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Vinoja Bandara: A woman of many talents

By Nethmie Dehigama

This week, we caught up with the talented and inspirational Vinoja Bandara. Here’s what she shared with The Sunday Morning Happinez

Q: Tell us about who you are.

A: I’m Vinoja. I’m 21 years old and I studied at Yasodara Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Gampaha. I’m currently following my Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Management at NSBM Green University. I am a full-time marketing intern at John Keells X, and I also own a clothing brand. Apart from that, I model and act. My father, a former national athlete, is a businessman and my mother is a housewife. I have a younger sister. I’m usually a talkative person around my family and my close friends. I have always loved helping people as well as working in a fast-paced environment. 

Q: How do you manage being a third-year student, business owner, and model?

A: It’s a little difficult to manage because these three are on completely different levels. I’m a third-year marketing management student while also doing an internship. Being an owner of a business while studying was a great struggle for me at first because there was a lot to focus on. I also had to model for my business and then I received several other photoshoot opportunities. It was difficult to keep track of things with all of this going on. My secret to balancing everything is to never postpone tasks. I also have an amazing family who is always there to support me. 

Q: Did you ever think you would one day be a TikTok and Instagram personality?

A: Never. Actually, I was a True Novice winner and a Sri Lankan school swimming champion. I always wanted to represent Sri Lanka, but I had to take a break due to my studies. I never thought of being a social media personality. All of this started when I made my Instagram account and my number of followers continued to grow. My first collaboration happened with British Cosmetics. After that, I received a few more requests for collaboration. I realised that I could do something more useful with social media.
Starting TikTok wasn’t really my idea; it was my friends’ idea. They wanted me to create an account. I realised that I could also do something creative through TikTok. 

Q: Tell us about your online business – Kate Store. How did that journey begin?

A: It’s been over a year and a half since I launched Kate Store – an online clothing store specialising in ladies’ clothing.
It all started with a personal incident. One of my Advanced Level teachers let me down after I told her that my father was a businessman. This, I feel, was the exact moment I decided to launch my own business as it inspired me to believe that one day, I will be a successful businessman like my father.
Before launching Kate Store, I learned a lot about fashion design. My mother is my greatest supporter and mentor in life, and she was the one who taught me how to create the dresses you see in Kate Store today. My father was really helpful in locating the best textiles from his business partners. Covid-19 was the primary challenge at first since I was concerned that consumers would lose interest in apparel. Plus, it was difficult to find good tailors during that period. But eventually, I found the greatest tailor who made me the ideal outfits. My family and crew are tremendously supportive of my work. 

Q: Have you always wanted to be a model?

A: No, and I still don’t. My modelling started when a friend asked me to model for her fashion brand. After that, I had to work as a model for Kate Store. After seeing the photos that I posted on Instagram, some studios, and photographers, approached me and invited me to collaborate. I had the great opportunity to work with Samal Bandara and some talented photographers. That’s how I got into modelling. I don’t want to make it my profession because I have other goals. But yes, I have learned and discovered my hidden talents through modelling, and I have met wonderful and amazing artists along the way. 

Q: When did you realise your true passion was acting?

A: Well, first I took part in a teledrama production in 2021 and that was my first experience of acting in front of a camera. After that, I was invited to act in a music video. Later I took part in a short film production, and I received many compliments. Those productions made me realise that I have a passion for acting. 

Q: In terms of acting, what have you done so far, and what do you hope to do in the future? 

A: Apart from the short film which was produced by Cenzetic Pictures and the music video that I spoke of earlier, I recently worked on a new teledrama production, and you will see that soon. There are a few more short films to be released in the coming years which I am excited about.

Q: What is happiness to you?

A: Doing what you love is freedom, loving what you do is happiness. 

 

PHOTOS © KATE STORE, SAMAL BANDARA, KITHSARA TISSERA, 51 DESIGN STUDIO, RAVINDU EGODAWATTE, ISURUMAAN WEERAWARDANA