- Nipuna Ratnayake on the inception of Kleider Clothing
By Venessa Anthony
Ever since he was a child, Nipuna Ratnayake has dreamt of entrepreneurship. He knew that when he grew up, he wanted to be his own boss, and have something that he could call his own. Although he had a firm goal in mind, he had no idea what field he wanted to specialise in. Eventually, during the last year of university, around 2015, he realised he wanted to start a clothing brand. After two years of in-depth study of the fashion industry, and setting up a process and value stream, he finally launched his clothing brand with his girlfriend-turned-wife in 2019.
Such was the inception of Kleider Clothing.
In conversation with The Morning Brunch, Ratnayake spoke about the inspiration behind his successful venture, saying: “My father always told me, ‘Do what you love, love what you do’, and this has been one of my mottos in life. So it is correct to say that my dream inspired me to start this back then, and it still does.”
His ambitions were also greatly supported by his partner, as they shared the same passion for fashion: “We always tend to share our ideas and try to come up with design ideas together.”
It wasn’t easy – when starting out, Ratnayake had no information nor ties with the fashion industry, so all his knowledge had to be learned in the two years he gave himself before launching the brand.
“Those days were extremely hard as there was limited info, and I did not have any ties to the fashion industry. I studied the industry and business for about two years and started Kleider Clothing in early 2019,” Ratnayake shared.
Right now, Kleider Clothing is a brand that focuses on providing customers with a unique fashion solution.
“All our products are not produced in a very large quantity. We manufacture only limited pieces from each style, and we do not remanufacture them in the same colour and design,” he told us. While they do get a few requests every day to restock the sold-out styles, they usually kindly explain their business model to their clients, who generally take it pretty well.
They pride themselves on running a clothing brand that designs and manufactures all products in Sri Lanka. Ratnayake told us they source the material from the local market and then design accordingly. Currently, all the activities related to Kleider Clothing, with the exception of pattern-making and sewing, are done in-house.
“We have a very talented and experienced team who supports us immensely to provide a high-quality product to our customers for the outsourced activities,” he stated.
The duo don’t have fixed plans for the future of Kleider Clothing, as they believe in taking it one step at a time – and that approach has certainly been helping them grow into a booming business. At the moment, they are mostly based on online and social media platforms. In a step closer to owning a physical store, Kleider Clothing also launched at Numa The Concept Store in the heart of Colombo 7.
“Our customers who are reluctant to purchase clothes online can always visit the store, try everything on, and then make the purchase for their convenience,” he added.
Like most owners of online stores, Ratnayake too has a plan to start a physical store as soon as possible to create a unique shopping experience with an extended product portfolio for their customers. Additionally, they also have a plan to take the brand to the international market and support the Sri Lankan economy, but are patiently waiting to see what the future holds in store for them.