In a male dominant corporate world, women find it a struggle to overcome shadows of being forced to take a back seat. For decades in Sri Lanka, female workers have worked head to head with their more popular male coworkers to nail employment advances, higher pay and “business” travel. No wonder, women are known to be the more dramatic gender. We never get a chance! Eventually, shit gets real and women will opt to achieve more. (We have all worked for Darth Vader at some point in our lives right?)
What has all this got to do with being a stormtrooper?
Everyone knows that stormtroopers shoot to miss. Is it strategic or just sucking at their jobs? We will never know. Women on the other hand- DON’T miss. Every detail is taken in carefully to plan out strategic goals. Missions and visions. Living in a third world country has only helped women aspire to be more than an average dreamer. Why? We have little resources, and having most of it controlled by a mismanaged system – opportunities are limited. There are many retail goddesses in the fashion industry who have started off from the scratch with limited financial support. Yet, through the years, they developed some of Sri Lanka’s best retail stores and eventually created a brand name.
The millennials Sri Lanka is full of young and energetic Millenials who are business minded. There are literally hundreds of women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka. Their bad ass strategic planning to start a business – that will not only work well with our culture, they also know how to entice their target market pretty well. ( hello, Instagram ! ) From Online businesses, retail stores, digital marketing, and restaurants – Sri Lankan business women have flourished over the past few years.
Here are ‘our’ top 5 young and successful business women in Sri Lanka
Amilani Perera Designer Label by Amilani Perera
Amilani began her career as a designer at MAS holdings. Since then she has successfully started her own designer label, with unique pieces, targeted at our fashionable youth (man, seriously all Sri Lankan men are looking super-hot these days). Her designer brand is often featured at the CFW for its brilliance and sassy style, loved by fashionistas.
Amilani took a break from a busy schedule to speak about her success
I always wanted to become a fashion designer since I was 13 years old and when I had a fascination for drawing Art.One of my goals in life was to have my very own sleek fashionable high-end ready-to-wear fashion brand. In the year 2006, my first year in Fashion College I was chosen as one of the top ten finalists for a Singapore competition ‘Denim Deconstruction’ project, organized by GAS Jeans and Catalogue Fashion Magazine.My designs have been featured in the Catalogue Fashion Magazine that season. This made me realize that I chose the right path for my career. It all came true when I successfully launched my brand titled ‘amilani perera’ (www.amilaniperera.com) in Colombo Fashion Week 2013 and since then I have been retailing at Melaché fashion boutique, Colombo 04 till date. Currently I have my own production facilities which produce all the unique design pieces in Sri Lanka. It’s a tough job being a female entrepreneur in a ‘man’s world’. I strongly believe that my success lies with the industry experience and the educational backing I had when I launched my brand. Studying fashion design in a foreign country and having a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion & Textile Design awarded by LASALLE College of Arts, Singapore in 2009, and also working as a design consultant for “Hanes” Lingerie brand at Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited India , possessing four and half years of experience in the Sri Lankan apparel industry, having been employed at MAS Holdings, as a lingerie designer, for Amanté lingerie brand have been my main strengths to sustain in this industry as a female entrepreneur.
Rum Punch by Rukshika Fernando
Rukshika began her career as a designer as Mas Holdings at a very young age. She grew to study the industry through experience and co-founded her brand Rum punch with her husband. Rum punch is Sri Lanka’s first branded swimwear range that has gained international recognition for its quirky summer style.
Butter Boutique by Rukshi Nethicumara
Having started off at the good market a few years ago- Butter Boutique has come a very long way from baking delicious chocolate cakes. The café is designed with a self-serving option for customers and offers some of the best of cakes in town. If you don’t believe us just have a look at their Facebook and Instagram pages. The café looks heavenly with its floral wallpaper, classic vintage porcelain and cozy furniture. We definitely love what Rukshi has done with her café and that’s why she is in our top 5 on the rise.
Limited edition by Suvindili Fernando
Suvindili Fernando has been a busy lady since 2013. She founded Limited Edition as an online store selling unique pieces of Jewelry via Social media. Since then, limited edition has grown in business orders by many women across the island. Limited edition also opened its first store in Colombo, along with a website to serve their customers better.
Suvindili took sometime off to speak about her success
I am Suvindili Fernando, age 25 a past Visakhian, fashion lover, designer, entrepreneur, social innovator, dreamer, I love what I do and I am committed to making a difference. LE started off as an online store with a very small inventory. Now we have expanded to our own personal outlet at Liberty Plaza, Colombo 03, giving our customers the added flexibility to pick and choose items from the store itself. When I was a teen the norm was to wear stereo typical jewelry, mostly gold. Experimenting was never an option. I was rebellious. I was bursting to express myself and create my own identity. Be bold and stand out. Be able to accessorize according to my mood and my preference. I want my customers to create their own identity. I want to enable them to stand out. If there is one thing I love about LE it is the happiness of my customers who adorn LE jewelry and feel proud about themselves. The main reason why LE is a huge success today is because I chose to do what truly makes me happy. LE gives me the opportunity to connect with such wonderful people who are my customers. I truly believe in the quote “Do what you love. Love what you do” As a woman it could get tough be a business woman as the society expects you to sit back and run a family instead. With a good support system around you and great passion it is always possible to chase your dreams. You just have to be strong and get what you want!
Podi Jobs by Yusra Aziz
Yusra Aziz founded Podi Jobs, as a young mother who believed that women should also be given a chance to work from home – even though motherhood has demanded otherwise. Her ideas and values also found the business to be the middleman(woman) – between the employer and the employee, securing both parties with successful agreements. She also founded a charity foundation to empower Sri Lankan women and single low-income families through the proceeds of these agreements with the employer.
Yusra spent some time off her busy schedule briefing how she began Podi Jobs,
I’m first and foremost a mum, I used to work in the IT industry as a Business Consultant/ Analyst, had to leave due to unforeseen circumstances and lack of flexibility. After I had my kids, I looked to return to work, but remote working, as going physically to a location was out of the question with the children around. My search locally for legitimate freelance jobs wasn’t successful and I ended up freelancing for international companies and start ups. Meanwhile I met loads of qualified, smart mums who opted to stay at home because they wanted to be directly involved in their kids’ lives. Many had hit a brick wall when it came to opportunity and a few lost out on their transfers with bank/service charges when transferring leaving them with nothing after putting in all that effort. This inspired the idea of PODI JOBS.
Ladies, we have come a long way from being just the object of someone’s affection. It is time to embrace who we are, find our inspirations and aspire to be true leaders (and build a death star that cannot be destroyed for the 4th time) – so we can leave behind a legacy for the next generation.Go girl power!