Though not from design backgrounds, the siblings had been exposed to the industry since childhood, as both parents are design aficionados and their father has been in the interior design space for over 20 years. Sayali has always been passionate about design, and had even cleared the NIFT entrance exam; however, she chose to pursue a degree in engineering at the time, due to her second love – technology. The feeling that design and entrepreneurship were her true calling abided however, and therefore, despite an imminent promotion at her first job, she quit and turned her attentions towards creating Vilaasita.
Meanwhile, prior to co-foundingVilaasita, Sayali's sister Manasi worked with Intellecap, a social advisory firm that has clients in the social enterprise and impact investment space. She was eager to bring together her enduring passion for design and experience in this space to create a socially conscious brand that focused on making handcrafted furniture and home decor more accessible to everyone.
Vilaasita is inspired by global values and influences, but is deeply rooted in Indian traditions. The sisters had a dream to build a design brand that sits on the intersection of culture, cause and commerce. “Our signature style is effortless yet edgy and inspired yet understated. Aesthetics, quality craftsmanship and sustainable production are the three cornerstones of the brand.” says Manasi. “We wanted to leverage our passion for design and our individual strengths in technology and strategy/management consulting to create a socially conscious brand that makes well-crafted furniture and home decor more accessible, bridges the gap between the maker and the buyer, and thus also helps improve artisan livelihoods.”
Cindy Camelback Sofa - White
Addison Teak Chair
Vilaasita launched in February 2016 and has achieved several significant milestones in this short span of time. Being a new player in the space, customer satisfaction and feedback have been the key tools Manasi and Sayali have looked to, in order to improve and grow. We look back at a timeline of Vilaasita over the past year:
14th February, 2016: Vilaasita is launched. The brand went from five artisans to 25 artisans in just four months after their launch. They successfully processed orders from across the country - from metropolises like Kolkata to further flung cities like Guwahati.
25th September, 2016: Vilaasita becomes a member of the extremely selective Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, which was launched by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a public-private-partnership between the Aspen Institute and the U.S. Department of State. The alliance, headquartered in New York, is a unique collaborative initiative between artisan businesses, corporations, foundations and the government that works to support the full potential of artisan enterprises around the world.
September 2016: The brand bagged its first commercial project with a leading property developer in Goa.
20th October, 2016: Asian Paints chose 10 design brands for an exclusive B2B partnership where it actively promoted each, as part of its end-to-end home designing solutions initiative. Vilaasita was the youngest brand chosen for this activity, which lent them credibility and access to a larger audience.
10th February, 2017: Selected to be a vendor on Discern Living.
Manasi and Sayali have been inspired by their various travels across Asia, Africa, and Europe. “We derive pleasure from the imagination, thought process, technique and artistry that goes behind creating any objet d’ art. We love attention to detail. We do a lot of research before we venture into anything. For example, before launching our sofa range, we spent a lot of time understanding the evolution of hand-tufted furniture, the best practices and techniques used in manufacturing a sofa, research on competitive brands and gaps in the market, as well as an understanding of different raw materials and what works best for our designs,” says Sayali.
Manasi adds, “As a design brand, our effort was to create a youthful and contemporary yet elegant furniture range that celebrates artisanship and technique, and appeals to the young, well-travelled Indian demographic. We like straight lines and structured pieces. We believe in maintaining a symmetry of scale and perspective. The magic that two hands can create with real wood, real materials and techniques that have developed over hundreds of years can never be matched. We are inspired to create timeless pieces that pass through generations and adorn homes with beauty.”
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