Small Business of the YearBack to Winners
Sponsored by Hatten Wyatt
LOCATION: Tunbridge Wells
KEY PRODUCT/SERVICE: Homeware retailer
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 9
Dassie Artisan sells homeware handmade by skilled people living in the developing world.
Founded by husband and wife team David and Roxi Zeeman, it began life on the dining room table with “boxes piled up to the ceiling to save storage costs”.
It became a retail-focused pop-up shop but today has grown revenues from £100,000 in its first year to more than £1 million this year and forecast to be £2.3 million next year.
It has a warehouse in Five Oak Green, an office and showroom in the Pantiles and a shop in the Royal Victoria Centre selling to 15 countries worldwide.
It has 500 active stockists in the UK and 100 around the world.
David said: “In a highly competitive and fast-moving industry, we have rapidly built a strong brand and a vast customer base that’s constantly growing. “We continually turn heads with our unique take on trends and our unique selling point is built on everything being handmade.
“Hotels, restaurants and numerous new builds are all current clients and markets which have revenue opportunities.”
Each item is designed in Tunbridge Wells but produced by Fair Trade artisan groups based in the developing world.
The company has struggled to maintain stock due to insufficient cashflow, which has stifled some growth potential.
David said: “While our ultimate business goal is focus on profit, we have the additional pleasure in creating jobs throughout the world and offering a better life to hundreds and thousands of family workers.
“We need to shorten lead times, deliver better customer service and keep our staff fully in line with our strategy.
“Our focus has been on building a brand, penetrating a very difficult market where substantial funds are required, and building scalable growth.”
It is developing in-house customer relationship management systems and is in the final stages of getting World Fair Trade Association approval.
David added: “We are passionate about reducing poverty through trade.”