Challenged Norms

ApiHappi’s fresh ideas

When you first visit Apihappi’s website you are greeted on its homepage with the headline “Challenging the Norms of Design and Culture” followed further down the page “Combining Fresh Ideas with the Ancient Art of the Handloom.” By its name alone, ApiHappi conjures images of fun and innovative fashion accessories and home decor products that suit young and old alike.

Founded by designer Aparna Samarakoon and her partner Etosha Lankatilleke, the couple’s dream was revive the art of the handloom and come to the aid of artisans in Sri Lanka The goal: to take ancient weaving traditions to create fresh, contemporary styles. In order to achieve that ApiHappi purchases material from numerous ethical handloom groups in Sri Lanka. The company works artisans from the community who make bags, sack packs, to bean bag chairs.

The majority ApiHappi’s are women who can work at home and continue to take care of their families. Income is based on how many bags are produced as opposed to an hourly rate. The rational behind this pay structure is based on capabilities where they are able to earn more than at a low hourly rate at a factory. 

A future goal for the company is to create a handloom/entrepreneurship community center, where anyone can cultivate skills from weaving to sewing to designing and even exporting. In the meantime ApiHappi has formed a strategic partnership with the Lions Clubs International in Sri Lanka for the rural schools development project. The mission behind the partnership is to provide underprivileged kids with new schoolbags. The scope of the Lions Club project is based on natural and man-made disasters (weather and civil war) that have stricken certain areas within Sri Lanka and where children are struggling to get a basic education. ApiHappi along with other organizations have contributed to rebuild schools, build new ones and provide the children with books and supplies. ApiHappi’s first goal is to get to 1000 school-bags into schools along the Southern Coast—from Kalutara to Kataragama—making sure that children in at least a hundred schools will have backpacks to carry their new supplies.

The company currently sells their products online, but to attract more buyers, specifically in the U.S., ApiHappi will be attending and exhibiting their new collection of bags and bean bag chairs at NY NOW’s Artisan Resource at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan from August 21st to August 24th.

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