Fairtrade in Sri Lanka

Jessica from the Danaqa team recently visited Sri Lanka to find out more about some of the great ethical and sustainable brands on the island, working to preserve handicrafts and support rural women.

Selyn

Founded in 1991, Selyn is a Fair Trade Guaranteed handloom company that engages nearly 1000 members of the traditional community of handloom weavers in the village of Wanduragala in Kurunegala.  A declining industry, Selyn is working to revive the ancient skills and heritage of handweaving and extend its benefits to rural women and men, to empower them financially and allow for a comfortable standard of living.  All products are 100% cotton and dyed in an environmentally friendly way at the company's dye plant, which includes a garden free to use by the employees, allowing them to take produce home to their families. The company also provides creche facilities, enabling mothers to continue to work.  The toys produced by Selyn are made both in the company's factory and by a network of home workers, allowing them to earn a living from the comfort of their own homes.  Selyn is a fantastic example of a company giving flexibility to employees to fit their lives, respect for the environment, preservation of traditional skills, whilst producing beautiful, well-made products.

Selyn products will be coming to our Danaqa store soon!

Island Craft Sri Lanka

The Island Craft initiative was created by the Academy of Design (AOD International Design Campus) to support local artisans and cottage industry in small villages through contemporary design collaborations. Island Craft focuses on keeping the handicraft legacy alive, while allowing artisans to lead self-sustained livelihoods. Their traditional artisan communities produce exquisitely handcrafted textiles, basketry and utensils from their humble cottages. The project supports engaged artisans by providing guidance to make quality products that meet international design standards while staying true to local techniques.With products ranging from Palmyrah items produced from the Northern Province, Handloom textiles from Gampaha, Batik, Kithul, Coconut and other Wooden carvings from the Central and Southern Province, Knitware items from Northern Province and many more.

Good Market

We were so happy to discover the Good Market, which takes place in Colombo and Galle every Saturday.  It is such a great initiative to see and you can find out more about their mission and a full list of vendors on their website.

"The Good Market wants to make it easier and more fun to “do good” and make better choices for our planet, our communities, and our health.   It is a platform where socially and environmentally responsible producers, services providers, and consumers can come together.

Sri Lanka has many organic farmers, social enterprises, and responsible businesses that are creating products and services that are eco-friendly, socially responsible, and healthy.  It also has many well-educated consumers that want to feed their families natural and organic food and choose products and services that match their values.  The Good Market is a place for these groups to meet."

 Handcrafted bags and baskets from Pulathisi at Good Market.

Handcrafted bags and baskets from Pulathisi at Good Market.

WEAVE by Chrysalis

WEAVE is a collaborative effort to support the businesses of women in Thunnkkai and Pandiyankulam, two small villages in the North of Sri Lanka.  The women have come together to create hand-weaving workshops.  They are committed to reviving the handloom industry in the North, once a thriving source of income and creativity.  Their ultimate aim is to build their business in order to provide a better quality of life for their families and communities; WEAVE is helping to link them to new markets and aid in growing the businesses.

 WEAVE by Chrysalis products at Good Market, Colombo

WEAVE by Chrysalis products at Good Market, Colombo

Barefoot

Established 50 years ago by Barbara Sansoni, Barefoot is perhaps the most well-known ethical brand in Sri Lanka.  They work almost exclusively with women, teaching skills and quality to handweavers and stitchers.  The products are produced in small workshops, most of which are in the countryside, allowing the women to stay in their rural locations, whilst still having the opportunity to work and earn fair wages.  The cotton, silk and wool fibres are all hank dyed and woven by hand.  Their flagship store in Colombo is a must visit, with floors of beautiful products and a lovely courtyard cafe.

 Information about Barefoot on display at their Colombo store

Information about Barefoot on display at their Colombo store

It is so inspiring to see such great fair trade initiatives, both old and new, existing in the small island of Sri Lanka. With respect for the environment, providing sustainable livelihoods to people and offering great design and wonderful colours, we hope to return very soon!