There is a popular saying, “Teaching kids to count is fine but teaching them what counts is best”. But for lawyer and single mum of three Farah Deba Mohamed Sofian, teaching them lessons in both is even better.
Having established Tanamsara Heights in May, Farah Deba and her family concentrate primarily on selling garden-to-home plants and small batches of farm-to-table produce, all grown out of her own — it must be said, expansive — garden. The business, along with a host of other boutique start-ups, was born as a result of the Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed earlier this year. “Being locked down and unable to venture outside of my house, I did a lot of gardening daily. I started out with vegetables and some flowering plants. And despite not having a green thumb, things flourished,” she says, still sounding surprised by it all.
“We never meant to be gardeners and we never expected anything [from our plantings]. Fortunately, whatever we planted, all shot up beautifully. As we became more aware of our consumption habits, we realised that growing our own goods was a step we could take towards being a more sustainable household.”
The name of the business is a witty play on the upper-class neighbourhood in which they live. But make no mistake, it is as wholesome and down to earth as you would expect a garden and plant business to be. “It all started with the sale of a single plant in a pretty pot. I then realised it was something people seemed to like,” says Farah Deba.
“We hope the plants and seedlings we propagated will help others start their own little gardens. Moreover, I loved the idea of setting this up as a small entity, something that is nurtured from within by us and how the very essence of the business makes the family enjoy spending more time together at home.”
It also helps that she has a great eye and mixes and matches pots and plants with her trademark good taste. A quick scroll of Tanamsara Heights’ Instagram account shows gorgeous terracotta pots holding maidenhair ferns and monsteras or seagrass baskets overflowing with philodendron and heliconia rostrata. Budding gardeners would also appreciate the succinct but stylishly presented cheat sheets on how to care for your plants, with advice ranging from how much and how frequent to water them to a plant playlist based on scientific findings that plants have a certain level of consciousness and can respond intelligently to their surroundings.
Besides pots and plants, the business has expanded to include a small batch of fertilisers and a plant recovery programme. “It is basically a plant ‘hospital’ service we started in August,” Farah Deba laughs. “This includes repotting services. So, if you find your plants overgrown or [in need of] just a bit of TLC, reach out to us and we will do our best to ensure your plant baby goes home to you well fed and well cared for in a maximum duration of three weeks.”
As legal work takes up most of her time, her three children are expected to contribute to ensure that the set-up is as professionally run as possible — but always with a lot of heart. “In fact, my children came up with the name [of the business]. They update the Instagram account and my daughter’s boyfriend Azrul even designed the logo,” she says proudly.
Already, Tanamsara Heights is fielding enquiries from appreciative clients to add other dimensions to its portfolio of services, including providing potted plants for commercial spaces and consultation on greening homes, gardens and interiors. For now, Farah Deba and her family are taking their time, slowly nurturing their little family start-up with the same amount of love and care they have for every little shoot and sapling. Our advice? Just let it grow.
This article first appeared on Nov 2, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.