“Growing up in my mother’s house surrounded by family heirlooms was my early introduction to the world of antiques”, enunciates Irangi Kalugampitiya, Founder and Owner of Vintage Home Gallery. She expressed that the only forte she and her mother ever acquiesced on or shared was their love of and admiration for antiques.
Her mother’s own refusal to part with her furniture left Irangi little choice other than to buy her own at a very young age. From the first client check she received while running her own PR and Creative agency, she purchased a Sinhala Pettagama. Her collection grew without her even realizing it, outgrowing the space, and thus Vintage Home Gallery was established.
Well ahead of the digital revolution, Vintage Home Gallery has endured for six years on Social Media, the first-ever antique store in Sri Lanka to sell on a social media platform. Although it was initiated as a pilot project in the veranda of the home she shares with her husband, it has expanded to retail and warehousing. An industry that was very closely knit, with few dealers and few sellers, has become more engaging with more and more dealers with greater accessibility to antiques. Irangi’s futuristic vision and flair for business, passion for antiques, and attention to detail have transformed her into the successful entrepreneur she is today.
Vintage Home Gallery creates a niche with Jaffna pieces and works with over 27 suppliers islandwide, with two workshops for restoration and polishing work. The notion “one’s trash is another’s treasure”, is one Irangi has taken quite seriously into account when reproducing upcycled products such as lamps and other tabletop objects. Within the few years of being in the business, Vintage Home Gallery has created a significant brand presence and visibility and forayed into the market parallel to a few other market leaders that have been in the trade for generations or decades.
Irangi recounts that her success has been her attention to detail and upholding her brand promise of “what you see is exactly what you get,” has won over clients’ trust, as buying online is as challenging as selling and trust in any business is the key essence to success. “There are sellers
where the front of their piece is beautifully polished, but its back is all damaged and unrestored. I sell only genuine pieces. As a result, my clients trust me to give them something genuine and worthwhile,” Irangi added.
According to Irangi, clients differ based on their interests. For example, construction-related clients are a one-time extended period of business, which lasts until their construction or home building. On the other hand, her most devoted clients are the collectors, who have an eye for the
colonial details and the thirst to fill their homes with so many valuable pieces in every corner. “If you are passionate about the business, passion attracts passion,” she remarked. However, she feels that the industry needs a regulatory body. The pandemic induces a more significant online
market activity because lots have lost incomes from their regular jobs or tourist-related businesses, which means lots don’t know what they are selling and don’t know what they are buying. She annotated, “The market in the years to come will perhaps see more reproductions than genuine pieces as antiques once sold are sold! Some articles I found when I started the business I can’t find anywhere now.”
The passionate entrepreneur has plans for a global presence for Vintage Home Gallery. She eventually will hand it over to her daughter as a 21st birthday gift, who’s already well on her way towards becoming an entrepreneur.