In our New Chapter of Hunches ‘n’ Punches, we have Entrepreneur Kabir Basin and his wife Aprajita Bhargava Bhasin.
About Our Guests:
Second Generation of Entrepreneur, MBA Graduate from SP Jain Mumbai, and Co-Founder of India’s largest furniture rental startup- FURLENCO.
Aprajita Bhargava Bhasin
A successful entrepreneur and also an International Radio Jockey and News Anchor with DD National.
About East Lifestyle
East Lifestyle is now in its 2 nd Generation, A pioneer in bespoke designer, handcrafted luxury furniture, and décor.
Let’s have some Hunches ‘n’ Punches with our Guests ‘ Kabir Bhasin & Aprajita’
Who or What has Shaped who you are?
Kabir Bhasin: My father founded his first Furniture manufacturing company in 1996, although our business model here at East Lifestyle is quite different from what my father started then, his passion and love for woodworking and designing made me fall in love with it when I was just 16 years old.
And my Entrepreneur and business skills I owe to my mentors and teachers at SP Jain, Mumbai where I received my MBA from. So a combination of family roles and my keen interest in business operations shaped me into who I am.
Aprajita Bhargava Bhasin: I think what has shaped me into my current self, is my exposure to a gamut of experiences, from being into a technology field as a coder to being an International RJ for over a decade to being a TV presenter to owning my own business in Organic cosmetics and much more.
The launch of East Lifestyle in 2017, gave me an opportunity to expand my knowledge and use my skills and experience in the interior and décor industry.
In all of this, I would say my parents are the biggest reason for my success, as they never once stopped me from trying my hands on anything I ever wanted to!
How would your friends describe you?
Kabir Bhasin: Quite and the focused one.
Aprajita Bhargava Bhasin: Risk-taker and over-enthusiastic !! with lots of strictness about being on time and keeping things organized ..
What is the Story behind the ‘East Lifestyle’?
Kabir Bhasin: As I mentioned, my father started ‘Colonial Outpost’ in 1996 with his prime focus being exported and only colonial designs in solid wood furniture.
After completing my MBA and understanding how family and start-up business runs, I started helping out my family business. But soon we realized that the need of the hour was different. So we shut down Colonial Outpost.
In the meanwhile, I was working on lots of different start-up ideas, one of which I founded, turned into a mega success– FURLENCO, India’s largest furniture rental brand. But soon enough I existed my role as co-founder from FURLENCO to work on my main business model, which was designing and manufacturing high-end retail furniture. Design is the key element for me.
In 2017, we gave birth to East Lifestyle – A luxury designer furniture brand, which focused not only on colonial designs but also on modern the contemporary taste of modern homes. My wife, Aprajita introduced the home décor range to our furniture range.
How ‘East Lifestyle’ is different from other players’ Traditional & Non-Traditional in Furniture?
Aprajita Bhargava Bhasin: This question reminds me of what Kabir and I, often say about our work, that what we do and what other players do, is 90% similar, but what makes us different is that extra 10% that we put in.
Be it a detailed designing session for each piece, or handcrafting every detail from skilled craftsmen, or be it sourcing only the best of the best raw material. That extra 10% of the time and money that we put into perfecting our pieces is what makes our work stand apart.
Although East Lifestyle is 3 years old, Bhasin’s family name has earned such loyalty in the furniture business that we still have clients only buying from us, who bought from ‘Colonial outpost’ in 1996.
Who are your Target Customers? & Business future plans?
Kabir: Our target customers are clients from HNI and UHNI segment along with interior designers and architects for institutional projects like Hotels, offices and show flats.
Aprajita: Our key clientele includes people who are not just looking for a piece of furniture for their home, but people who put thought and emotion into it. We create Herilooom pieces and statement pieces.
By 2023 we aim to open more retail stores PAN India including Delhi, Mumbai, and Goa.
What is your Team size and Company Culture?
Aprajita: East Lifestyle team works as one big family. Some of our head craftsmen have been with us for the last 24 years and are now making their children also join the company.
How you define your Designs?
Kabir: We take pride in our Victorian design knowledge, my father was one of the first designers in India to bring this design. However, since we are purely into the customization of products, we design as per our client’s requirements.
Lately, we have been doing a lot of Art Deco and Modern Design as per the industry trends.
Aprajita: Our USP is hand-carved solid wood colonial furniture. But our design includes an array of contemporary, minimalistic, mid-century designs as well.
Can You tell us about a tough day you had at work and How You Pushed Through?
Kabir: Every day at work is a tough day but that’s what keeps it’s interesting and challenging. Since we work on customization and don’t produce run of the mill products, each project is as new as it can be.
From translating client’s requirement into the design to sudden machine breakdowns, from tight delivery timelines to 5 hours of client meetings – each day throws a new curveball.
But my super-skilled team and the trust of customers are what makes helps me get through tough days.
What are you really into outside of work?
Kabir: I am pretty much all about work 24*7, when not in my furniture studio, I am often brainstorming and working on various start-up ideas, the latest of which was into disinfectant solutions given our current pandemic.
I also do guest lectures at management institutes for aspiring entrepreneurs. But I force myself into at least 1 vacation in a year to prepare myself for another run.
Aprajita: 6 days of the week, we stay pretty busy with our work here at East Lifestyle. Outside of work, I often write guest posts for various publications in ‘Home Décor’ sections. I am also currently working on a book that I am planning to finish by 2021.
Even at home, Kabir and I often keep picking up furniture and interior based projects, like restoring family heirlooms. Playing with my two canine babies at home is what works as my stress buster!
What is the best advice you have received?
Kabir: “It’s ok to fail, just never give up.”
Aprajita: “You have one lifetime, fill it with experiences as much as you can.”
What motivates you to work?
Kabir: My love for design, woodworking, and business are what motivates me to work.
Aprajita: The sweet taste of success of your own business is my driving force. The only thing that can beat that feeling is the happiness that I get to see on my client’s faces after we finish their project.
That one pat on the back and appreciation by customers, makes all the hard work totally worth it.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from a peer and how have you used that lesson in your day-to-day life?
Kabir: I learned it’s important to have some ground rules and values in a company, and at East Lifestyle, we stick to them every single day/Same thing applies to personal life as well.
Aprajita: I learned very early on in my working experience, that value for time for people you work for, or who work with you and for you is very important. And that thing is my ground rule in my day–to–day life.
What’s one critical piece of feedback you’ve received that was really difficult to hear? Why was it difficult and what did you do with that information? What did you learn about yourself?
Kabir: One feedback I received while I was working on my major startup FURLENCO, was that I need to take it easy. It was hard to hear at the time as I was totally absorbed in my work.
But I took the advice and I learned to relax a bit since then and it has helped me to make better decisions, both professionally and personally.
Aprajita: One of the critical feedback for me from my own family at the time when I was juggling between international radio shows, tv shows, and my business, where I wouldn’t get time to sleep for 48 hours at least twice a week.
That was the time I was told – “don’t bite more than you chew”, and that kind of stuck with me. At the time it was hard to understand as I was driven blindly by my love for just working nonstop.
But over the period of time, it’s that feedback that helped me prioritize my requirements in life and make sure I don’t work 48 hours straight anymore without sleeping.
How would you build a product for people who are looking for an apartment?
Kabir: We offer customization for all our clients. Our process starts with understanding what the client is looking for. Next, we assess the place where the product is planned to be installed.
Based on the client’s liking, requirements, and spacing, we move onto the design process.
This generally includes clients showing us sample images of what kind of furniture they want. Once the design finalizes, we then move into production, followed by QnC, and customer’s approval.
Only after the client is happy with the product that we have produced for them is that we do the delivery. We will work on the product until the client is totally satisfied even if it means working on the product all over again.
What are you really good at, but never want to do anymore?
Aprajita: I was really good at being an RJ, which I did for 11 years, but I wouldn’t go back to it anymore since there are other areas I would now like to be really good at.
What is your advice for aspiring to be Entrepreneurs?
Kabir: The most imp trait of becoming an entrepreneur is to be able to see what others can’t and having the drive to follow through with what u see…
Once the idea is set in your head, and you know exactly what you need, then we come over to the next step, that is of putting that idea into action.
Starting a venture is all about contacts, you need to know the right people, meet them at the right time and put your idea through them in a clear concise manner.
Aprajita: And remember, “no matter what happens today, good or bad, you need to keep moving, because you decide your own future, and you must never settle for small things, and a true Entrepreneur plays for greater things and lives a bigger and better life every day”.
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Studying Psychology, Just Another Poor Philosopher, Foodie, Netflix Fan, Food Reviewer on Zomato, Digital Marketer By Profession & Aspiring Entrepreneur. Went to Both for Studies ITI & IIT-D