Creative living and business with Anjalee Peiris

By Mahika Panditha

“In our society, women are told that they have a timeline, that dreaming too big is silly, and that to be a ‘good woman’, we have to follow the ‘rules’ of our society. However, I hope that through the new platform I am creating, and through my current endeavours, I am able to inspire and motivate even a small number of people to take action towards their goals,” said the star of our cover today – Anjalee Peiris.

Born in Sri Lanka and raised in London, England, Anjalee runs her own small business called Cotton Crowd, whilst also supporting a fashion and skincare brand based in the UK. She is also creating a digital business for women who are small business owners so that she can share knowledge with them. Isn’t that amazing? We are so excited to check it out, so we are all staying tuned. Let me just put it out there that her content is absolutely beautiful and I feel like I am staring at a Pinterest board every time I look at it. Do check her out on Instagram (@anjalee.peiris).

We had the chance to speak with Anjalee earlier this week about Cotton Crowd, social media management, and content creation. Check out what she had to say.

Before we get into it, do tell our readers a little about yourself.

I was born in Sri Lanka and raised in London, where I studied and currently work. I am a passionate creative, entrepreneur, and a social media marketeer for skincare and fashion brands based in the UK. I am obsessed with all things fashion and art, and I am very passionate about investing my time and energy into building a career within these areas. I really love creative processes – writing, designing, dancing; you will always find me either creating something or conjuring up different ideas to put into action.

Tell us about Cotton Crowd. How did it start?

I started Cotton Crowd when I was at university, because I fell in love with the idea of creating unique statements for people’s self-expression. At first, it was about creating things for myself, and I would always have people ask me where I bought it from and I would just say I made it. And so people started requesting I make items for them. Over time, this became Cotton Crowd.

What’s one of your best memories so far running your own business?

I think the best memory, even now, is that first sale and first review from a complete stranger. When you first start something, you’re really unsure about how it’s going to be received, and I still remember waiting for that first customer and just being filled with so much joy when it went well! It might be such a small thing to others, but to me it was so special because it was the first sign that someone likes my creation and is willing to spend their hard-earned dollars, which is still fascinating to me.

You are also involved in social media management. How did you get into that field?

I studied fine arts and specialised in new media, which meant that I really got to explore my interest in the evolving world of social media through my degree. As I said before, I’m an avid fashion and beauty lover, so I really wanted to get experience within various brands.

What would you say has been your biggest challenge to date and how did you overcome it?

I think starting is always the biggest challenge. In the beginning, you are unsure, overworked, and probably not paid enough, and for most people, this is really off-putting and they will give up through this process. But if you just stick with it, and you create an action plan that shows you exactly what steps you need to take to get you that little bit further, eventually your work will pay off. The secret is consistency and that you just have to keep going – it’s so ironic because sticking with it is the biggest challenge, but it is the thing that’s also the most important to your success.

Any advice for people looking to get into the industry?

I would say don’t be shy, always ask.

You have nothing to lose by asking because the worst-case scenario is a “no”, which means you just stay where you are. Never turn down an opportunity to network; always talk to people, even if you’re an introvert like me (it gets easier!). I would just think about my end goal and have that as the main focus. That pushed me to start a conversation, ask for an opportunity, and give out my business card, and employers love this because it shows that you really care – it shows your hunger. From an employer’s perspective, I would much rather hire the person that makes the effort to talk to me, ask me for an opportunity, and be brave than the person that may have got all As in their exams but waits for opportunities to come to them without taking any action.

Aside from this, you are also a content creator – speaking of which, I am in love with all of your posts. What’s the process like when you are creating content?

Thank you so much for saying that you love my creations; that is so lovely to hear. It depends on what I am creating, but most of the time, I can’t work without music – I always need to set the ambience for the thing I’m creating. For example, if I’m creating a really bright, energetic, colourful statement piece, I need to channel that energy from the music I’m listening to. I think having a really inspiring workspace is so important to me as well. and just my space in my house needs to be really filled with lots of creative pieces that I love, whether it’s the interior pieces, books, or art prints – my environment really contributes to my process.

What is one thing you do every time you create content?

Aside from the music, I always need to start with a moodboard. I literally moodboard everything, like I have a mini-moodboard on my daily planner when I schedule my day every morning. I have a quote or an illustration that would really set the tone for the day, and I carry this school of thought across when I am creating. Each piece of content is inspired by a vision board filled with all of my inspiration for a particular piece/project.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I am such a sensorial person. So I literally draw inspiration from all of my surroundings, from beautiful smells, a cool sound I may have heard, an addictive story that I’ve read to some visual art and nature – it can literally be anything and everything that I experience.

I think emotions are a big one too, actually, because I am such a “feeling” person. I’m constantly motivated by the emotions I go through and I have to write any ideas down immediately.

Where would you like to see yourself and your platform in the next five years?

I see myself expanding Cotton Crowd and my other businesses that are yet to launch.

I think businesses can truly change the world. We are all consumers, and this gives us a lot of power. Each purchase we make casts a vote towards the kind of world we want to live in. I really want to help the world in my own way through creating and supporting the growth of conscious businesses that help people and the planet in some way.

Photos © Hannah Downey

Pic caption: Anjalee Peiris