Mustafa Abid, a young entrepreneur at heart, is the Founder of Ceylon Artisans, one of the leading jewelry companies in both the Sri Lankan and international markets. He spent his formative years in Burhani Serendib School, where he gained a keen understanding of the world around him. A backbencher of his time, he was never quite interested in studies, preferring instead to travel and participate in sports such as basketball, swimming, and badminton regularly, as well as CrossFit sessions. After completing his Advanced Levels, the value of an education to his parents cleared the way for him to apply at the Royal Institute of Colombo and eventually graduate with a Bachelors in Business and Management in three years.
After his graduation, he was offered three different jobs. One of the jobs was at Antyra Solutions, apart from the educational institution and the jewelry store. At Antyra, he was offered a position allowing him to gain great exposure, but his uncle advised him to apply for a job at a Jewelry Factory near Waduwa, stating that the pay wasn’t great but the exposure he would receive was significant. Mustafa was advised on how to manage the large group at the factory, including their personalities, as well as the total experience he would obtain, so he moved on to work as a marketing executive for the following year and a half. Mustafa worked in a factory that makes jewelry for top brands in Sri Lanka, and while he was there, he was given the task of starting a B2C because the markups would be much higher, so he created an online page and learned how the online system works, how the jewelry market works, how markups are calculated, and so on.
Mustafa went over every aspect during his time there, but a year later, there were some conflicts with the board of directors as he had strong beliefs about the job, so he left the factory because he couldn’t work under someone. His only advantage was the expertise he gained from his career in the jewelry industry. Before his departure, the factory had a production manager who was well-versed in the market, and he, too, had left owing to disputes. Mustafa then spoke with him about his ambition and received his backing, preparing his workshop, and Ceylon Artisans was established in 2018
Although the brand was created, Mustafa was a one-man army at the time, doing all of the work himself. During the epidemic, his company grew rapidly because it was completely based on an online platform that made purchases simple. Many customers have asked why they should buy from him instead of other high-end jewelers in the market, and Mustafa has responded that his overheads are modest, allowing him to offer better prices and a higher level of quality. The team at Ceylon Artisans is now a total of seven since they were established.
He can provide his customers a 3D vision of what their finished piece of jewelry will look like, as well as its weight and stone size, using CAD Design and once the consumers are content with it, a 3D model of the piece is made to show how it might seem in metal. The first and most important thing, he says, is to provide clients with personalized service. Because he solely requires rich content, he purchased a high-end camera so that the product photographs would be detailed, as his entire system is built on visuals that Mustafa takes himself.
When asked how the brand transitioned from retail to export business, Mustafa says his main focus is on his consumers and how satisfied they are with Ceylon Artisan. They are entitled to the refurbishing of their jewelry pieces once they have made a purchase, even if it has been forty years, which is an important consideration when buying from Ceylon Artisan. He goes on to say that if you look at the brand’s social media accounts, you’ll notice that the content is more premium when compared to other local stores. This is how they can maintain a high standard in terms of social exposure.
He explains that the most important thing to learn about the jewelry industry is that there is a significant cost difference between international prices and Sri Lankan prices because labor is extremely cheap here, and factories are already producing products for international customers, so they are aware of the international quality that is expected. Mustafa, on the other hand, was afflicted by this phobia when it came to contacting international clients. He goes on to state that the brand is known for blue sapphires, and that as a result, a better package is supplied than what international buyers can get in their nations. However, the brand has yet to approach any of the aforementioned clients; instead, they find the brand’s social media accounts and inquire about the jewelry. In a nutshell, Mustafa’s shift was solely based on word of mouth, as he is a member of BNI (Business Network International), a group of Sri Lankan entrepreneurs who meet once a week to discuss business issues.
Mustafa returns to the reason he founded Ceylon Artisan when asked what empowering advice he would provide to a young adult. He emphasizes that, because of technological advancements, anyone can now establish a business. His only piece of advice is to take risks with your decision because there are so many people wanting to work with newcomers. In short, he states that his dream is for every household to acquire a piece of Ceylon Artisans’ jewelry.
Speaking on the diamond’s uniqueness, he discusses how each diamond is hand-picked by him to provide clients with a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry. He underlines the fact that Ceylon Artisans began with no funds and has come a long way to where it is now, adding that the brand has never taken out a loan and has only managed to stay afloat by retaining profits. Mustafa also emphasizes the importance of noting that the company has climbed to greater standards without assistance, as they export their jewelry pieces all over the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Denmark. Mustafa goes on to say that his success is due to the role a beloved priest plays in his community, emphasizing that his parents, his mentors Yusuf Hussain and Quaizaar Rehmanjee, beloved wife, and daughter have all helped him get to where he is now. In summary, he speaks on a quote that continues to inspire him, “a failure is an option, if things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”