Last year Yours Sustainably worked with Mayomi Gunarathna to produce our beautiful hand crocheted gifts, crocheted flower jewellery and adorable animal hats and mittens for babies and children. Jessica from Yours Sustainably recently went on a trip to Sri Lanka to visit Mayomi to work on new ideas and explore how we can develop our collaboration, and continue to support both Mayomi and the ladies that she works with.
Mayomi started her brand, Happy Craft Sri Lanka in 2013 after having previously worked for the Tsunami Task Force Disaster Management Committee. She originally joined as a craft teacher, using her skills in crochet, embroidery and bobbin lace, but then went on to become an assistant project manager for the library projects and scholarship programme for orphans.
The inspiration to start her own business came from a gift of a strawberry keyring that she then recreated herself to give as gifts to friends and family. Mayomi’s exceptional skill with crochet means that she can visualise the pattern for a product or design just by looking at it. So with the help of YouTube and Google images she began to make more crochet products.
Her business developed when she discovered ‘Good Market,’ a weekly market based in Colombo and Galle, dedicated to supporting ethical and sustainable producers in Sri Lanka. Since then Mayomi has been selling her products every Saturday in Colombo. She also had a pop-up shop in the seaside resort of Negombo for one year, which was a great opportunity to show more people her talent and designs. During this time Mayomi had to find employees to help her produce her products. Not finding any in her home town of Negombo, she visited her father’s village in Kurunegala, originally finding four ladies willing to work with her. Of these ladies only one could crochet already, so Mayomi proceeded with teaching the others. Visiting every two weeks, she now works with 12 ladies, teaching them new products and designs, and paying them per piece for production. The money earnt by these ladies contributes to their independence and assists them with any family issues that may arise.
As well as selling her own products, Mayomi has an ongoing working relationship with Kasuni Rathnasuriya, a Sri Lankan New York based fashion designer of the brand Kur. After contacting her in 2012 to offer her craft skills, Mayomi has since been making garments and garment pieces for the designer. In return the designer has supported Mayomi in registering and starting her brand.
Mayomi’s exceptional talent, determination to succeed with her business and understanding of working to fair trade and ethical standards is incredibly inspiring to us at Yours Sustainably. We are excited to be able to help support Mayomi and the women that she works with and continue our collaboration, producing beautiful crochet gifts. We hope our customers will join us on this journey and appreciate the skill and talent that goes into every one of her products.