Minimalism, timelessness and versatility- a potion for show stopping designs: Sithmi Gamalath Speaks to Lanka Woman

7 February 2022 10:00 am

Words : Aanya Wipulasena
Photos : Nirmala Dhananjaya
Hair and makeup : Ramani Fernando Salons ( Make up- Azad, Hair-Nimesha )

“I feel we should embrace our femininity while we do what we want to do. If we surrender and give into the challenges we face, we are the very ones who will lose out in the end,” designer Sithmi opens up about work, life, and embracing ourselves to realise our dreams.

Hello Sithmi, let’s get right to it. Can you tell us a little bit about your work?

My work revolves around designing sarees and furnishing apartments, houses and villas. Work to me is an expression of my love for designing! I am also the brainchild behind a clothing brand online which is a collection of local handmade sarees in shades of white and gold. This was inspired by a challenge faced many years back trying to look for something white and conservative to wear for a religious function. Both my brands are constantly evolving whilst allowing me to exercise my design skills. I view work as a labour of love.
 Yoga has also had a massive influence in my life and work practises. I began practising hatha yoga six years back. During my leisure time I teach yoga to the staff members and students of Lyceum International School. 
Yoga is another way of disconnecting in order to reconnect with the world and oneself. It has instilled a great amount of discipline, and brought about balance in my work life. I feel it's equally important to look after the body and mind because in today’s rush we all think too much and forget about the joy of just being.

I’m sure it took years of learning to achieve what you have achieved. How do you get started?

At the age of twenty-two I got the opportunity to design a self-service tray for a leading hotel in Colombo where I had worked as a management trainee. That was the stepping stone to launching a line of products catering to the hospitality trade. By 2017, I had launched my clothing brand as well. I had a fair share of ups and downs like any business which was all a part of the learning curve. 
This made me want to get more exposure, and expand my horizon before I come back to running my own businesses. That’s when the detour began.
 I joined a real estate firm, worked there for some time and a few months later I got an opportunity at a famous interior architect firm. I thoroughly enjoyed the projects I was involved in and learnt a lot at the same time. After some time, I wanted to make one last stop and experience working in the humanitarian sector. I was lucky enough to get into an international humanitarian organisation. That was the eye opener. I witnessed the real struggle people went through trying to fend for their families and make a living. I had the opportunity to go and meet people from different parts of our country. During this time, the pandemic set in, which made life even more challenging for everybody. Working there made me realise that I would love to give back to the community and the people through the work I do one day. I felt that I had the power to create jobs for people and also make a part of my business value chain. The detour shaped and taught me things I still value to date. In fact, the companies that I worked for during those years are now some of the clients I work with when it comes to my interior design and furnishing projects.
From a young age I have seen my father work very hard for his family. His work ethic, humility, constant dedication and drive has instilled a strong desire in me unknowingly to be my own person and be as independent as I can be. My family has always been a very close unit. My mother has been instilling the values and principles that we live by to date. She has always done everything to support my decisions and creativity. In fact, she is my partner in crime and my right hand when it comes to my clothing line. Every success that the clothing line has had to date, I owe it to her. Everything I am, I owe to my parents. 

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