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Sri Lankan designer products show offs in London

David Thomas and his wife Nadia, have made a small business venture named as “Danaqa” for selling garments, bags, jewellery and more from developing countries n the United Kingdom where they are doing ‘ethical business’. Danaqa is the luxury and unique lifestyle brand for those with a passion for fashionable, quality, jewellery, accessories and home ware. Danaqa receive items from developing countries such as  Ethiopia, Rwanda, Botswana, Sri Lanka and Nepal and hopes to broaden its  shores  to  Senegal and Haiti by the end of 2011. At Danaqa the packaging comes from Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Nepal and the branding of Danaqa was done in Sri Lanka. They are very confident with their fair trade principles, where they pay very fair prices, often pay a large proportion of the money up-front on ordering the products and ensure that good working conditions are being carried out.

David, being a development worker, who has worked for the last six-seven years in different countries around the world, and Nadia living and working in Africa and Asia for the past 11 years tried to focus their work on business and finance development for small businesses for the last six years. Subsequently they felt that they could contribute more by establishing a business which promotes quality, design and aspiration from interesting countries. Their aim is to move away from an overly charity mindset, go beyond simply fair trade and raw material based sourcing and to recognizing and exposing less known talent and design.

“I love the Sri Lankan items.  They have such character and sophistication to them – I think it is this sophistication in design which sets them apart from some of our other stock.  All of our Sri Lankan products really show off the incredible skills and design elements that are present in Sri Lankan culture and history” said David. Barefoot and Cantaloup  are the main Sri Lankan suppliers for the Danaqa .

Barefoot products are handmade using natural yarns that have been dyed and woven by hand. The craft skills at Barefoot are timeless. Drawing on an ancient tradition and a desire to achieve perfection using natural inputs, their quality is remarkable. Only 38% of women in Sri Lanka participate in the workforce, and encouraging more women to become engaged in skilled labour is crucial to improving the sustainable economic development of the island.  Barefoot creates long term relationships with low-income women and men craftsmen and promotes eco-friendly production.

Cantaloup works with the  women of Thunukkai – a livelhoods project working in the North of Sri Lanka to develop long lasting skills within the communities. Together they produce and market beautiful beaded jewellery that is 100% Sri Lankan.  The north of Sri Lanka was one of the areas worst affected by the 2004 tsunami,and has been at the centre of the civil war affecting the island for nearly 30 years.  Women and communities in the area have taken a large toll from the war and tsunami, and rebuilding livelihoods and opportunities there is very important.By focusing on high quality skills for women in Thunukkai, Cantaloup is hoping to have a lasting impact on the community, and ensure that livelihoods improve for the community.

“We will constantly strive to provide beautiful limited edition pieces that reflect the beauty of the regions they originate from and look forward to welcoming customers who are ethically minded, with a lust for luxury and true individuality – spearheading the movement for ethical fashion and retail”said David.

Sandun W

Sandun joined Lanka Help Magazine as a contributor in June, 2011. He has been consistently writing articles to our magazine. Many useful articles of this site are under Sandun's name.

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