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‘Take baby steps’: Indi Yapa talks about her most recent recognitions and more

Forging the way to remarkable milestones, House of Indi, a leading fashion destination in Sri Lanka, and its Founder and Creative Director Indeevari “Indi” Yapa Abeywardena, has been duly recognised at two of the most prestigious awards

“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 thoughts and that’s what urged me to pursue fashion designing as a career” House of Indi Founder and Creative Director Indeevari Yapa Abeywardena

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Indi is now the proud holder of two awards that have set her aside from the industry, bringing glory to her brand. She was awarded with the silver award under the “Service Sector – SME (small and medium enterprises)” category at the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM) Restart Resilience Awards 2020, along with being acclaimed “Outstanding Women Entrepreneur – Small” at the “Top 50 Professional and Career Women Awards – Sri Lanka and Maldives 2020” held recently.

The SLIM Restart Resilience Awards 2020, organised by SLIM, the national body for marketing in Sri Lanka, was rolled out to provide necessary impetus for the businesses and to revitalise the country’s economy to recognise and reward the outstanding efforts of House of Indi for their commendable marketing innovations, adaptability, and perseverance in overcoming the challenges as a result of the pandemic.

Indi was bestowed the “Top 50 Professional and Career Women Awards – Sri Lanka and Maldives 2020”, as recognition for the outstanding achievements of a salient woman who inspired those around her and contributed to the country’s economy, while initiating positive change within her community.

Additionally, House of Indi was bestowed a commendation at the Restart Resilience Awards 2020 for the formidable resilience shown by the company in staying strong and unscathed amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The story behind House of 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. Its Founder and Creative Director 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.

Indi commented that she started off as a fashion designer after she studied the field in London. “I worked with MAS as I started out my career, then slowly launched the designer label ‘INDI’ here. Then 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.

Later, she launched her collection on a platform called Warehouse, and also has a retail business currently located at Independence Arcade. Giving us a bit of insight into that, she added: “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.”

 

Bridging connections

 

Indi looks at designing as a way to stay connected to her late mother, who she explained was a “crazy 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 thoughts and that’s what urged me to pursue fashion designing as a career.”

As a child, she was also incredibly passionate about dancing; one could find her at any given time locked away in a dance studio practicing 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, Indi aims to aid all women in and out of the industry. She explained that her brand employs many women, who are the main breadwinners of their family, and 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 do work in crafts like beeralu.”  

 

Awards and acclamations

 

Commenting on her awards this year, Indi said: “My husband is the whole driving force behind me. He kept pushing me to not give up, and even these awards, I think, I owe to him. Plus, my father and my family have been really supportive.” She added that leading a business to success is a tough challenge, and as such, they always aspire dedication, expertise, and sheer hard work in every aspect of their journey. “It is a great honour to receive these prestigious awards and I am extremely proud of my achievement as a woman entrepreneur.

“These awards are a testament to House of Indi’s incredible growth and resilience in adapting to the challenges. Our passionate and ever-dedicated team is behind the success story of Indi. We were able to excel in this field by delivering world-class solutions and ideas to our loyal customers with strong focus on utilising design ideas to blend domestic and international fashion. This is an acknowledgment to all the talented and committed people – both the wonderful creative teams at House of Indi and the many dedicated and discerning clients and partners – whom I have been fortunate enough to work with over the past few years,” Indi further shared.

She also added that the awards are a great encouragement for her staff, especially all the females who are working with her. “I wish I could make mini awards out of the women entrepreneur award that I got to give them as well, because I think it’s a great boost for them.”  

Many young and upcoming designers look up to her, and respect her work. “I get many messages every day from these designers, and all the students that I used to lecture at the University of Moratuwa and have left. I think they also feel very confident. They ask me for advice.

Speaking of how things were when she started out, she said: “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.

“When it comes to the fashion industry, everyone is under the impression that it’s all glamor and lights, but that is far from the truth.” She emphasised that it’s a lot of hard work; the industry’s very cultural, and survival is the key. “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 the key is to stay resilient and work towards your goal.

Indi just completed 10 years of her fashion career. “I want to celebrate it properly. We had planned to do it a little earlier but couldn’t because of the pandemic.” She also revealed that she will not be taking part in Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) this year, as she wants to focus on honouring her 10-year-long career. “We don’t have confirmed plans, but tentative plans are in place for now; we are looking into hosting a solo fashion show that will happen in the next couple of months.” She added that they will be celebrating her bridal and designer collections, and everything else she has created over the years.