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Back of Beyond Agro: Where sustainable agriculture meets eco-tourism

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Back of Beyond is a name synonymous with sustainable eco-tourism and nature-conservation in Sri Lanka. The company was created over 12 years ago by Yohan Weerasuriya who is a passionate conservationist and agronomist. His vision was to demonstrate that eco-tourism, nature-conservation and sustainable agriculture can work hand in hand. With five eco-retreats around Sri Lanka as well as a nature-conservancy and an organic farm in Sigiriya – he is well on the way to realising his goal.

History:

Having had an interesting childhood with a father, Nihal Fernando, who was one of Sri Lanka’s prominent wildlife photographers, Yohan fell in love with the beauty, charm and simplicity of rural Sri Lanka at a young age. Back of Beyond eco-retreats harkens back to the experiences he loved as a child, and allows guests from the world over, to enjoy these qualities that can be found in Sri Lanka’s countryside and wilderness. A stay at Back of Beyond offers the rare luxuries of peace, solitude and proximity to nature. Back of Beyond properties are always unpretentious and minimalist, surrounded by lush natural landscapes showcasing the beauty of rural Sri Lanka where guests are served with beautiful village smiles and the trademark hospitality that Lankan villagers are known for.

After spending 10 years building up his eco-tourism business and having expanded to five locations around the island, Yohan was able to focus his efforts on one of his dreams a couple of years ago when he launched Back of Beyond Conservancy, which has ambitious plans to protect and conserve the wildlife habitat and forests which surrounds Back of Beyond Wild Haven in Dehigaha Ela. In 2017, having purchased many acres of private forests and abandoned paddy fields, Yohan also purchased some agricultural land adjacent to the eco-retreat in Dehigaha Ela, thus began the Back of Beyond organic farm. It has been a learning experience since then, and the farm which spreads over two acres is now a sight to behold – full of rows of fresh vegetables, a fruit orchard and a section for edible leaves & herbs – all of which are transported to the Back of Beyond properties in Sigiriya, to be turned into all manners of tantalising local dishes for very appreciative guests.

Back of Beyond is loved not only for the amazing natural landscapes within which they operate but also the magical nature-based activities which are part and parcel of the Back of Beyond experience. The team works hard to ensure the experiences are creative and as unique as possible, offering a taste of something that busy urban city-dwellers crave the most – peace, solitude and the sense of calm that can always be found in nature.

Some of the most popular experiences at Back of Beyond are the Magical Sunset Boatride and the Chena Tour and Rustic Breakfast Under the Trees in Sigiriya. During the Magical Boatride, guests are gently paddled away on a pontoon across the quiet waters of a village tank which overlooks the might Sigiriya & Pidurangala rocks. Guided by an experienced naturalist, the experience lasts a couple of hours allowing the guests to take in the picturesque surrounds and breath-taking tranquillity, while watching the many types of water birds and birds of prey, as they go about their daily lives.

The Chena Tour & Rustic Breakfast Under the Trees allows guests to get up close to the operations of a dry-zone Chena farm. A tour of the Back of Beyond organic farm is truly memorable, complete with a tour of the vegetable patches, fruit & herb orchard, a little fresh water stream which is the farm’s water-source and the charming chena hut where the farmer who is a local villager cooks up delicious rustic meals for visitors. At the end of the tour, guests are treated to a traditional local village breakfast of freshly boiled Manioc, Kochchi Sambol (loved by locals for its fieriness!), Pol Roti (coconut roti) with Lunu Miris (chili & onion sambol) & Curries to be washed down with soothing Pol Pala herbal tea, followed by a plate of luscious tropical fruits. All the fresh produce comes directly from the farm itself, which adds to the appeal. If guests wish, they may also purchase any fresh produce that is available for harvesting on the day.

These nature-based experiences take the Back of Beyond experience to the next-level, with guests often recommending it to their family & friends or even on the odd occasion, wanting to join the Back of Beyond team themselves so that they could live the Back of Beyond life every day!

Covid-19

With the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, Back of Beyond too was forced to close its doors to the public. While most were fenced in within the boundaries of their walls in urban homes, we realised that many of our neighbours around our properties in Sigiriya who were rural farmers, were going through a much more difficult time than us. Having invested their time, energy and money into their small-scale crops over many months, they were now left with no way of obtaining acceptable prices for their produce, as the wholesale markets were closed down periodically. In the meantime, there were many we knew of in Colombo, who were unable to access fresh vegetables and fruit for their daily consumption!

That’s when we realised that we could in fact come to the assistance of both the farmers as well as residents in Colombo. Within a matter of days, Back of Beyond Agro which was launched the previous year, started raising awareness of the plight of small-scale dry-zone farmers in Sigiriya and together with a team of staff who were ready to jump into this new and exciting venture, commenced marketing fresh produce from Sigiriya to very grateful customers in Colombo and the outer suburbs. Since April 2020, Back of Beyond Agro has been sourcing fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs & spices directly from farmers in Sigiriya and delivering it to customers in Colombo and the outer suburbs whilst following stringent safety protocols as set out by the health authorities.

So far Back of Beyond Agro has delivered thousands of Vegetable Packs, Fruit Packs and Essentials Packs, loved for contents like fresh turmeric, ginger, and tamarind, which are sometimes difficult to find in Colombo. In addition, Back of Beyond has been delivering much loved fresh produce from the rural countryside like juicy mangos, organic bananas, organic edible leaves including Gotukola, Mukunuwenna, Sarana & Kankun and Mint as well as rare delicacies like Yellow Sweet Potato (Kaha Bathala), sought after not just for the delicious taste, but also the high nutritional content.

Since the end of the lockdown, many customers urged Back of Beyond Agro to continue supplying their weekly grocery needs and so a truck-full of fresh produce still comes from Sigiriya each Thursday, bringing with it all that is needed to satisfy the needs of at least 50 – 60 households each week. With each delivery, the loyal fan base of Back of Beyond Agro slowly increased, due to the freshness of the produce (being purchased the day before delivery) and high quality but also because it directly helps the farmers by enabling them to sell their produce at a good price.

The art of life as they say, is a constant readjustment to our surroundings and Charles Darwin once said “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Back of Beyond is a company which has been able to demonstrate that it is not only necessary to “change with the times” but the process can be a quite fun and fulfilling – full of learning experiences, building new relationships and creating satisfaction, happiness and joy for the people around.

For their adaptability, creativity and innovation in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, Back of Beyond Agro was awarded the second prize, in the ‘Crisis Flexibility Challenge’ led by Good Life X – an International Entrepreneurship Program from Germany.

Future:

Back of Beyond Agro plans to launch its own range of value-added goods in the coming weeks and months including Curd, Kithul Treacle, sun-dried vegetables like tomato, eggplant and bitter-gourd, as well as a range of preserved fresh produce. There are also plans afoot to create an assortment of jams, chutneys and the much loved local ‘achcharu’ with a modern twist.

In a world becoming weary of the ‘rat-race’ culture with its constant competitiveness, with little regard to ethics, community empowerment or the power of relationships, Back of Beyond is a testament that goodness can prevail in the business world of tourism and agriculture, when your motivation springs from the right place.

With a small but loyal pool of regular customers and the power of word of mouth, amplified by social media, Back of Beyond Agro is becoming a trusted name with homemakers who are eager to access fresh, high quality fresh produce.

A website is currently being worked on so that more customers can experience the story of Back of Beyond Agro and in the meantime, you can contact them via their Facebook page @backofbeyondagro or by calling 077 700 2487 for more information.



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Features

The Boss Up Story

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Boss Up isn’t merely a brand name. It’s a manifestation of resilience and inner power in the form of a branding and social media marketing agency. Hafsa Killru, the Founder of Boss Up has a personal story and determination to ‘boss up’ that propelled her to launch her own venture to empower entrepreneurship, especially among small businesses.

Beginnings

The environment one grows up in has a remarkable effect on a young child’s mind. Watching two strong women in the family redefine the role of feminine power, a young Hafsa grew up ambitious too. Although brimming with the desire to create a change, her childhood was fraught with challenges that plague many children today – bullying. She was subject to severe bullying since the tender age of 10 at her places of education, which affected both her mental and physical health.

“I never fit in anywhere. I was never welcome among the cliques. But I didn’t let it affect my confidence. Keeping my circle small helped me stay focused on my studies. I’d spend this time alone in school libraries, often reading encyclopedias,” says Hafsa. “The bullying worsened in my teenage years. I was lonely but it worked out in my favour because I was never, and still not, someone who worries about ‘what will others say’ — a key obstacle in many people’s lives. Not having many friends meant I was not under peer pressure. This allowed me to be my authentic self.”

Hafsa’s writing career began quite unexpectedly when she was 17. Not only is she a content writer but also a poet who writes evocatively about mental health, healing and empowerment. But this didn’t come by easily either.

During her higher studies, those she considered to be her friends tried to crush her growth mindset, which eventually took a toll on her. It was only when she managed to remove herself from such environments did she become more self-aware and regain her confidence, thanks to the solitude it brought into her life.Yet again, a new set of obstacles awaited her in her early 20s. In 2019, she was turned down by over 20 companies within three months alone, which led to deep frustration and self-doubt. Although she had freelancing opportunities, the lockdown only added to her troubles.

But that’s when something clicked into place – an idea so obvious, so big and so right for her that Hafsa knew it was what all these adversities were pushing her towards. She realised the lockdown was putting undue pressure on businesses and it needed a solution. Especially small businesses were struggling to go online and create a sustainable brand, and that too at an affordable rate. How could they compete with incumbent brands with massive budgets and breakthrough technologies? She sought to give them the edge they needed and thus, Boss Up was born in October 2020.

“Inviting change, taking charge of the situation and choosing to do something on my own has to be, although scary, the most liberating decision I have ever made,” admits Hafsa. “The lockdown wasn’t the time for businesses to go silent. They needed business and marketing solutions that would help them overcome the situation.”

In today’s contemporary business world, a business of any size will only be running a losing race if it hasn’t developed a strong social media presence or a clear brand strategy. Hence, Boss Up ensures equal opportunities are given to entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

One and a half years into the business, Boss up is now global with its wings spread across countries like the UK, Canada, Dubai, Qatar, the Maldives and Australia, and is backed by a strong team of young and passionate minds.

The Purpose

Boss Up’s primary goal is to uplift entrepreneurs. The brand is also a strong advocate for inner power, confidence and resilience — the three main driving forces of ambition. It intends to help people who hail from struggling backgrounds; the ones who are inundated with a lack of support, seek self-sufficiency and are hungry to design a unique identity for themselves.The brand also strives to treat everyone at work with compassion and empathy whilst leading with kindness as it is crucial to reform work cultures that are hazardous to oneself.

Reach out to HAfsa via Instagram @hafsa_killru @bossup_srilanka or email bossup_srilanka@gmail.com.

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Features

The Switch of Trend in Fashion After the Pandemic 2022

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There has been an immense change in the Industry of Fashion after the pandemic struck us all hard. Currently, the trends of fashion have also taken a big turn towards affordable fashion trending styles and outfits. The Fashion boom has grown to become steadily slow for the seasonal styles and basic needs of clothing as well.

The current scenario of fashion life is always at a peak, and even after the Covid-19 pandemic, we have still seen slow growth in the need for fashion. There are of course certain aspects that have affected the industry and declined surplus. However, fashion and clothing have become a BASIC need for humans across the globe.

From shopping high-end couture to higher brand apparel, the trend has shifted to move on to sustainable clothing and organic clothing pieces. For example, we have become more aware of locally produced clothing brands and organic fabrics of our country. Made in India clothing and brands are emerging at a higher graph.Let’s take a look at the Current Change in Fashion Trends due to Pandemic 2022

Sustainable Outfits After the Pandemic

This is something most have been finding a basic need in clothing. Spending over and over again on the same kinds of clothing has and will reduce in the future. Buying clothing and fashion pieces that last for longer is the key to saving more than before. Buying pieces like basic Tees, Pants which may be styled over and over again is what the trend is shifting towards.

Budget Range of Fashion Brands are Accepted higher

Since the ban of Rowme and Shein-like brands and online websites in India, other national brands have started to make affordable fashion pieces for their customers. Styles and trends of fashion in the budget are what the people will be looking out for since the economic growth of people has dropped. Investing in fashion will never end until there will be a supply, the only difference is the budget range brands have a huge change of acceptance now since the pandemic.

Change of Styles worn to Work or Office Fashion after the Pandemic

Since the depression, people may have just stopped feeling happier may want to take the effort to dress like before. Styles of fashion in a simple and classy fashion will emerge largely than before. Choosing Plains or Solids overprints and pattern or neutrals over new trending colors and the print patterns is being seen for workwear fashion.

Change of Trends and Styles for Indian Festival Wear after the Pandemic

In the same way as the above point mentions, dressing special occasions will take a shift. Looking at the financial conditions currently, customers will be buying lesser for Festive wear than before. Styling the same pieces with a change of new additions of budget festive wear will be trending. Sarees and salwar suits in silks, choosing cotton, and linen kurta sets over the designer trends are to be seen this year during Indian festivals.

Choosing Budget Wedding Wear Over Designer Wedding Wear

When it comes to weddings, the cost goes to the highest for any customer. But the pandemic has changed how weddings will be taking place. The cost of weddings has declined drastically and shopping for Indian weddings has grown to choose mid-range wedding wear over high-end designer wear. Saving more during weddings, styles of lehengas, sarees, shalwar suits, or sherwanis for weddings that are in mid-range is a new trend.

From styling men’s kurta suits styles for the basic function of weddings to choosing classic or budget range sarees and suits for the bride’s ceremonies will take up a new fashion trend look. Making a choice of ONE heavy wear Lehenga and Sherwani may be what the soon-to-wed couples be looking for.Designer wear which can be restyled or reused and worn for other occasions and weddings is also a trend to grow rapidly. Saving much more for the bridal and groom’s outfit looks.

Shopping Online Increased for clothing after the Pandemic

The safer way to buy clothing has become a focus for all customers going towards online shopping. The percentage of online buyers has rapidly increased for clothes after the pandemic. From casual wear shopping online to fashion shopping for festivals and weddings, all have become much easier and more convenient for consumers.

Websites and businesses are working to grow even wider with Online Shopping. Connecting with customers personally for their shopping experiences to taking a new addition in budget clothing varieties for the customers is what’s taking place.

Online shopping has become a trend We have set an all-new trend for our customers It brings more trust and safety to customers. Shopping for wedding wear online only gets comfortable for all when sitting back home and shopping Fashion Shopping after the Pandemic via on-line shooping is what keeps all customers happier.

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Captivating streetwear for today’s fashionable girls

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The latest street fashion brand Girls by Dillys under the umbrella of Dilly’s was launched recently introducing trending new pieces to help girls carry the distinct personality and style to be the fashionable girl of today.

Girl by Dilly’s is a creative street fashion brand that focuses on vibrant colors, textures, and prints to bring out the youthful exuberance of today’s girls. The brand has emphasized on contrasting color combinations. The ethos of this brand is creativity and having fun. Girl by Dilly’s is dedicated to the free-spirited girls who have their own super powers and a bold attitude. Girls are encouraged to mix and create unique styles to introduce their own identity in a creative and playful way.

This brand is the new lifestyle for confident girls who love to enjoy freedom, youth and individuality. The brand has different style combinations from casual to evening wear to make the overall look fashionable and completely their own. The brand tagline ‘All about a Girl’ is a reminder to every girl that she is unique and beautiful.

To ensure glam and comfort, all Girl by Dilly’s products are crafted using quality fabrics and technical know-how. The brand offers a wide range of stylish ready-to-wear pieces, from tops, skirts, pants, shorts, dresses, rompers, jump suits, crop tops, and t-shirts. The brand has introduced batik into the collection with a fabulous finishing touch to elevate its signature styles. The brand is also introducing a comfortable t-shirt collection with inspirational slogans and line art to share a positive message with society.

Dilani Wijeyesekera – Director of Girl by Dilly’s stated, “We became aware of a notable gap in today’s market for fashionable streetwear clothing for girls. Today’s new generation of girls have a different youthful energy about them. They are fun, bold, carefree and energetic and they want the whole world to see that. Girl by Dilly’s is perfect for such girls as it helps them find their own identity through our collection of vibrant colours and creative styles that they can mix and match to come up with eye-catching outfits. Every piece of Girl by Dilly’s has the look and feel of fun and vibrancy.”

With the launch, Girl by Dilly’s is providing an introductory offer to all loyalty customers where they can avail themselves to a 15% discount on all products until 7th August 2022, both on online and at the flagship store. A selection of special giveaways has also been lined up in the coming weeks for all social media followers.

For the latest Girl by Dilly’s updates and new releases, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok using @dillyandcarlo. The latest Girl by Dilly’s collections are available at the Flagship Store on the website www.dillyandcarlo.com.

Dilly’s was established in 1987 to cater to Colombo’s desire for high-end designer wear with a local twist. As the company grew, Dilly’s introduced its second brand to the market, this time to cater to menswear. Carlo was established in 2007 and exemplified stylish men’s clothing for all ages. The brand is housing its distinct designer ranges to cater to the entire wardrobe requirement of modern men and women.

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