I knew within the first few minutes of our Skype call in January that Dinusha brought something special to the table. We were chatting to see if there were any areas at Purse & Clutch she could start getting involved in before the Apprenticeship started this summer & after a quick 30 minute call, I was eager to find places for Dinusha to plug in right away!
She's wonderfully analytical while simultaneously has an incredible eye for trends in fashion, home decor, & marketing. Dinusha quickly became an indispensable part of the ...and Such team alongside Shara & I. As the summer rolled around, Dinusha has joined in on the Apprenticeship meetings to get a solid foundation on P&C. We're thrilled to have her on board & are excited for you to get to know her a bit too:
Name: Dinusha Wijesinghe
School: University of Texas at Austin
Major: Plan II Honors, International Relations & Global Studies
Graduation Date: May 2015
Currently also works in Dallas, Texas as an Human Resources Business Partner.
Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born and raised in Friendswood, Texas so that will always be my home. However, I fell in love with Austin, Texas while attending college at UT. I think of Austin as my home away from home.
Who are some of your fashion icons?
Sofia Coppola, Amal Clooney, Emma Watson, the cast of Madmen, and my beautiful mom.
Why are you interested in Fair Trade Fashion?
I've always been intrigued by the connection between fashion and culture. Whether it is a silk scarf from the alleyways of Turkey, a lace wall hanging from a beach town in Sri Lanka, or a pair of bracelets made in South Africa, I love buying pieces that tell a story. As I learn that the story behind many of the things I buy is not always rooted in the principles of fair trade, I know that I want to be part of the narrative that is. Ethical practice in the textile and apparel industry truly has the ability to empower communities by providing a platform for fair-wages and an equal partnership for fair trade. I feel thankful I get to play a small part in this relationship.
What countries have you visited? Which was your favorite and why?
My family is dispersed around the world, so traveling to experience different cultures has always been a part of my life. I have had the opportunity to visit Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, England, and Scotland.
Each country and culture had its own unique gems, but some of my favorites have been Laos, Turkey, and Sri Lanka. Laos, because the people I met were some of the most genuinely hospitable people in the world. Turkey, because of its rich culture-- from the brilliant architecture in Istanbul to the intricately designed silk scarves in Bursa. Sri Lanka, because I have a long personal history rooted in Sri Lanka. My affection towards this country spans from the golden beaches to my grandmother’s homemade mango chutney.
What have you enjoyed most about your time with P&C so far?
During my time with the …and Such section of P&C, I have really enjoyed being able to jump right in, eyes wide open, no floaties attached. I have experienced far more than I would have ever imagined -- from working together with artisans to develop one-of-a-kind products, to analyzing market trends to provide the best curated collection for our customers.
During my participation in the Apprenticeship, I have really enjoyed channeling my entrepreneurial spirit in a strategic and productive manner through a hands-on curriculum. Through our research and conversation, my once superficial belief in fair trade has been challenged into a more nuanced understanding of the industry. I feel a greater sense of responsibility to understand the long-term social, economic, and political impacts of social enterprises on a community, and have also developed a healthy skepticism that will cause me to think critically about the role I play in fair trade.