Groundviews

The fabric of life

Featured image courtesy Raisa Wickrematunge

Videography courtesy Amalini de Sayrah

At the time of founding Selyn Handlooms in 1991, Sandra Wanduragala did not know much about the handloom industry, but this didn’t stop her. “I thrive on challenges,” she says, laughing. Despite having initial difficulties in deciding which products to develop and finding skilled employees, Selyn has come a long way – it is now a fair trade company, which means that it works to international standards in ensuring workers enjoy conducive working conditions, receive fair wages, operate transparently and impact the environment as little as possible.

In the initial days, many people asked Sandra why she didn’t simply choose to get into the garment industry, but Sandra felt that she could contribute more to society by working to preserve the traditional practice of handloom weaving. By extension, she quickly discovered, she could also support the livelihoods of women in a sustainable way.

The women employed at Selyn hail from the communities surrounding their plants in Kurunegala, and are very much the backbone of the organisation.

Watch these women at work in this short video, shot during a recent visit to Kurunegala organised by Selyn.