Amit has chosen Britain as his true home because of – in his own words: “the greater opportunities, rewarding culture, fairness and freedom the country has offered me”
Artisan’s India-born founder Amit Basu now is a British citizen, though he remains an avid globetrotter through his varied business interests. He has an MBA in International Marketing Management backed by a specialisation from London School of Economics, and migrated to UK under the Entrepreneurial Visa program granted by the British Government to exceptional entrepreneurs. This should tell you all you need to know about the business he’s building.
His father, now retired, was a leading global banker — giving Amit the opportunity to live in, explore and gain in-depth experience of various countries around the world, further honing his entrepreneurial skills. Out of these myriad places, he has chosen Britain as his true home because of – in his own words — “the great opportunities, rewarding culture, fairness and freedom the country has offered (him).”
The story so far
Amit started his furniture imports and exports business from a garage office, a factory that was little more than a cowshed, and generally jungle floor infrastructure in Jaipur, in the desert state of Rajasthan, India in 1995. He did all this with just £450 of scholarship money earned during his school days.
His big break came when he decided to concentrate on pinewood furniture, quite simply because pine timber did not exist in India! After first importing pine from New Zealand and creating a now-iconic ‘fusion’ between Indian metal jali furniture and European designs, the stage was set for a massive leap forward. Amit had made his first £1m before he turned 30.
In the ensuing years until 2010, Global Vision quickly added several overseas customers, including those in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, France, USA and Bahrain. The workforce increased rapidly and specialist departments were created to handle imports, exports, shipping and finance. Sales rose to several million pounds and the company maintained, and continues to maintain, a healthy bottom line.
During 2008-10 when the global financial meltdown slashed customer spending on lifestyle products, the company, like many others in its field, suffered the consequences. They were at a crossroads — move away from the company’s artisan centric roots and on to mass produced furniture in an effort to cut costs, or double down and transform into a socially conscious company that puts their artisans first.
He chose the latter, creating:
- A network of artisanal units in small towns and villages across the desert of northwestern India, bringing jobs and skills to communities that had once been thriving centres of handicraft and would soon be again. These all serviced the large unit in the regional capital, Jaipur, where products were finally shipped to customers from New York to Auckland.
- A sleek front-end sales, research and product development entity in the heart of London to facilitate this artisan centred approach and market these products to small business across the world.
The Indian operations include a corporate office, the Jaipur factory , 100+ employees and 150+ artisan workers in local units dotted around the state.
By 2012, the tide had well and truly turned, boosted by a series of high profile product launches and customers’ appreciation of a company that genuinely puts their artisans first. The quality and designs of handmade artisanal furniture didn’t hurt either; that’s what happens when you give artisans control on the way they make their products.
In less than two years, an annual growth rate in excess of 100% was achieved.
In October 2016, Global Vision Direct Ltd made a radical decision to go 100% digital by re-launching Artisan Furniture as they saw a major digital shift in the market and experienced slowing sales due to falling retail sales & high street shops being closing down. The name was chosen to reflect the company’s ethos of putting their artisans first, and making their generational crafts affordable to people across the world. Handmade furniture doesn’t have to be out of reach.
Artisan Furniture is an online platform which empowers retailers who are affected by internet sales. It is a strategic business unit (SBU) within the Global Vision legal entity, catering to independent retailers and e-commerce companies. But it’s also so much more than that. Like the name suggests, the company’s foremost goal remains artisanal welfare. Entrepreneurial artisans are given the support and opportunity to start their own sub-units in their towns, villages and communities, thus bringing back handcrafting jobs in places that were once full of them. Artisan is rebuilding communities that lived and breathed the crafts for centuries before cheaper, machine made products wiped them out. Now, e-commerce and the internet is helping them find their feet again.
For over two decades, the Artisan mission has been all about community, compassion and technology touching lives halfway across the world by connecting skilled artisans with small and large businesses alike; thereby creating a global opportunity for direct sourcing and increasing skills and jobs in artisan communities that have been left behind.
Today, Global Vision Direct Ltd T/A Artisan Furniture boasts a 1000+ ‘white label’ product portfolio with a diverse and well-spread customer base. They have more than 6 overseas markets and a first-rate factory to doorstep delivery service.
Amit strongly believes that the era of conventional trade is now over and he aims to further develop Artisan Furniture as an online platform which empowers retailers who are affected by internet sales, and artisans who practice arts that have been in their family for centuries.
“We remain a proud contributor into the British economy with a carefully controlled global growth strategy in place. We are ready, willing and able to respond to future opportunities and challenges.”