Handcrafted Whimsy

Selyn’s Custom-Made Charm

Selyn’s enchanting handloom textiles embody Sri Lankan heritage and the enfranchisement of the country’s rural artisans.

The tale begins in 1991 when its founder Sandra Wanduragala began her work with fifteen female artisans in the village of Wanduragala in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka. Wanduragala faced the multiple challenges of a deteriorating handloom industry. Outdated design, infrastructure, and technology that couldn’t compete in a modern marketplace. The skill and expertise of previous generations had all but disappeared.

The company found success in honoring handloom tradition that aligns itself with the very origin of Sri Lanka, and the people of the country itself. It continues to surmount each challenge and is now Sri Lanka’s only Fair Trade handloom company. Selyn now employs over one thousand artisans and workers. Instead of utilizing the traditional headquarter-based model, their members work from sixteen workshops spread throughout the rural outskirts of Northwestern, Eastern, and Southern provinces of Sri Lanka. This model introduces a new level of empowerment and ease of comfort for the company’s members.

Selyn rightfully perceives itself as not just a company, but a community. The whole of the process from color to design reflects its commitment to rural artisans. Creative space and integrity are provided to the men, women, and children of Sri Lanka, valuing their skills in a way that guarantees a higher standard of living for all.

The company offers leadership programs, life skills courses, daycare, and health camps to its constituents. Leadership programs focus on business skills and a thinking outside the box mentality. Life skills include everything from handling domestic abuse and alcoholism to women’s health and tools for balancing work and personal lives. From its modest beginnings, it has dedicated itself to not only quality handwoven textiles, but the quality of life of those who work behind the scenes.

Their bold collections include saris, blouses, kurtas, sarongs, and shirts for every member of the family. Fabrics are woven with yarn dyed using AZO-free and PCP tested eco-friendly dyes. Jewelry is handmade from recycled cloth. This year’s NY NOW’s Artisan Resource exhibition features The Jungle Monkey Collection, child-friendly toys sure to delight with their incomparable personas.

The toys begin their journey in dye houses and one of the sixteen handloom workshops. The brilliant hues of fabric then arrive at the Selyn toy factory. Because the dyes are all AZO free and PCP tested, they are non-toxic safe for the environment. The additional insurance of a wastewater plant treatment guarantees further environmental protection. In the factory, they are shaped by a cutting team and then stitched together by experienced machine operators. Each piece is then filled with kapok or other Polyfill. Once back in the hands of the sewing team, sweet details such as whiskers, hands, legs, and impish expressions are lovingly crafted. A quality control team sends the toys through a metal detector and watches for hazards such as pins and other foreign materials. Each toy is granted a name and whimsical personality.

Selyn will be exhibiting The Jungle Monkey Collection at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from August 21-24.

For more information, please visit http://www.selyn.lk.



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