An entrepreneur. A business owner. A creative designer. An artist. A teacher. An author. There is more to Lisette Scheers than being known for creating Nala Designs’ fresh, colourful patterned and graphical creations. But ultimately, she is above all, the mother to her only daughter Nala, who is clearly the world to her.
No doubt, the founder of Nala Designs needs few introductions. Having a successful career as an art director in the advertising industry, Lisette’s entrepreneurial journey started when she established her own graphic design consultancy, L.inc, which is now widely credited for the many interior and marketing efforts of The BIG Group’s restaurants. Since then, she has expanded her ventures and launched the much adored Nala Designs in 2012, followed by the interactive art academy Th.inc, the unique event space CL.Inc, and also co-founded the DR.Inc café, which she uses to further showcase the brand and her talent in interior design. But to be honest, it frustrates me to see people categorise her as a mere foreign lady who has a knack for hand drawing gorgeous nostalgic illustrations, brimming with the cultural diversity and multi-ethnic history of Southeast Asia. Meeting her personally, it’s clear that Lisette is not one to be labelled.
1. Passion, Love & Life
Nala’s Kampong House, which is nestled along Jalan Abdullah, Bangsar is a dream come true for Lisette. The flagship store felt more like a private residence than a boutique, with doors opened to invite all to marvel at its tastefully done interior. “This is my dream house. Growing up here (in Malaysia), I’d always wanted to live in one. I find it’s the most ideal way to survive in this tropical climate. And when I got this beautiful wooden house to run my business, I was overjoyed,” she shares, revealing her deep passion for everything Malay. And if you’ve yet to attend any of the weekend markets she hosts monthly, it is time you do so. “I love hosting parties and I want to offer everyone, especially the younger generation, the experience of being part of a cultural history. It’s my way of giving back. These houses are close to extinction, especially in the urban areas. And this is one of the very few that have managed to survive whilst remaining intact over the decades.”
2. An Artistic Cause
A passionate young artist in a seasoned business owner, Lisette carries with her a level of energy that can only be fueled by determination and passion. “As a business owner who is investing in an artistic cause, I can say it’s extra draining. Although it’s a service-based skill, the subject is different. Take for example doctors, you’d never negotiate the price with them. But when it comes to anything creative, sadly it’s not appreciated and respected. We’re at the bottom of the food chain and we as artists compromise on such behaviour.”
3. The Greatest Fear
As an artist, Lisette’s greatest fear is the lack of time. “There are so many things I want to do, but time is something I’m running short of. As a single parent, it’s hard to juggle everything without help. I’m doing my best to keep the business going, but it saddens me as I’m not able to spend time with my daughter. At some point, I’m afraid I will break down, but I believe in what I’m doing and I really do love what I’m doing.”
4. Nala’s Inevitable Crossroad
Lissete also points out the situation where the brand’s presence in the market is well known but lacks the support it needs to go further. “I’m at a crossroad now. Those who love my brand are unable to afford it, while those who can are more interested to spend on luxury brands. So it’s a cultural clash and it doesn’t help that I’m Dutch,” she firmly notes before softening up, lamenting that she’d love to make her brand more accessible but for now, it’s impossible due to production costs. “I’d just have to keep the passion going and continue loving the house, and walking around in my baju kurung.”
Read the full feature in Prestige Malaysia January 2018