The scene: women labourers working in a sports goods and wooden frames factory with melodious music playing in the background and chatting happily with their woman CEO. This gives an impression of the unique work atmosphere in Liza Mayan’s factories. They make tennis and soft cricket balls, carrom and chess boards and frames of varied kinds.
Located at Adikadalayi on the outskirts of Kannur town in north Kerala, Liza Mayan’s Classic Sports Goods, Windmach Sports Accessories and Windsor Arts and Frames employs 85 per cent women and has a reputation of an excellent producer of sports goods and artistic wooden frames.
Her husband Mayan Mohammed is a sports enthusiast, and Liza attributes their success to their women workers. “They urged me to look after the business in 2001,” says Liza. “I could instill confidence in them and almost doubled their productivity. Moreover, women workers are a boon considering the labour and political conditions of Kerala.”
Liza’s enterprise claims the credit of framing the leftovers of a lobster dish eaten by football’s living legend Diego Maradona during his visit to Kannur a couple of years ago. Windsor Arts and Frames enclosed a football in a wooden frame. “The hotel owner insisted on framing a football. I replaced the image Maradona kicking a ball in a poster with a full-size football,” Liza says with a smile.
Windmach claims it was the first tennis racket producer in India. Today, it markets two varieties of tennis balls and cricket soft balls under the brand names of Winson Official and Pacer.
“An average of 6,000 balls are produced a day but the demand is much higher,” says Liza. “IPL matches have boosted the demand for cricket soft balls. Though there are orders from the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, we are yet to enter the international market.” She intends to export sports goods soon.
The company, the pioneer producer of shuttle cocks, had badminton great Prakash Padukone as its brand ambassador. But production had to be stopped owing to the ban on the import of feather with the outbreak of bird flu in 1997-98. Liza is planning to revive that unit within three months to roll out nylon shuttle cocks.
As the sister concern of the Western India Plywoods Ltd, one of the leading plywood manufacturers in Asia, Windsor Arts and Frames focuses on products like object framing, non-reflective glass framing, shadow box framing and ‘conversation box’.
“The framing unit was launched in 2003 and it is a concept envisaged by me,” says Liza. “Buyers are interior designers, architects and hoteliers.”
A member of the Professional Picture Framers Association, USA, and All Photoframe Moulding Manufacturer and Trade Association, Liza frequently holds exhibitions in metros. She also mentors young girls. “I tell them the sky is the limit. You need to be dedicated to reap success.”
About her family supporting her in her endeavours, Liza says, “Despite belonging to a traditional Muslim family I got wholehearted support from my joint family.”