Remona Oshini understands the nitty gritty of the ever evolving fashion industry. She always experiences with newer trends and styles to keep up with the modern day clientale. But despite all the challenge and changes, the ace fashion designer describes her journey as “exhilarating”.
(Q) When did your passion for fashion arise?
(A) Creativity was in my blood from a very young age but identified fashion as a career at a younger age of fifteen. When I realised my inborn talent, I followed a course in designing soon after my high school education at the Colombo International school. After my London A Levels in Arts I followed a course at the Fashion at London College of Fashion. To be a designer was always my childhood dream
(Q) Whom have you inspired by your designs?
(A) I speak to many women through my designs. My creativity is designing silhouette for all body shapes and sizes. Through my collection and design I am trying to convey a message to the society to accept and appreciate women to help them to reset themselves. Women must be more fashionable, look more confident and presentable. . Proper dressing can make or destroy a women’s personality. In Sri Lanka plus size women carry a stigma of fear that they don’t look good My designs and ensembles always bring out the women in you. Dress smart,dress well and be confident this is my message to every woman. Women The trend among women is to have hour glass figure,to be slim and curvy. . This is all a myth,proper fitted silhouettes can make fashion statement.
(Q) You often believe of the future, being avant-guard. What does it mean to you?
(A) We should make a difference in the world of fashion and design to keep my love for local crafts alive so as to make the world witness the sheer beauty of treasures close to home.
Today we see an outburst of many artisans, arts and crafts, Most of the international fashion shows lay emphasis on local creativity and traditions. Local arts and crafts can be incorporated with style and elegance. The Indian designers make use of thier local artisans for embellishments for added glamour,. We too have such beautiful arts and crafts and I am trying to promote the use of our local crafts in my designing process both locally and internationally. Sri Lankan designers should try to promote our local artisans, value their skills and talents.
We should strive to provide contemporary innovation to age old crafts. My couture and ready -to wear- collections are built around themes showcasing the extra ordinary skills of local artisans in a bid to preserve our rich historylive.
In India most of the designers are working with the craftsman when designing to connect the past with the future. We also should follow this example. My aim is to create a fund to help them to pursue their talent. I feel the local designers must come together to boost and promote our local artisans.
My creations have always been innovative through the western and eastern culture. I also design bridal gowns that are very similar with the west yet have a twist of the traditional eastern culture.
(Q) Your journey with the industry so far?
(A) My journey so far has been interesting. It has definitely gone from strength to strength but by no means it has not easy but there were ups and downs.. Since launching the brand in 2010 at Colombo fashion week platform, I have dipped my fingers in retail business as well as in successful retail events.
Right now I am been working with many international clientele as well. I have hosted many pop ups in US, UK and now planning to move to Middle East like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These are my plans in the pipeline. My organic ready to wear collection in batiks, is definitely a benchmark in the future to showcase Sri Lanka on the international ramp.
I have also recently made a decisive decision to travel the world while working remotely with my Sri Lankan team based here. My focus is to combine my two great passions travel and fashion. I feel it is a challenging task to promote a brand remotely, specially when I undertake to make made to measure orders. I am always available on line anytime and anywhere . The detailed attention I pay to each and every client is very important to me for my business.I label myself myself as a travel designer.
(Q) Do you think the Sri Lankan fashion scene has changed ?
(A) Sri Lankan fashion has changed with times. Creativity has definitely evolved and become better. We are also keeping abreast with international trends. The world of fashion has opened up new horizon not only abroad but in Sri Lanka too. Modern technology has brought about a revolutionary change in fashion
(Q) What do you think are some of the reasons behind your success?
(A) I am resilient and persistent. The word impossible is not in my vocabulary. You say jump, I ask how high? This is the principle I follow to continue my career. There were challenges and obstacles but I take them in good stride.
7) Your highlights of your career?
2010 Launching the brand at Colombo fashion week
2011 Launching our Bridal sector
2014 Asian Fashion week
2015 Launching the retail brand Zudhora as well as hosting retail events for International brands
2021 Launching our Organic Batik collection at The Design Collective Store
8) What are your goals and hopes?
My goal is to travel the world while hosting retail events in the countries I travel. Also I want to popularise my brand name Ramona Oshini around the world.
(Q) How and when did you decide to become a designer?
(A) My foundation was set at London College of fashion and then I wanted to fine tune my craft at Waltham forest college for an HND course in Women’s wear and the I got exempted one year to Join Kent institute of Art and design to finish my BA Fashion course. Then I joined MAS as a junior designer to gain experience in the technical world.
(Q) Who is Ramona Oshini– Tell me about your brand?
(A) The brand Ramona Oshini is purely identified with quality and great design. We now focus mainly on our prét-a-porter collections with signature rose print and other batik prints . We use mostly organic pure silks linens and cottons. My batik collection has a signature style of is own namely breathtakingly beautiful .
(Q) Many designs in contemporary times reflect modern day glamour. What does that mean to you?
(A) Glamour is about confidently showing your style, it means standing on your own feet and explore through the arts of culture it’s the way you present yourself through strong shapes and detailed quality designs.
(Q)What inspires you when you design a new collection?
(A) My Inspiration comes from my travels to the Middle East, South Eastern countries and Europe. Every country I visit excites and inspires me and I capture them in photography . My last collection was inspired by Villa Palladio Jaipur, a vibrant collection with an array of vibrant reds and pinks and checkerboard prints. My next collection will be with many embellishments . to be launched at the Design Collective Stratford avenue branch soon.
Q: Could you describe the essence of your bridal atelier?
A: My silhouettes and sarees always surprise and delight my clients I focus on made to measure bridal and bespoke pieces that merge femininity with elegance and owns one of a land ensemble. I was hooked on colours, shapes and fine detail.
My bridal collection is known for its timeless elegance and craftsmanship. My bridal silhouettes are marked by superb fit, originality and has inimitable style. When creating a bridal gown, magic needs to be woven into the fabric. A bride must fall in love with her dress as it will stay with her forever as part of her history. My gowns and sarees always surprise and delight our clients. Remona Oshini bride or client owns a one of a kind ensemble. The bridal range consists of bespoke sarees, Oshani’s, bridal gowns and silhouettes for retinue as well.
Breaking barriers and shaping successes
Inspirational stories of Shirley Jayawardana
By Zanita Careem
Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world, a statement made by Hilary Clinton that packs quite a punch. It’s obvious that women face many challenges when it comes to establishing them or growing their own business. Shirley Jayawardana has broken the glass ceiling like many others and established herself as a successful business woman.
A die-hard entrepreneur at heart, shirley helps people define what true entrepreneurship is and what it takes to be a leader, and helps people to dispel the myth of business.Shirley Jayawardana is the first women President of Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Sri Lanka which is the Apex body of the chamber movement in Sri Lanka established in 1973. ( 2020/2022.)
Also presently the chairperson of Ceylon Chamber of women entrepreneurs, she is also a long-standing and well-known member in chamber activities. She is the immediate past president of Central Province Women’s Chamber of Small Industry and Commerce and also has served as senior VP of Central province Chamber of Commerce and Industry for several years.
She is wellknown in the SAARC region serving as Vice president (VP) of South Asia women’s development forum (Sri Lanka chapter) in Nepal and Executive committee member of SAARC chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pakistan. She has also been appointed as the Vice Chairman at Sri Lanka chapter of SAARC Council of Women Entrepreneurs ( SCWEC) affiliated to SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pakistan.
She started her career as a business woman by establishing Media Vision (Pvt) Ltd that was published Kandy Today she functions as chairperson of Wisewell Lanka private Ltd – global trading companies based in USA .
An active social worker, she has many accolades and awards to her credit. The list is too long to mention.
She is the recipient of international award “Professional Women top 50 Global award” and “Priyadarshini Lifetime achievement award”. Also,she has many outstanding achievement awards from Lion’s district 306C1
She has widely travelled and has addressed many international business forums on behalf of FCCISL .and other portfolios, She is also a member of the Institute of Management of Great Britain.
Q Tell us about your background, lifestyle and family life?
A I was a miss Cabraal, eldest in the family of six children. My late father Cyril Cabraal was an Agricultural Instructor.
I studied at the Matara Convent, and did drama, acting and singing in school.I married Dr. Ananda Jayawardana at the age of 24 and a mother and a housewife for twenty four (24) years. My husband Dr. Ananda Jayawardana was a retired Executive Director of Link Natural Products and Ceylon Tobacco Company. I have three grown up children
Q How would you define true entrepreneurship?
A First,to do the stuff I want to do but you have to deliver value and do it constantly and secondly you should have clarity of thought . A true entrepreneur can explain what they do in any language that the stakeholder needs to understand it. Always one should have clarity and purpose.
Q What motivated you to take up entrepreneurship?
A I never thought I will become a business woman. In school, I had multi-faceted talent, everyone thought I might take up acting or singing but my parents were opposed to this move. I started working after 25 years of marriage, when my husband joined the Lion’s Club of Senkadagala Kandy, At the Lion’ Club I gave wholehearted support to my husband, by taking up many responsibilities and challenging projects, which helped me to built up my confidence to give up my role as a simple housewife. I started
“Kandy Newspaper” and took up the post of the Managing director/and Managing editor, this was stepping stone for her career and turned her into an entrepreneur. I was joined by late Lion Professor Samarasinghe who volunteered to be the Chief Editor. .
What are problems faced by women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka?
A Bureaucracy in Sri Lanka is a major obstacle for entrepreneurs to move forward. But if you have courage and determinatio,then nothing can stop you from becoming successful. There were other factors too, like country’s financial constraints, lack of modern technology, labour issues were some of the major impediments. I needed people with high enthusiasm and innovation. Sometimes at the initial stage people are not aware of the intricacies of business and attribution rate remains high.
Q Women’s entrepreneurship contributes to economic growth and social empowerment. How does the Chamber support and promote women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka?
A Ceylon Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs, work as a service provider for all women entrepreneurs. CCWE is always willin to help to initiate projects in different provinces, through regional chambers, who are members. Lobbying with the Government and other institutions to strengthen the regional women’s Chambers and build up the capacity of women entrepreneurs are some of my goals.
We create new projects and businesses to promote Sri Lankan products abroad, one such project is in Turkiye Already the Honorary Consul in Istanbul is helping Sri Lanka to promote Sri Lankan products in Turkiye. All arrangements are made to help local women, in Turkye to open a special branch to sell thier products.
Q Going back to your early life experiences, what factors influenced your decision to be a female entrepreneur?
A The desire I had within me is to be a woman of substance. The support I received from my family, specially my eldest son, who helped me to set up an international trading company Wisewel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., and as the Chairperson of the company, I had the opportunity to spread my business tentacles far and wide.The support I received from the family was a great encouragement to move forward in my business ventures later on in my career. Building an agile team was the biggest and the best strategy which helped me to be successful.
Q What drives/ motivates you? What is your opinion?
A Success for me is to enjoy every moment of life and look forward to a new tomorrow. I love to take up challenges. any leadership role will have as it needs you to be always inspiring and motivating,Taking responsibility of the “Kandy News” newspaper was a huge challenge. Being the first woman president of FCCISI was aso a benchmark for my career
Q Your achievements and accolades?
A To be a women, from the status of a house wife, to go beyond breaking the glass ceiling was a major achievement . I was the first women president of FCCISL, founder MD/Editor of the first regional newspaper for Sri Lanka, president of central province Women’s Chamber, senior member for several years in the Central province main chamber, chairpersons of Wisewel Lanka private limited, an international trading company, Vice President for Sri Lanka South Asia Women’s Development forum, Executive member of SAARC chambers, Vice President of SAARC women entrepreneur council, Member of the international visitor program organized by the US Embassy and many others.
Q How proud are you with your achievements?
A I am very proud by the fact that I can influence and support other entrepreneurs who needs support and encouragement. Women -owned business are increasing in the economies of all countries. Sri Lanka is no exception, they too have emerged into successful business ventures and sending out messages that cannot be dismissed . However I try to empower more women entrepreneurs to empower them by providing financial and other support by providing the challenges they face. These are my proud moments.
Q The Ceylon Chamber of women entrepreneurs and their goals?
A Ceylon Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs is a national level women’s chamber with members representing different provinces. There are also individual business women and professionals to whom we give new membership
This was concept created by me and Ayanthi Gurusinghe, founder director of Cord 360 e-commerce platform. My main goal is to promote women entrepreneurs for cross boarder trading and support regional women’s chambers to build their leadership capacity.
Q Any support from the government to support women entrepreneurs?
A Yes, we do get much support from government to develop women entrepreneurs. Product technology, financial support, skill development, creating a better bureaucratic environment for women to start thier own business and increase thier participation. I also like to attribute my success to my husband and family who have been a great pillar of strength
Q Your other interests and passion
A My goal has always to help women and give them all the support and encouragement. I am passionate about supporting fellow women to pursue thier dream of entrepreneurship.Any women entrepreneurs who needs my support can contact me on email@example.com or www.cewe.lk
Leaders and international delegates sartorial ode to india
The G20 Gala dinner hosted by the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, at the Bharat Mandapam, recently was not just a gathering of world leaders and politicians but also a sartorial spectacle that showcased a rich tapestry of fashion and cultural symbolism.
The evening commenced with President Droupadi Murmu herself setting the tone in a traditional beige saree adorned with a contrasting turquoise border. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, not one to be outdone, sported a blue V-neck striped jacket along with his white kurta pyjama set, adding a contemporary touch to his attire.
What truly captured the essence of the evening was the international dignitaries’ enthusiasm for embracing Indian fashion. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s wife, Yuko Kishida, graced the event in a beautiful green saree, perfectly complemented by a pink blouse. IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva stunned in a purple ethnic suit, complete with a golden dupatta. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wore a lilac saree with a pearl necklace.
Going ahead we saw South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s wife, Tshepo Motsepe, opting for an Indo-western ensemble along with gajra, which is a flower garland worn by Indian women during festive occasions. Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Kumar looked dapper in a black bandhgala suit, and his wife Kobita Jugnauth was a vision in a saree.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, added a traditional touch to her modern outfit, symbolising the fusion of cultures that the evening represented.
Blue emerged as the dominant colour of political fashion at the Gala dinner night, contrasting with the usually sombre tones of power dressing. And, the saree remained a symbol of India’s cultural heritage and elegance, as all Indian female ministers and government representatives wore this traditional attire.
Reacting to the looks, netizens heaped praises on the world leaders and international delegates for going the extra mile to pay a sartorial ode to India. Social media platforms were full of compliments and heartfelt notes for them.
Lyca productions take Sri Lanka globally
by Zanita Careem
It was a star studded night when Lyca productions launched its Sri Lankan operations in the presence of Subaskaran Allirajah, British born Sri Lankan entrepreneur.
Making a significant milestone in our local entertainment industry, Lyca productions launched six movies directed by top local film directors to screen them in selected overseas markets. Lyca Group is a British Multinational Corporation offering high quality, low cost products and services to over 16 million consumers across, telecommunications entertainment, travel, healthcare, media, technology, financial services, marketing and hospitality.
“Lyca Productions, India have a strategic partnership w th EAP Films and Theatres (Pvt) Ltd.,” said Lyca Group Chairman, Mr. Allirajah Subaskaran. “The EAP Group have a long history in the film industry and we are very happy to join them in establishing a modern film production house in Sri Lanka. Lyca Productions Sri Lanka aims to bridge the gap between large resources and art appreciation and make Sri Lankan movies compete effctively with world movies in all aspects of movie production. Very soon there will be more Sri Lankans trained in modern movie-making across the sub-continent, and we will enhance our investments for future devolopment “.
The six movies will be directed by Sri Lankan Directors Priyanthi Colombage, Ashoka Handagama, Jayantha Chandrasiri, Ranjan Ramanayake and Channa Perera.
The movie that is directed by Colombage is about Sri Lankan Cricketer Lasith Malinga. Lyca Production Sri Lanka Deputy Chairman Janaki Wijeratne said Lyca Production distribution platform, they would screen the Six Sri Lankan films in the Middle East, Europe and North America.
Lyca Group Owner Allirajah Subaskaran graced the occasion by his presence and the grand launch was attended by stars from the local screen and top names from the film industry, in South India.
Many top movies in India including Ponniyin Selvan, Don, Mafia and a few others are produced by them. The company is also due to launch movies in Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu with top stars next year.
Allirajah is also the founder and Chairman of Lyca mobiles.
About LYCA Productions Sri Lanka:
Lyca Productions Sri Lanka is an extension of Lyca Productions India which is part of the Lyca Group – a British multinational corporation delivering high-quality products and services to communities across the globe. Lyca Productions is an Indian entertainment company, which was established by Allirajah Subaskaran in 2014. The production studio has been involved in the production and distribution of films made in India. Lyca aims to create, promote and release content across varying genres.
Lyca Productions has produced many top movies in India including Ponniyin Selvan: I & II, Kaththi, Enakku Innoru Peru Irukku Yaman, Ippadai Vellum, Diya, Kolamavu Kokila, Chekkasivantha Vanam, Vada Chennai, Visaranai, Dabar, Mafia, Don, Pannikutty, Naisekar Returns, Raangi, Thiruvin Kural and Theera Kaadhal, Ramsathu and Good Luck Journey. Pix by Nishan. S .Priyantha
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