About Ian Snow: how it began in India, as told by India... | Q&A

Hi India, thanks for talking to me. How are you?
I am wicked thank you.

Before we jump right in, how would you describe Ian Snow – both the person and the products – to anyone who hadn’t heard the name before?
Ian is a younger day hippy turned latter day eccentric. His two passions in life are India (the country) and running. He has been a vegetarian since the age of 18 and a vegan since his mid-20s, which is something he feels very strongly about. Ian Snow the brand - handmade, fairtrade, bohemian. Handmade because we source only products that are hand crafted and aren’t mass produced by machines in factories. Fair-trade because we abide by the 10 principles of fair-trade and are a registered member of BAFTS (British association of fair-trade shops) and bohemian because we refuse to conform, and we offer unusual products.

So can you tell us a bit about what Ian’s life was like before the business came about?
The young Ian was a photography student college dropout, he was unable to hold down a job (he was sacked from his job as a librarian as he refused to wear shoes) so he hitchhiked to India at 18. It all began on that initial trip to India where he brought products back to sell to finance his next trip etc. etc. ad infinitum.

How did Ian go from traveling India and the world to starting his own business?
As above, he opened his first shop in Liverpool selling whole foods, bric a brac and the stuff he brought back from India. Then, after one of his Indian trips, he decided to up sticks to wales to live in the middle of nowhere and started selling on markets in mid wales. Then he opened a shop in mid wales. And then another. And then another. He also used to trade at music festivals such as Glastonbury where there was only himself and one other trader, oh how things have changed!  Eventually, due to the quantities of goods he was now importing he had to start wholesaling to other shops.

Obviously the country of India has had a big influence in the life of both the business and the Snow family, you are named after the place after all. So how would you say India as a place has influenced the company across the years?
The products embody the culture and people of India, which we adore! There is no place on the world like it.

What type of a contribution do you have, being the daughter of Ian Snow, to the business? What would you say your favourite part of it all is?
Being at college it is difficult to become too stuck into the business on a day to day basis (unfortunately) yet throughout education I have always managed to attend every single trade fair (both selling and buying) from a very early age. I absolutely love exhibiting at trade shows in Birmingham, meeting all our customers and setting up the stand. At the trade shows in India and Germany i help my mum with buying decisions and meet all our suppliers / also visit factories. I also give my input to the social media/website side of things and whenever help is needed I’m around!

You’ve seen parts of the world I could only dream of visiting because of the business. Where would you say was your favourite place that you have had the chance to see because of it and why?
For the business I have been to India (Jaipur/Noida/Delhi/Panipat) Germany - Frankfurt and France - Paris. Of course my favourite place has to be India. Although it can be really stressful when you’re there I feel I have a real connection with the people and the place - like my dad.

As a brand, Ian Snow prides itself in handmade, Fairtrade and ethical products. Why would you say this is so important to you all?
Each of our products has to of had some love put into it by the artisan that made it. For us, we have to love what we sell for it to be enjoyable, despite it not being as commercial as mass produced, nondescript homewares.

Finally, where would you like to see Ian Snow go from here?
It would be a real shame if my sister or I didn’t take on the business in the future, after growing up being immersed in something that has pretty much shaped our lives. For me, I would love to see the brand continue to grow, both wholesaling and retailing. We recently launched a new retail website which hopefully will become a great success and I would like us to exhibit at more international trade fairs to expand the wholesale side of the business. My sister and I have always dreamed for a shop in London, so perhaps that will be on the horizon in the future. To help us maintain our fair-trade status it would be beneficial to visit every single supplier of ours every few years to check they are an ethically run fair trading company, so I would travel around with my dad to do this. Hopefully, we can take Ian Snows to the next level, and become more well-known and successful.

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