce customized furniture at international standards. “You will never break your boundaries if you follow all the rules” – Marian, together with her husband Sachira built their company, which grew from a one-man team, into a team of 16 employees over the last 4 years.
As a company, some of the biggest challenges THE LIVING ROOM faces are customization and lead time. They distinguish themselves by personalizing their service according to each client, and ensuring that the raw materials sourced are of the highest quality, specifically the timber which is sourced from trusted and reliable premium sources. They work with renowned German, Belgian, Italian, and other European vendors for fabrics, accessories, and fittings which attributes to the confidence in the warranty they provide, which is strengthened by the strong relationships they have maintained with them over the years. The challenge of keeping up with the lead time is tackled by fully understanding the process, and adopting new solutions that increase efficiency wherever they can. Marian made it clear reliability and accountability are paramount, and that they rather under-promise and over-deliver over the reverse.
According to Marian, their biggest strength is their relationship with their clients. She emphasized that they take the time to understand their client, to provide more tailored solutions that are suited to their taste, requirement, and budget. She reiterated saying that “The more you understand your customers, the more you increase the probability of being sustainably successful and increasing your potential.”.
When speaking with Sachira Alwis, who is both Marian’s partner in business and director of THE LIVING ROOM, it was clear that he was passionate about improving the skills and knowledge of their team to better keep up with the dynamics of the industry. He was keen on investing in new methods, technologies, and tools to improve their team’s efficiency, and the quality of their work. He said that they forecast and control their capacity based on the prevailing situation in the world, and constantly determine what changes are needed in the mid and long term to accommodate and facilitate growth. He added that cash flow management is also a vital ingredient that helps them stay financially healthy, which allows them to grow with finances hindering the process, and that they always look at the big picture and work towards controlling their overheads. Both Sachira and Marian believe in being frugal with ‘nice to have’ expenses, which allows them to be generous with ‘must have’ expenses.
In Sachira’s view, the main ingredient in being a successful entrepreneur is to always be committed to what you are doing, and live by the words, “The only easy day, was yesterday”. He explained that you should have a vision of where you dream to be, set SMART goals, have a detailed plan on how to achieve those goals, and work on them every day with discipline. It is also essential that you frequently evaluate your progress and make quick adjustments where necessary. He further explained that understanding our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats is critical as you always need to play on your strengths and make good use of the opportunities while being aware of your weaknesses and keeping a close eye on potential threats that could impact your activity and progress.
THE LIVING ROOM is competing in a market that is crowded, challenging, and demanding, but it is their mission to get on top. Thinking about the future of the company, they plan to invest in more human capital, which they believe is the heart of the operation. Let it be technical, production, management, marketing, or support services, Sachira emphasized that it is the team that comes together to help them grow as a company, and he understands that each team member holds a significant impact on their operation.
The duo pledged to never compromise on quality and diligent service as they are the two main ingredients that paved the way for their early success. They will always strive to improve as a team to continue providing high-quality products with unparalleled service at competitive prices.
“Look forward to change, it will arrive sooner than you think!”