Alanki Kishani Perera speaks as ‘Radha by Alanki’ turns two

The local fashion industry is flourishing with budding designers and brands that take creativity to a whole new level. Alanki Kishani Perera steps into the fashion scene with ‘Radha by Alanki’ – a brand specializing in designer wear sarees in an attempt to do something different. Being no stranger to the local silver screen, Alanki has a degree in law and is also acknowledged as a philanthropist. 
This year, ‘Radha’ turns two and Alanki is excited to cater to more clients and introduce new designs. “Every woman should embrace her own authentic beauty and wear what compliments her beauty,” said Alanki in an interview with W@W.

Excerpts : 
Q: What inspired you to start the ‘Radha by Alanki' brand?
A: We have always found it difficult to find sarees that we liked in Sri Lanka and therefore we used to travel to purchase them. My mum has a good eye for sarees and we realised that there are only a handful of boutiques in Sri Lanka that have a unique and exclusive collection. My mum and I are very passionate about sarees and therefore we ventured out into this business. 
Q: How is it different from the rest of the saree brands?
A: Every saree at Radha is unique. We have one in each design in order to maintain its exclusivity. We also ensure that our saree fabrics are of premium quality and standard. We have a wide selection of sarees in unique designs, ranging from authentic traditional silks to a contemporary collection of floral prints and ethnic designs. We feel that each saree at Radha has its own identity and story.
 
Q: There are many other entrepreneurial attempts in the industry promoting ethical wear and empowering women. Where do you stand on this spectrum?
A: We are not in competition with any business and neither do we follow any such business but we believe that to stand out and empower women we must do our own thing. We at Radha feel that every woman is special and has her own individuality.
Each woman should embrace her own authentic beauty and wear what compliments her beauty. Radha caters only to women. We have sarees for day wear, for working women and also for special occasions empowering her to be her own self. It has been a privilege to work with our clients who love our products and we believe that Radha sarees would help them to stand out by being different. As a woman entrepreneur, I hope I could inspire young girls and women across Sri Lanka to take more risks and to believe in themselves while pursuing their dreams.
Q: What key elements are highlighted in your brand? 
A: We celebrate nature. Nature is a key element of our sarees since we have many in earthy colours, nudes and many ethnic designs that narrate a story. We also have floral prints. Tradition and culture is also something which has inspired us as it can be seen in our sarees. We have embraced ethnic tribal designs too. 
Q: What challenges have you faced as a female entrepreneur?
A: The biggest challenge that any female entrepreneur faces is from other women who try to put them down and copy your concepts and ideas. I believe in creativity and in being an original. It’s a good thing to set trends and to inspire others but one should always do your own thing and support other women. I have always felt that it is very empowering for a woman to have other women support them in their journey.
 
Q: Your thoughts about the local fashion industry today.
A: I think the local fashion industry is growing at an unprecedented level. We have so many young and upcoming designers and entrepreneurs who believe in themselves. Our designers have an enormous amount of potential and creativity and I think we need more international exposure so that more of our products would reach the global market.
Q: It has been two years since you started your brand. What changes has it gone through from then to now?
A: Our clientele has certainly grown. Our clients believe in our products and that is what matters the most. We keep introducing new designs from time to time and even new materials. We now have a contemporary collection of new designs and fabrics. Our most interesting addition includes the sarees with ethnic designs and prints depicting tribal stories.

Q: Personalised designs have taken a centre stage in the fashion industry today. What’s the competition like for these designs as opposed to commercial Indian and local sarees that could be bought off a shelf? 
A: Well we have no competition since we have only one in each design and saree. So our clients would be wearing something personalised in its own way. Each saree is carefully handpicked and some are even designed for us as opposed to many saree stores that have several hundred or thousands of the same saree. Sarees at ‘Radha’ are therefore exclusive, classy and elegant. 
Q: What other interests do you have other than ‘Radha’ and acting? 
A: I love reading and shopping! I also work closely with charity organisations such as the Foundation of Goodness to raise funds to assist children in rural areas of Sri Lanka to purchase essential school items. The Foundation of Goodness has given me an amazing opportunity to help in whichever little way I can. 
  
Q: A tip for up and coming entrepreneurs.
A: Take risks and be willing to fail first if you wish to succeed! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamanthi Wickramasinghe

A psychology graduate who eventually became a journalist to be a voice for unheard voices. A proud Sri Lankan - Thalassophile - Travel fan - Nature lover - Chocoholic - Extraordinarily loud - Frequent laughaholic. Follow me on Instagram - @kamzylifeTM or FB – Kamanthi Wickramasinghe

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