By Dimithi Wijesinghe
Lyawal by Roshelle offers its patrons a variety of tote bags and pouches and caters to “almost all your packing needs with cotton fabrics”. We spoke to the wonderful solo business owner, the lovely Roshelle Abeysekera, who shared with us her start-up journey.
Having studied at Brandix College of Clothing Technology, majoring in textiles, Roshelle has the ideal background when it comes to launching an apparel-based initiative. Following her studies, she joined a leading apparel company in the island where she worked for about five-and-a-half years.
Speaking about starting her own business, Roshelle said: “Since I’ve always really loved stitching, it felt like a natural progression.”
“I started with cross-stitch; me and my mom started things together,” she said, providing that their humble beginning was something they did leisurely. “We didn’t want to keep the finished products to ourselves, so we decided to sell it.”
However, she said that back when she and her mom started, it felt like nobody wanted their product “because it’s a very niche market and the cost was too high because a lot of labour goes into it, making it very time consuming. The time and effort going into it made it too pricey”.
While suffering this small setback, Roshelle said she experienced her first bright idea while scrolling through Pinterest, stating: “I found some cake pouches and that was where I actually got my real start.”
Cake bags soon became her main item. As she started things off with a friend’s wedding, she discovered that the cake bag was where her creativity could truly shine.
“It’s a very creative process for me. Creating cake bags is not just a matter of replicating something I see; I like to create my own thing with the theme of the wedding and allow some expression through creation,” she said.
Speaking about the production aspect, Roshelle shared with us about her very ground-level operation consisting of just a few power women – herself, the lovely lady who sold her the new sewing machine she uses for her bags, and an old colleague who simply loves hand painting and letting her creativity run wild on blank canvas.
The product is simple enough; it is a type of a bag, either a pouch or purse, of whichever cotton variety. You will get a product made with care and a lot of thought.
We were truly awed by Roshelle’s kindness – how she puts her employees first – when she shared with us a heart-warming story of how she purchased a sewing machine from someone who was struggling to gather enough capital to finish her home and later partnered with her to provide her a steady income source.
Roshelle is truly an inspiration to most young entrepreneurs; someone who, despite setbacks in the market with many demanding more for less, perseveres.