- House of Indi Founder Indi Yapa on becoming one of the biggest names in the local fashion industry
By Venessa Anthony
When it comes to the fashion industry, everyone is under the impression that it’s all glamorous, beautiful, light, and fancy, but House of Indi Founder and Creative Director Indeevari “Indi” Yapa Abeywardena remarked that this is far from the truth.
She emphasised that it’s a lot of hard work; the industry is very cultural, and survival is the key, saying: “My advice would be to stay focused and passionate about what you want, and take baby steps; start very small, but steady, without giving up. Once you pass a certain point, it will automatically fall into place.”
She explained that she has failed many times in her life, but in the process, learnt that the key is to stay resilient and work towards one’s goals.
This lesson has clearly paid off for Indi – established in 2010 with the introduction of the Indi brand, House of Indi has evolved to be a signature fashion destination in Sri Lanka. Indi is a qualified fashion designer, and her extensive experience and expertise in the fashion industry have ensured that House of Indi continues to expand and serve a wider customer base.
The Morning Brunch reached out to Indi for an overview of her career, how the journey has been so far, and her thoughts on the ever-evolving fashion industry.
Indi told us she started off as a fashion designer after she studied the field in London, recounting: “I worked with MAS as I started out my career, then slowly launched the designer label INDI here in Sri Lanka. Everything sailed smoothly from there.”
She added that over time, she ventured into bridal wear, and now has a bridal label by the name of Indi Yapa Abeywardena Bridals, also known as IBride.
Her most recent venture was the launch of her collection onto a platform called WH Sri Lanka. She also has a retail business currently located at Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo. Giving us a bit of insight into this, she said: “It’s a retail store featuring Sri Lankan and local brands, for young and upcoming labels also, created mainly in order to give back to the industry and help these young designers prosper.”
The brainchild of two friends-turned-business-partners, Indi Yapa Abeywardena and Limini Weerasinghe, WH Sri Lanka is a result of their shared love for social services, youth development, and women’s empowerment, along with fashion and a balanced lifestyle.
Speaking about her love for fashion and discovering it at an early age, Indi told us it was an attempt to grow closer to her mother, who also happens to share a similar passion for fashion. Since Indi looks at designing as a way to stay connected to her late mother, she explained that her mom was a talented seamstress in her time.
“I grew up watching and admiring my mother’s work, and that’s where my passion for creativity stems from. I’ve always had creative ideas, and that’s what urged me to pursue fashion designing as a career”
As a child, aside from fashion, she was also incredibly passionate about dancing – one could find her at any given time locked away in a dance studio, practising her moves. This, along with her many other passions, came together to form an impressive portfolio, which enabled her to obtain a scholarship to Middlesex University, London, and the rest is history.
As a woman, Yapa aims to aid all women in and out of the industry, and she explained that her brand employs many women, who are the main breadwinners of their family, who would otherwise be struggling to make ends meet.
“I believe very strongly in women empowerment. I have employed women from different walks of life. I also work a lot with local artisans that work with crafts like Beeralu”
Today, many young and upcoming designers look up to her, and respect her work.
“I think they feel very confident, and I get so many messages every day from all of these young and upcoming designers and all the students – even those who have left – as I used to lecture at the University of Moratuwa, asking me for advice.”
As mentioned, however, her success did not come easy. Indi told us that it was very difficult at the beginning.
“I did not put in a lot of capital to start with, because it actually started off as a hobby and a tryout,” she told us, in the case of her first physical store. Speaking of goals, right now, Indi is extremely content with all she has achieved and where her brand is headed. While she will continue on a steady path, enjoying what she does, she always has exciting plans in the pipeline, which she revealed we will hear of soon.