East of India was started February 1991 by John Ayris and Anne Spratling. Whilst travelling throughout Asia we met a talented craftsman in Bali who had made a beautiful wooden pig, among other amazing products. We bought the pig and packed it into our rucksack. Three months later back in the UK we received so many admiring comments regarding our pig we decided to start our own business, introducing these beautiful handmade crafts to a wider audience.
We 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.
We returned to Bali and re-engaged with our craftsman and East of India was born.
It took more than two months for that first shipment to reach us in the UK. We spent that time seeking orders from local shops, some of whom are still customers today. It soon became clear we needed to start finding business from further afield and the Prince’s Trust offered us the chance of a subsidised stand at a trade fair. This proved to be an enormous success and a pivotal moment in our company’s life. We suddenly had customers ordering from all over the British Isles and beyond.
In the early days we would visit our suppliers every six months as the village didn’t even have a telephone. During these visits we started to experiment with our own designs, learning how to carve and paint the wood so we could create the first samples ourselves.
Designed in Britain
Today all our products are designed with love and care at our studio in Folkestone and we still work closely with our original ‘family team’, who now employ numerous other friends and family members to satisfy demand.
Thanks to your support we can offer sustainable employment to our artisans who are still able to earn a living using traditional skills passed down through the generations.
The East of India team in Folkestone has also evolved and grown, many of our staff have been with us since the early days. They respond with energy and enthusiasm to the ever changing requirements of a small business. We now print and manufacture all of our greetings cards, labels and paper products in house.
East of India takes seriously its corporate responsibility on environmental issues. For a number of years we have been involved with a tree planting project in Indonesia. Wood used in today’s 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.
Our office and warehouse in the UK has a solar power installation which helps us generate over half the electricity we need. Importantly this saves over 32 tons of CO2 being added to the atmosphere every year. If you would like to see what our solar power system generates please visit www.sunnyportal.com
We have always been mindful of our impact on the environment and since the beginning have always used recycled paper and cardboard wherever possible. We re-use all boxes from our suppliers to repackage our customer’s orders. We use corn starch compostable bags for our greeting card packaging. Our box fill is also recycled paper scrunched by machine, securing and protecting your orders.
Telephone: 01303 243255
Fax: 01303 249440
The Old Brewery, Park Farm Close, Folkestone, Kent, CT19 5DU
Monday to Friday: 8am to 5pm