Our Story - The Humble Beginning
Founded in 1991, Sandra Wanduragala (Attorney-at-Law) started Selyn in her home garage with 15 women in the village of Wanduragala in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka. Joined shortly thereafter by her brother and Managing Director, Hilary Wanduragala, Selyn now has around 1000 artisans within its networks. Sandra’s daughter and namesake, Selyna Peiris (Attorney-at-Law) has since joined the company to lead its next generation. Today Selyn is Sri Lanka’s only Fair-trade certified handicrafts company and one of its largest social enterprises. We are proud to be among the top handicraft retail brands in the country while exporting to fair trade and other customers all over the world.
Our Vision is to craft premium products whilst empowering local artisan communities, The tradition of the loom takes its roots at the very inception of Sri Lankan history. Today the industry faces decline due to reasons ranging from an ageing labour force, lack of skilled experience, uncompetitive market prices, outdated designs and lack of innovation and technology. Selyn takes on this challenge to revive our heritage and extend its benefits to our rural artisans.
Our mission is to grow a sustainable social business based on the principles of fair trade in order to uplift the living standards of rural women and men. We do this by providing them with consistent income generation opportunities whilst keeping alive the local traditions of the handloom and crafts in Sri Lanka.
For us at Selyn, empowerment is the ability to say no. We are committed to uplifting the living standards of rural artisans by providing them with the opportunities to access work and the skills to stay at work. We believe that simply having a job doesn’t mean that a woman is empowered; needs to be able to manage her home, her children, her finances and her physical and mental well-being. In short, she needs to be in charge of the choices she makes.
How do we help her do that?
Following fair-trading practices, our social business mechanisms ensure that our networks are not only empowered financially but that we go out of our way to create a way of life within which they will thrive. Among other things, we assist our networks to develop business infrastructure, upgrade design and technical skills and ensure a guaranteed flow of work.
In addition, our members have access to services such as health camps, child-care facilities, life skills programmes and leadership trainings.
Today Selyn is Sri Lanka’s only Fair-trade certified handicrafts company and one of its largest social enterprises. Committed to quality and to innovative design, our dye house gives you all the colours of a rainbow and at our handloom workshops we weave a myriad of fabrics, which become home textiles, garments and toys. Our local showrooms house a beautiful variety of handicrafts inspired by Sri Lanka’s traditional industries and modified to suit modern tastes and trends. We are proud to be among the top handicraft retail brands in the country while exporting to fair trade and other customers all over the world.
Selyn is not just a handicrafts company – We are a Sri Lankan community.