Home Is Where The Art Is

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Barely two years old and Julita Bhagat’s furniture company, 98 Crafted, is taking the art and furniture world by storm.

DECOR HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY PASSION…

In between school where I was studying hospitality, I did a little bit of decor and realised there is a big gap for affordable and quality furniture. I decided that at some point that was what I was going to do. I kept waiting for the right time; I decided there is never a right time. That’s when I quit my job and decided to just do it.

MY COMPANY 98 CRAFTED…

has been around for one-and-a-half years. We specialise in bespoke furniture inspired by culture. All materials we use are sourced locally.

I GET INSPIRATION EVERYWHERE…

A story my grandmother told me, a dress, a necklace, culture, the environment, anywhere.

IT CAN TAKE…

anything from a couple of weeks to a month to develop an idea. When it’s a couple of weeks it’s usually when the client sort of knows what they want so I’m just building on it.

FINDING PEOPLE I CAN WORK WITH WHO ARE RELIABLE HAS BEEN AN ONGOING CHALLENGE…

But the more we work together, the more we understand each other’s language, and when you have a long term relationship it gets better.

I’M TRYING MY BEST TO TARGET YOUNG ADULTS…

so that means I also have to play with how my pricing is but I won’t say my products are for a specific target. I target people who appreciate culture, people who appreciate art. I keep my pieces simple and classy to ensure they remain relevant in the future. A lot of them are adjustable so you can easily play around with it. There are a lot of things you can do to something and then it becomes beyond just what you’ve received. If you keep it simple it can stay for so long no matter what you change in the environment, it is simple enough to blend with the rest.

THE MOST EXTRAVAGANT PIECE I’VE EVER DONE…

was a table I made with a lot of brass. It was big – a 16-seater – and went for Ksh 350,000. It was so much fun to make.

WHEN EVERY PIECE IS DONE…

there’s always the part when I’m introducing it to the client. That is usually the best time and nerve wracking time for me. I’m worrying about whether they’ll like it or not. But a piece is a success when the client is satisfied and says thank you. That is usually the best time. SUCCESS AND FLATTERY AREN’T DISTRACTING… because every piece is different and every client is different.

I USUALLY TRY NOT TO SACRIFICE MY DREAM IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE COMMERCIAL SUCCESS…

At the very beginning, it’s something I did and grappled with but now I don’t.

I WORK ON THREE OR FOUR PROJECTS AT A TIME…

I’m trying to keep it down because my company is not big yet, but hopefully, next year I can roll out to a slightly bigger number. I don’t want to commercialise it so much. I do it more for the art. My ultimate goal is to collaborate with other artists.

ARTISTS IN THE BUSINESS THAT I ADMIRE…

include Simply Sandara (specialising in hand screen printed furnishing fabrics that are designed and made in Kenya)

ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS NOT EASY…

and you can’t give up. You can’t compare yourself to anyone else. Have a reason why you started and you’ll be fine.

THE BEST PART ABOUT IT IS…

I’m doing what I really enjoy. That keeps me going.

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