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East of India was started February 1991 by John Ayris and Anne Spratling. Whilst travelling throughout Asia they met a talented craftsman in Bali who had made a beautiful wooden pig, among other amazing products, they bought the pig and packed it into their backpack. Three months later back in the UK they received so many admiring comments regarding their pig they decided to start our their business, introducing these beautiful handmade crafts to a wider audience.
They showed a selection of carved wooden products to a few local shops, carried out some research into importing and selling hand crafted goods and, following a disappointing reaction from several banks, secured a loan from the Prince’s Trust. Together with business and legal advice, The Trust appointed a mentor who provided invaluable support and gave a great boost to our confidence.
They returned to Bali and re-engaged with their craftsman and East of India was born.
It took more than two months for that first shipment to reach them in the UK and they spent that time seeking orders from local shops, some of whom are still customers today. It soon became clear they needed to start finding business from further afield and the Prince’s Trust offered them the chance of a subsidised stand at a trade fair. This proved to be an enormous success and a pivotal moment in their company’s life. They suddenly had customers ordering from all over the British Isles and beyond.
In the early days they would visit their suppliers every six months as the village didn’t even have a telephone. During these visits they started to experiment with their own designs, learning how to carve and paint the wood so they could create the first samples themselves.
Today all our products are designed with love and care at their studio in Folkestone in the UK and they still work closely with our original ‘family team’, who now employ numerous other friends and family members to satisfy demand.
Thanks to your support they can offer sustainable employment to the artisans who are still able to earn a living using traditional skills passed down through the generations.
East of India takes seriously its corporate responsibility on environmental issues. For a number of years they've been involved with a tree planting project in Indonesia. Wood used in their current products come from seedlings planted no more than 10 years ago. Each tree harvested is replaced with another, which in turn will be ready to use 10 years after planting. The tree used is Albizia Falcata, grown in the foothills on dry land that cannot be used for rice fields.
East of India is also the owner and guardian of ‘Oak Wood’ in Kent, 22 acres designated as ancient woodland in an area of outstanding natural beauty and a site of special scientific interest.
Their office and warehouse in the UK has a solar power installation which helps us generate over half the electricity they need. Importantly this saves over 32 tons of CO2 being added to the atmosphere every year. If you're interested in seeing what their solar power system generates please visit www.sunnyportal.com
Since the beginning, East of India have always been mindful of their impact on the environment and since and have always used recycled paper and cardboard wherever possible. They re-use all boxes from their suppliers to repackage their customer’s orders.