"I didn't want these beautiful fabrics to end up in landfill..."
The spread of COVID-19 has, unfortunately, impacted all walks of life. It is no doubt that the outbreak has caused a major economic shock and left many small businesses struggling.
An August 2020 article by the New Statesman concluded that UK small businesses ran by the BAME population have been “particularly exposed” to the COVID-19 impact.
However, until COVID-19, BAME, particularly British South Asian-owned small businesses, have grown drastically over the years.
A 2015 paper by Dr Muhibul Haq, a lecturer at Huddersfield Business School from the University of Huddersfield discusses ethnic minority small businesses.
The paper revealed, “ethnic minority population and their enterprises, predominated by South Asians, are growing faster than their mainstream counterparts in the UK.”
During these difficult times, it is important to support and buy from these growing British South Asian-owned small businesses.
DESIblitz has compiled a list of some unique British South Asian-owned small businesses you should know about.
Kushiya Designs is a South Asian inspired modern greeting card and wall prints small business.
As within many areas of business in the UK, there is a clear lack of diversity within the greeting cards and gift industries.
Finding the perfect greeting cards that are truly aimed at South Asians and represent their culture can be a difficult endeavour.
Tarnjit Dosanjh, the owner of Kushiya Designs, aimed to change this in October 2016 when she started her small business.
Tarnjit, speaking exclusively to DESIblitz, explains:
“I had always found there were never any cards that really represented our Desi style culture, so I decided to see if I could help with filling that gap.”
Explaining more on how she began, she says:
“I started off with just greeting cards, but now also design and sell wall prints, apparel, and mugs, which make perfect gifts!
“I also have a selection of DIY party supplies. But there is still more to come!”
Kushiya Designs offer greeting cards for major South Asian celebrations, such as Diwali, Eid, Lohri, and Vaisakhi.
They also sell unique cards and gifts for occasions, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas – that all offer a humorous Desi twist compared to your usual greeting cards.
Kushiya Designs also allow customers to add personalised messages within the cards, allowing you to send cards directly to your loved ones.
Each of the cards contains common Desi colloquialisms or relatable aspects of South Asian culture in them.
When asked what her favourite products are, Tarnjit expresses her opinion:
“If I have to choose a personal favourite, I would say it’s my Fitteh Moo mug, followed by my Duffa Ho mug!
“They explain my mood at most times really well!”
If you are looking for humorous Desi inspired greeting card or gifts for your friends or family, Kushiya Designs provide a great range of products.
Visit Kushiya Designs Instagram page and website for more information on the products they offer:
Website: Kushiya Designs
House of Bilimoria
The House of Bilimoria, founded in 2008, is a sustainable brand that produces luxury high-quality items from vintage textiles.
Owner, Shilpa Bilimoria speaking exclusively to DESIblitz, says:
“House of Bilimoria is a family brand built on the heritage of our ancestors.
“Sustaining identity through the medium of textiles, we reincarnate vintage, second-hand, and heirloom textiles into new pieces.”
House of Bilimoria is a brand with a story.
Shilpa explains how once she graduated, she began designing for the high-street but quickly realised that this was not for her.
After leaving her job, she expresses how she got started:
“I embarked on building a brand that was all about the ethics, love, and craftsmanship that goes into making clothing.”
House of Bilimoria sells a range of luxury women and children’s clothing and luxury zero-waste accessories, such as pouches and clutches.
Shilpa maintains her favourite item she sells is:
“A beautifully tailored classic shirt, made from luxury upcycled silk sarees.
“The shirt is such a versatile piece that can be dressed up or down with so many different styles.”
Alongside these products, House of Bilimoria also offers bridalwear and a bespoke service, which is customisable to the customer’s wishes.
The House of Bilimoria’s website explains that during the bespoke process:
“You get to experience the full process of having a garment made that is all about who you are and that celebrates the uniqueness of being an individual.”
If you are interested in purchasing luxury ethnic items from a brand that puts sustainability at the centre of its design, you should visit the House of Bilimoria!
For more information, visit their website and social media:
Website: House of Bilimoria
Craft Tree by Sabina
Craft Tree by Sabina is a ‘one-stop gift shop’ that opened in June 2020. The business sells a range of handmade gifts, including 3D frames, bookmarks, coasters, and keyrings.
Owner Sabina Mohamad, speaking exclusively to DESIblitz, reveals:
“I make various unique personalised gifts, which are beautifully designed for every occasion.
“Everything in my shop is handmade with love.”
Talking about her products, Sabina says:
“My most popular items are my personalised bookmarks, which come in various designs and sizes.
“They are made of resin, and it is an ideal gift for every occasion.”
Craft Tree by Sabina came about from her love of coming up with unique ideas and the extra time she had during the lockdown.
Revealing how she started, Sabina comments:
“I needed a new project to keep myself busy and sane, so I decided I will start my own little gift shop working from home, making personalised gifts and donating a percentage from every sale to charities around the world.”
The small business has quickly grown in a short amount of time. It has gained recognition internationally, as well as from influencers, and has received 5-star customer satisfaction.
Craft Tree by Sabina offers a range of personalised products made from resin, such as coasters, cake stands, magnets, ornaments, and much more.
Each item can be fully customised to any colour of your choice and personalised with your name.
Speaking enthusiastically about her prized product, Sabina expresses:
“My personal favourite product I make and sell is the Mickey/Minnie mouse trinket dish. They are just too adorable.”
One of the shops newest items is a memory bear. These memory bears are made in remembrance of a loved one.
To make the bears more personal, they can be made with your loved one’s favourite flowers or belongings, such as buttons or cloth.
The aim of Craft Tree by Sabina is to create beautiful handmade gifts that appeal to all ages and genders.
Above all, Sabina hopes her products will connect families during the pandemic and make many people smile.
If you are looking for an online store which offers a range of personalised gifts for everyone, it is worth checking out Craft Tree by Sabina.
For more information, visit their website and Instagram:
Website: Craft Tree by Sabina
Su Che Design
Su Che Design is a London-based Indian art print business owned by fine art graduate Bhavin Bhadresa.
The small business, which was established during the start of the pandemic, sells bold pop art illustrations.
The illustrations combine wit and humour with the “idiosyncrasies and traditions that have defined” Bhavin’s multicultural upbringing.
Su Che Design combines Bhavin’s love for his Indian heritage with his passion for design.
The prints contain a range of witty South Asian cultural references and phrases.
Bhavin, speaking exclusively to DESIblitz, discloses:
“The most popular of these tend to be the ones that use witty Gujarati/Hindi phrases. These make people smile.”
Su Che Design offers a range of pop art posters with Gujarati/Hindi phrases on, such as thaki gai, Tara Baap Nu Ghar Che?, Chup!, and Kaam Chor.
The small business has grown quickly in a short amount of time and has received all 5-star reviews from happy customers.
The posters are aimed at the wider South Asian diaspora, and Bhavin explains:
“I guess me being an 80s child means that some of my references and ideas are of that era and will appeal to those of a similar background.”
Some of the posters refer to this era, making reference to songs from iconic films such as Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) and Tezaab (1988).
Another throwback poster includes a nostalgic illustration of a remote control wrapped in plastic – some will remember this from their Desi households.
If you are looking for good quality, witty Indian pop art prints, it is worth considering Su Che Design.
For further information about Su Che Design, visit their website and social media:
Website: Su Che Design
Garmi, established in July 2020, is a brand that sells high-quality handcrafted items that are made from 100% recycled South Asian fabrics.
Owner, Geena Rait speaking exclusively to DESIblitz, openly shares her story:
“My primary motivation behind starting Garmi was to find a solution to the creation of South Asian fabric waste.
“After seeing just how much fabric waste was generated by my nani sewing suits for me and my family over the years, I realised that this was probably reflected in South Asian households up and down the country.
“I didn’t want these beautiful fabrics to end up in landfill, so I started experimenting, and Garmi was born.”
Garmi offers a range of unique handcrafted accessories such as face masks, bags, headbands, bookmarks, and scrunchies – all of which are in beautiful Desi fabrics.
Geena elaborates that while Garmi is targeted at South Asian women, her aim is to:
“bring my products to people of all backgrounds and thereby promote South Asian culture further.”
Garmi fuses South Asian culture and heritage with Western fashions, subsequently creating Desi products that can be worn day-to-day.
When asked what her favourite products are, Geena shares:
“My favourite products are my belt bags.
“I designed them in the first lockdown as the perfect bag for lockdown walks, and it’s a product that I haven’t seen anyone else make with Desi fabrics!”
Garmi also takes bespoke orders. So, if you are looking for a face mask or other accessories to match a certain Desi outfit, then Garmi is the place to go.
Garmi’s Instagram page has more details on the products they offer:
The Jewel Jar
The Jewel Jar, launched in February 2020, is a jewellery brand that is a culmination of different designers who specialise in artisanal contemporary jewellery.
Owner, Parneet Kaur speaking exclusively to DESIblitz, brings to light how she started her small business:
“I felt there is an opportunity to bring something versatile, unique, statement yet affordable for today’s modern women.
“I’m very proud of the rich craftsmanship of the artisans who handcraft our pieces.”
These craftsmen come from families who have been honing the same skills for centuries.
“I really wanted to share their skills, talents, and stories with the world.”
The Jewel Jar sells a range of jewellery that would appeal to all women.
Their collections contain delicate pearls, sustainable wooden jewellery, Swarovski statement pieces, and hand-embroidered jewellery.
“All our jewellery is fluid yet versatile so they can be styled with both traditional and Western outfits.
“This fits perfectly with our multifaceted lifestyle where we want to keep a balance between culture and modern sensibilities.
“I believe jewellery is a form of self-expression. I want us women to have fun with jewellery, style it and wear it to reveal our unique personality and be our own You!”
Speaking on the versatility of her items, Parneet continues:
“Our statement Swarovski stud earrings can be worn with workwear or jumpers during the day and can effortlessly transition into the evening by pairing them with a dress or worn with a sari.”
In a short amount of time, The Jewel Jar’s jewellery has been featured in a music video, as well as on the cover of L’officiel magazine.
If you are looking for good-quality wearable statement or dainty pieces, have a look at the Jewel Jar.
The Jewel Jar’s Instagram page and website provide additional details on their jewellery.
Website: The Jewel Jar
Uncle’s Corner Shop
Uncle’s Corner Shop, launched in January 2020, is a brand that sells statement pieces with a twist.
Owner, Akira Amani, speaking exclusively to DESIblitz says:
“Uncle’s Corner Shop serves statement pieces that empower our voices, challenges stereotype’s and celebrates our mixed heritage.”
“Uncle’s Corner Shop is for everyone who is passionate about uniting and celebrating our mixtape culture, as well as addressing the ‘tough stuff’ so we can make a positive change.”
Uncles Corner Shop sell necklaces and keyrings with unique quotes such as:
Love Wins, Couldn’t Give a Flying Faluda, I Don’t Speak Indian, Decolonise Your Mind and Paris, New York, Southall – plus much more.
Akira explains how the Decolonise Education and Chup Kar statement necklaces are the most popular items.
Alongside statement necklaces, Uncle’s Corner Shop sells an anti-colourism colouring book and a holographic samosa-holic bag. All of which are designed and made by Akira.
Uncle’s Corner Shop aims to celebrate fusion cultures.
Akira shares the origins of Uncle’s Corner Shop:
“I created Uncle’s Corner Shop as a response to being tired of stereotypes, racism, and what it meant to be brown and British with its complex and unspoken history.”
“not being brown enough for ‘Desi’ communities but too brown for others. Inside, I’ve always felt we’re all just humans on a planet spinning in the middle of nowhere, trying to figure out this thing called life!”
I think Uncle’s Corner Shop is an exploration of all of that, owning this mixed crazy culture.”
If you are looking for some unique statement necklaces that break stereotypes it is worth looking at Uncle’s Corner Shop.
Uncle’s Corner Shop’s Instagram and website have further details.
Website: Uncle’s Corner Shop
There are many amazing British South Asian-owned small businesses out there that it would be impossible to list them all.
However, DESIblitz have created a list of some unique British South Asian-owned small businesses to check out.
All the small businesses mentioned have strong brand ethos’ and values, as well as unique products.