Lockdown Stories: Safomasi

Lockdown Stories is a series of short interviews with creative entrepreneurs and businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Since its beginnings, the main goal of Future Positive has been to share inspiring projects happening all around the world and, during these strange and difficult times for independent businesses and creators, we want to continue providing support and visibility. If you’d like to be featured in this series, please get in touch at hello@thefuturepositive.com and tell us your story.

Original illustrated fabrics, homewares and accessories designed to bring joy, colour and character into your home.
Location: St. Albans, UK & New Delhi, India

When did the lockdown start for you and how has your business been affected?

From the beginning of March things had started to slow down and, by mid March, we had an order cancelled. It was for a hotel store, so as it became apparent how serious the situation was becoming worldwide they understandably decided to pull all purchases. A big project planned for the second half of this year has also been put on hold for now.

Last year Sarah and I moved to the UK, but at least one of us travels back to our studio in Delhi a few times a year. In the UK we work from home, so when the lockdown came into effect on March 23rd, aside from not being able to go out for meetings etc, it didn’t seem all that different to us. India went into lockdown two days later, so our studio there has been closed ever since. We are relying on savings to pay salaries and rent whilst we have very little income. Our only income has been from online sales which we are very grateful for. But as most of our inventory is held in our studio in Delhi, we’ve been unable to ship so sales have slowed.

This week the lockdown in Delhi was extended for another two weeks, but measures have been eased so some of our staff are now able to get to the studio safely and we can slowly start working on shipping out orders, which will help a lot in being able to promote our website. We have fabric samples with us in the UK, so have still been sending out requests to Interior designers. It’s good to see some projects are still happening. However I think the impact will last for quite some time.

Have you found any new ways of working or have come up with new product ideas during this time?

Before lockdown we were developing new products and base fabrics, but those are paused for now as our focus is on sustaining the business to get through the next few months. However we are enjoying having time to play with print ideas that we can keep aside for the future.

Having businesses based in two countries, we have always used technology to communicate with our team, and as such our production process is pretty streamlined and smooth. But for the development of new prints we always like to be present. It would be possible to do it from afar, but we like being hands on and involved directly in the sampling. There’s no rush, but it is a bit unsettling not knowing when we will be able to get back.

What are some of the positive takeaways you have experienced during this time?

Despite the challenges and pressures it has been really good to have time to think about where we want to take our business. We have been running Safomasi for over 7 years and on a personal level, this enforced break is probably what we needed.

How do you see your business evolving over the next few months?

Over the next few months we want to start growing the design side of our business. We occasionally work on illustration, print and textile design commissions, so alongside our online store, that’s definitely an area we want to evolve more.

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