Taking Happiness Home: InBali shares their story from Singapore to Bali
5 minute read
Running a Singapore business from Bali can mean making the most of both worlds. Read to find out their story and creative journey so far.
InBali (but from Singapore)
InBali was born with the chance encounter of British graphic designer James Law and French marketing professional Jade Bessiere in Singapore.
“We had both been living in Singapore for a while”, Jade recalls. “On our first trip to Bali, we were captivated by what we saw—it was so beautiful. We fell in love with the exotic, creative Balinese style, as well as the honest craftsmanship and artistry in Indonesia.”
“James has an eye for the artistry and technique as he was building furniture since his early 20s, while I’d always had a passion for interior design. While we were there, we started to find endless things which we wanted to bring back to Singapore to furnish our apartment.”
But it wasn’t that easy, and they soon realised that bringing Balinese furniture back from Indonesia to Singapore was tricky. James says, “Shipping was expensive, and getting a container for just the few items we wanted was even more costly. There had to be a better way. We always talked about how we should find a way to share these beautiful items with everyone in Singapore too.”
“The starting point of our adventure was simple: In Singapore, finding furniture means going to Ikea if you want low prices, or to much more expensive shops if you want quality, but between the two, we felt there was a gap in the market for good quality furniture at affordable prices. We also found out that there is also an elitist mentality in the furniture industry that only customers that can afford to pay $2,500 are entitled to have a trendy, well-made teak dining table—but there shouldn’t be any reason for that”, says Jade.
“We thought there was room for improvement to make these products accessible, so that was where InBali’s mission was born. We’re aspiring to reduce the margins on our products by ordering quality pieces directly from the local artisans and not having to pay for warehouses while holding inventory. InBali is all about making good designs available and affordable to customers.”
James and Jade tested other shipping and logistics options, and came up with the idea of batching orders together until they filled a whole container, and then shipping over in full to minimise shipping costs to the customer. On top of that, they also minimise their environmental impact by only manufacturing and shipping what is required.
They continued to nail down their concept while still working on their day jobs, but six months ago finally quit employee life to move to Bali and be closer to their providers ahead of their official launch.
On Singapore being the best home (for their business)
Jade says they knew pretty quickly that Singapore was the country of choice for their business. “We first explored our home countries [the UK and France], and we looked at Estonia as well—which looks good but isn’t as cheap and easy as it first appears. Soon it became clear that Singapore was the way ahead.”
“We knew the country as well, having lived there for so long,” James adds. “When it came to tax opportunities and ease of incorporation, Singapore was number one for us.”
Having a Singapore limited liability company (Pte Ltd) also meant flexibility for the two entrepreneurs, allowing them to explore other avenues that made the most of their skillset, such as a web/design and marketing consultancy for smaller brands.
On finding a partner to build their business from scratch
The pair came across Sleek through other Singapore-based expats who had also become entrepreneurs. “I’d had friends who had launched their businesses with Sleek, so we already had a very good impression of Sleek and knew what they could offer”, says Jade. “We had a coffee with Adrien Barthel [one of Sleek’s co-founders], and talked about the process—once he explained it, it seemed almost too easy.”
Cost was also a factor, especially when setting up a business from scratch. “We looked at a few other company secretaries. When I was comparing the different service providers, it was clear that Sleek was the right choice for us. It was low cost compared to other companies, the website and information was easy to navigate, and after speaking to Adrien I really felt like we understood each other.”
James adds, “You could tell that it wasn’t bullshit—they weren’t just trying to screw you!”
The pair now recommend Sleek to any friends looking to start their own ventures. “We have landlords here in Bali who are looking to create a company—we told them we know amazing people who can help you do it.”
Onboarding was a smooth process and managing the company has been simple, even with the relocation overseas. “We love the mailroom, and that someone scans and uploads all the mail sent to our registered address in Singapore. It’s easy to manage, even from far away.”
And what’s next for InBali? They’re getting down to business, in the best of ways. “We’re not the types of entrepreneurs to want to make millions – we want to be doing something we love, and sharing what we love with others.”
“When you’re based in Bali you have so many ideas rising up all the time. For example, I just did my yoga teacher training certification and now I am starting to think about new business projects in that new field too.”
James adds, “But it would be nice to fill up a few containers first!”
Explore the enchanting Balinese inspiration and unique designs of InBali.