'Our business has sustainability at its core’:Lonali Rodrigo

We are a business that started with sustainability at its core. Staying focused to our core, taking small and conscious steps, believing in our actions, and getting others to believe in the positive impact we create have led us to face some challenges successfully,” said Lonali Rodrigo, in an interview with the EthicalX team. 

However, the fashion designer who has her own brand of clothing, shoes, accessories, and stationery items sold at House of Lonali, says there is a new challenge every day. Challenges aside, Lonali’s work has not gone unrecognised and she was listed among the ‘35 incredible young women under the age of 35’ by Cosmopolitan Sri Lanka in 2020. 

Following are excerpts of the interview:

1. What does climate-friendly business and ethical fashion mean to you?

Creating a product or service – in our case from sourcing, designing, and manufacturing to usage and disposal – in a way that minimises the negative impact to both people and planet while maximising the benefits to people and planet.

 

2. What measures have you taken to make your business more sustainable, ethical, and climate friendly?

First, understanding the process and making conscious choices throughout to minimise the negative impact to the planet. Examples include the use of waste resources as raw material (#upcycling) and practicing circular designing and zero waste process. 

Second, maintaining a transparent supply chain to bridge the gap between the wearer and the maker.

Third, practising slow fashion to have control of both over production and over consumption.

Fourth, setting up sustainable KPIs and internal data collection and measuring the impact and possibly certifying the impact through a third party. 

Fifth, educating and building awareness in sustainable fashion.

 

3. What are the key challenges that you have faced in your journey and how did you overcome them?

Throughout our 10-year journey, we have faced challenges in sourcing, production, and marketing of upcycled products as we are a business that started with sustainability at its core. Staying focused to our core, taking small and conscious steps, believing in our actions, and getting others to believe in the positive impact we create have led us to face some challenges successfully. However, there is a new challenge every day. Now it’s about resilience, scaling our impact, and taking our story to the world.

 

4. How does EthicalX help enhance your knowledge and skills on ethical, sustainable, and climate-friendly business enterprise?

The programme has shared valuable knowledge of industry experts, helped to network with like minded entrepreneurs in the same sector as well as cross sectors, and initiated important linkages to the relevant Government authorities to solve some issues facing our businesses.

SLYCAN Trust launched the EthicalX programme in January 2022 to enhance Sri Lanka's start-up ecosystem and strengthen ethical, sustainable, and climate-friendly entrepreneurship on all levels. Through Climate & Innovation Hubs, EthicalX provides capacity-building and technical support for entrepreneurs at various stages of their business development.

The EthicalX Fashion Cell comprises talented and well-rounded entrepreneurs with a common interest in enhancing their capacities, expanding their network, and promoting sustainable practices through their enterprises.

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