The Ceylon Happy Market 

  • At Havelock Sports Club 

The Ceylon Happy Market is the brainchild of Ivonne Rupasinghe, a Dutch national married to a Sri Lankan living on the island for the past 17 years.

Having been part of the tourism industry, Ivonne lost her job during the pandemic. She then started an online home décor business named “Farm Deco” and she proceeded to grow her business, promoting it as best she can, attending table stalls, and conducting popup sales. However, she shared that what she noticed was that in her attempt to grow her own business, there was a scarcity of places where home-based business owners could showcase their products under one centralised location.

And so came along the Ceylon Happy Market – currently a monthly open air market held at the Havelock Sports Club on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Having experienced firsthand the challenges people are undergoing as a result of the pandemic, Ivonne shared that she hopes for the space to be a community, a happy family-friendly space where homemade and start-up businesses can promote their products. She shared that she wished to uplift the lives of the people running these businesses while bringing them all closer together.

While all vendors are welcome, Ivonne particularly shared that she hopes that this would be a liberating experience for some of the female business owners. “I want them to become financially independent from their husbands. Some ladies here have to ask their husband for money to buy themselves a cheesecake and that is simply unacceptable. I want them to be financially independent to do with their income as they please,” she said.

There’s an incredible 40 vendors showcasing their products this Sunday, 14 November. While the event is guaranteed to be a vibrant one featuring not only smaller enterprises but also longer-running established businesses such as Harpo’s and Barista. The event will also have a kiddie’s corner with a qualified educator to keep your kids occupied for a couple of hours while you enjoy the day. They will also have an on-site barber and many other fun activities for your family to enjoy.

The range of Yum Ceylon homemade condiments

We spoke to a few of the home-based vendors set to attend the event. Yum Ceylon Founder Melony Francis shared that she started preparing homemade jarred condiments and also featuring some traditional foods that are part of the Tamil culture during the pandemic. She said that she and her husband founded the initiative in the hopes of making organic and totally natural products and sharing it with the public. She said that she is getting together with the Ceylon Happy Market because she really hopes to grow her business and get her brand out there so more people can enjoy their products.

Artisan and all-natural soaps crafted at Suds Soapery

Similarly, we spoke to Dinesh and Shenali Fernando, the latter of whom is the Founder of Suds Soapery, a home-grown business that has been around for the past five years. They offer handmade, all-natural, artisan soaps free of harmful chemicals, fragrance oils, and artificial colourants. The duo shared that they only use natural additives and essential oils.

Dinesh shared that Suds Soapery was initiated mainly because he and his son suffer from skin conditions and their skin would often get irritated from the various chemicals in some of these external products like soap that they were using and so they have had to make the switch to using natural products.

He shared that while they were attending a certain table sale they came across Ivonne who too was promoting her own business and they got to talking about the challenges of promoting a home-based business and so she invited them to her Ceylon Happy Market initiative.

The Bed Sheet Studio products

We also spoke to The Bed Sheet Studio’s Nasreen Khan who originally started by making bed linen but has since expanded her business to include cushion covers, duvets, bags, etc. Nasreen shared that as someone who offers handmade items it is incredibly important to have a space to showcase one’s products but even more important to have a space that inspires and fosters happiness and a feeling of community. She shared that Ceylon Happy Market is more than a market place and that it is a place where future entrepreneurs may get their inspiration while others may find a comforting place to relax and spend a peaceful Sunday with their family.