A designer and an entrepreneur walk into a bar; and the bartender says, ‘Hey, we’ve got no more chairs left’; so they put their heads together to make the best seat that there is, and end up starting a beanbag company. Okay, that’s a really terrible joke; but, we think it makes an excellent beginning for a business. The ApiHappi story began on that fateful day when our co-founders Aparna and Etosha crossed paths at a bar. Of course, they hit it off a little too well for it to be only a lifelong romance; they had to start a business together bringing ApiHappi beanbags into the world, all the while raising an army of furry hooligans to make the journey even more fun.
ApiHappi is where Aparna’s mad skills in pattern-making and Etosha’s entrepreneurial sixth sense come together. Although we first started making string bags that let people carry things around, we soon moved into beanbags that allowed people to sit around— a step in the right direction for everyone. From our first-ever order from a friend in Wyoming, to where we are now, there are many people, moves, and improvements that helped ApiHappi become THE beanbag from the tropics. Set on a mission to change how people saw beanbags (basically, as gaudy, non-functional leftovers from the 1970s), we worked on adopting a new and improved ergonomic shape that gave great neck and back support. This shape is what came to be known as the iconic ApiHappi beanbag that many people love. Our colour philosophy of keeping it big, bright and bold, also made people fall in love with beanbags again, bringing Api Happi to homes, offices, recreational spaces, cafés, hotels, and even some super chilled-out weddings.
Our co-founders sharing a sort-of obsession for handloom fabrics meant that ApiHappi beanbag covers are always made with fantastic handwoven cotton. Woven entirely on a hand-operated wooden loom by village artisans, durable, comfortable, and with crazy possibilities in colour, we always believed in the global potential of the local handloom craft. We’re loving how Sri Lankan handlooms have now become a defining part of the ApiHappi comfort; and, how they are getting more and more attention from people all over the world, as they notice this magical fabric that looks and feels like the tropics with bold, bright colours and a special kind of warmth. We’re always looking to make things even better; and currently, we are testing ways to collect and purify cigarette butts to be upcycled as beanbag filling, stopping them from polluting our earth and waterways.
Something that makes all the hard work and energy that we put into ApiHappi worthwhile, is seeing how our orders support many artisans and small-time producers like Kalyani— our sewing extraordinaire. Instead of channeling all our savings to set up a big old factory to pump out beanbags, we opted for community-sourced production allowing artisans and makers to work from home, in control of their time and pace, with room to really deliver their very best. And, it works great! We ourselves manage the cutting of the beanbag fabrics in our workshop in Nawala, with Aparna breathing down our backs making sure her master beanbag patterns are followed to micrometer precision.
Right now, ApiHappi beanbags are being shipped, loved, and enjoyed worldwide. We’re really proud of ApiHappi becoming a Sri Lankan island story that has been welcomed into homes and hearts all over the world. Of course, world domination is high up in our intentions to do what we do (we’re not shy about it); but, we’re seriously driven by the way in which our work supports the artisans and makers that we work with. It’s what really completes ApiHappi’s story as a feel-good one touching and changing the lives of many.