Everything else.. Ceylon Leather Crafts

Ceylon Leather Crafts

2021 Dec 28

What was once an activity that he did to relieve stress turned into his very own little entrepreneurial venture. This bright young star, Thilina, used to manage a company that he started with his friend. He was, like many of us, struggling with stress management. Whenever Thilina had a long day at work and was stressed, he started watching crafting videos on YouTube, which would be therapeutic for him. He continued to watch leather crafting videos for 1 to 2 years, until he was very familiar with the craft, to make his own wallet and laptop cover. He bought all the tools necessary and the leather as well. The wallet and the laptop cover that he made initially were unappealing, but he liked it because he made it. As someone who has loved making things on his own since he was a child, Thilina thoroughly enjoyed crafting his very own leather products by himself.

During this time, Thilina was involved in the IT industry. After the Easter bombings in 2019, the market crashed, which motivated Thilina to develop his hobby of crafting leather products further. He started crafting leather wallets, purses and bags from real leather – a rare material that was hard to find. He spoke to us about how many leather products in the market are labelled genuine leather, but are in fact not made with real, high quality leather. Once he started developing his hobby and people began demanding the products he crafted, he started placing a price tag on the products he created. At this point, Thilina made the daring decision to leave his job that gave him a stable income, and followed his passion for crafting leather goods. This, by the way, didn’t give him any income at all in the beginning.

Under Ceylon Leather Crafts, Thilina crafts a variety of different products, including wallets, watch straps, duffel bags, handbags, laptop bags, purses and coin/earphone pouches using pure leather. These products can be customised according to customer requirements. Clients could send Thilina a reference picture of how they’d like the product to look, and he would craft it accordingly. After the launch of his website, he’s more focused on putting his products up for retail, but he takes on customised and personalised orders as well. He mentioned that he even adds logos, tags or name tags for personalised orders, and he also takes orders from companies and corporates.

Starting a business comes with a plethora of challenges without a doubt, but Thilina specifically highlighted how the state of the country is a challenge he has to overcome every day. The import restrictions imposed on certain chemicals to make leather and the lack of support for small businesses impact Thilina’s business operations significantly. Thilina mentioned that he doesn’t expect the government to take care of small businesses in any way. But he hopes that the authorities would allow them to do what they do best. He also mentioned that the knowledge consumers in Sri Lanka have about leather is very little and that people don’t understand how to differentiate between what’s known as ‘genuine leather’ and pure, good quality leather. He spoke to us about how big brands have contributed to disrupting the market for leather in Sri Lanka by promoting the sale of low quality leather products, which also impacts his business operations.

In an attempt to overcome some of the challenges that he faces, Thilina is a smart entrepreneur who puts the power of social media to good use. He started utilising the latest trending platform, TikTok, by making videos to educate the public about leather and leather craft. Thilina has thus gained a following of over 20k followers who also bring traction to his business.

Now that Thilina is well established in the Sri Lankan industry and is growing rapidly within the market, he hopes to start exporting his products within the coming year and reaching international waters. Thilina’s advice to any aspiring small business entrepreneur is to keep hustling hard. He spoke about how what comes out of your mouth becomes your reality, so staying positive and putting in the work is one key to success. He also spoke about the importance of being comfortable doing everything yourself and not being dependent on anyone to do anything for you. This would help push your boundaries and improve your skills significantly, which in turn would help propel your business along the path of success.