By Pavani Jayasinghe Munagamage
With just a bit of spare time and the support of her family and friends, Anuki Gunathilake was able to provide structure and love to grow what is now one of the most famous online shopping sites in Sri Lanka. With over 6,000 followers, the online clothing store, The Pandora’s Box, offers women’s clothing specifically suited for all events including outdoor, offering a variety of clothing from unique body-con dresses to high-waist pants and crop tops, with prices ranging from Rs. 1,500-4,000.
In the early stages, with no expectations of having a huge online store and selling just a few pieces, The Pandora’s Box was created. In an interview with The Sunday Morning Brunch, Gunathilake talks to us about how her online store came to be.
How was the name The Pandora’s Box imagined?
I was honestly a tomboy at first, growing up with two brothers. I could not really relate to a lot of the clothes that were available, and fashion. My mother then came up to me and asked me if I knew what Pandora’s Box was and she described that it was a box which would open to reveal magical things. And when I heard the name, I just knew that it was the one.
How did your online store begin?
I wanted to do something just after my O/Level examination. I was just 16, and even though I did not know much about how to begin, I was always inspired to have my own start-up.
So when I thought about Pandora’s Box, I told my parents who were indeed very supportive. Growing up, I actually started getting more interested in fashion and the latest trends. So I started with a very few designs at first but after a while, grew into it.
How would you explain your pieces to us?
My material is very specific and unique. It has the ability to expand to fit any given shape and therefore, most of my dresses are a free size. The Pandora’s Box also allows customers to send in their measurements for some pieces which will then be customised according to what they want.
What was your inspiration behind this idea?
If I didn’t have that push from my parents, I don’t think I would have what I have today. My parents were definitely my inspiration through it all, and explained to me how to handle the money, gave me more ideas for the business, and they are my inspiration for everything I do today as well.
What is the next step for The Pandora’s Box?
I definitely want to own my own store, but before that, I will most hopefully try out the physical market, maybe Odel or Cotton Collection. Another dream is to expand The Pandora’s Box internationally, and at the moment I’m still in the process of making that happen.