top of page - CARe Interview Series #socent

Updated: Oct 21, 2019

The new CARe Interview Series: Social Entrepreneurship, today's interview is conducted with Dilanka on her journey, from being a lawyer to be a social entrepreneur. Her #socialenterprise is LOOMRO

LOOMRO empowers differently abled heroes in Estonia. We create a platform for differently abled people to showcase their artworks through our products and we create job opportunities for them. We encourage and appreciate their creativity.

LOOMRO uses organic cotton and linen materials for the garment and long lasting hand printing method for printing designs to give quality products for our customers. ‘’LOOMRO Differently Abled Hero’’ leaflet comes with our every product.

This interview is with cofounder Kulamini Dilanka Mendis, LL.B (Hons), Legal Adviser, MA (Social Entrepreneurship), Notary Public.

LOOMRO is cofounded with Udara S. Suwanda Arachchi , LL.B (Hons), Legal Counsel, MA (Social Entrepreneurship), Lecturer in Law.

Interview Transcript - Loomro, Dilanka

From a lawyer in Sri Lanka, why the switch to become a social entrepreneur?

So actually after I completed my higher education I worked

as a legal consultant especially in the corporate sector, so gradually I wanted

to change my path and start my own business because I thought that starting

and running a business would be more challenging and exciting and also since

I am most concerned about social problems, I realized that becoming a

social entrepreneur would help me to balance my concerns, interest and life as

well. So that's how I choose to become a social entrepreneur.

What is Loomro’s Business Plan?

Loomro is a tiny concept with a huge positive impact, so I use the word 'tiny'

because our core idea is really a simple one. Basically we sell hand printed cotton

T-shirt as you know so many entrepreneurs doing the same thing but

our specialty is we use artworks of disabled people on our product and we

help them to generate regular income so sixty percent of our profit directly

goes to our disabled artist and not only this financial benefit but also it

helped them to build and increase their self-esteem as well so our brand

is all about ethical fashion I would say. We not only focused

on the sustainability of the fashion products but also the production,

procedure, materials and the design and the printing method. We

started this last April and at the moment one artist is working with us. And we

selected him from Tallinn Mental Health Centre Lasnamae.

The Process - Design Artwork

Okay, once we had a chance to visit Tallinn Mental Health Centre in Lasnamae

and also we got to know about their art sessions which they organize to their

mentally disabled clients. And after that on the second day, we also went to the

art sessions and we spent a whole day with them. After that, we decided to

select some artists from this session. This actually, we were planning to do

this project with the disabled children not really the elder disabled people but

after this visit, we realized the actual difficulty of being disabled and jobless.

So we thought that it would be more impactful if we give chances to this

disabled elderly people. So then now as I mentioned to you earlier, we are currently

working with one artist who is suffering from color blindness and also he has

some health issues related to his mental health and especially I want to mention

that this Tallinn Mental Health Centre in Estonia, they helped us a lot to maintain

our relationship with this artist.

Why should people buy your product and not from others?

We are in the middle of a huge competition, but when it comes to the impact, we are unique. Because if you buy LOOMRO's products you will directly help differently abled people and it creates regular income for them and also you can buy best quality

product from LOOMRO in terms of material quality. We thoroughly believe that

people must use long lasting garment with excellent material

quality because it's good for your health and also it protects the

environment. So we are using organic cotton which is

100% eco-friendly and we buy those garments from certified traditional

manufacturers in Bangladesh and also we use eco-friendly hand printing method to

print the design on the T-shirt. I can say that LOOMRO's products are suitable

for any skin type and even three years old child to 100 years old elderly can use this

product. So LOOMRO is for kind-hearted people who love simple but quality

products and also people who believe in Zero Carbon footprint.

How do you plan to reach this group of people? Currently we are trying to do

marketing through our Facebook Page and webpage.

Still, we're planning more strategies to do our marketing

We try to reach out to them and then I think they can help us to find our customers.

And actual customers.

What is the most rewarding learning of this journey from ideation to the fulfilment of this product, to the hands of your customers?

So at the starting point of our business, we are worried that we are not experienced

enough and we are not good enough to succeed but after we started, selling from

our very first sale, we learned that we would never be a hundred percent ready

to start a business because the best way to learn

something is to throw yourself right into action, so I would say the best

thing we learned from our journey is: there are different types of customers so

we have to face them and they have different types of requirements and also

to win a business or doing a social enterprise is not an easy task and there

is no comfort zone and risk is always there, so no matter what we have to work

on our idea continuously.

There are so many obstacles so we have to change our strategies and try out new

things somehow we have to continue. We are still, we are changing our

strategies and try to find out the most suitable (I mean) best fit strategy for

our business and still, we are very young company, not company, very young project

and still like six months, so still we are trying to find out new things but we

learnt that no there are some people who really love to help people and they

really love the simple but quality clothes.

Social responsibility is an ethical framework and suggest that an entity, be it an

organization or individual has an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large. How do you think it resonates with LOOMRO's work?

LOOMRO is not a single social enterprise. I like to define it as a chain of social enterprises

because we help traditional Bangladeshi organic cotton manufacturers and on the other

hand we help disabled people and we are working with the Tallinn

Mental Health Centre, so we are trying to be socially responsible in many ways.

Our customers also directly or indirectly become socially responsible

by using our product and also we try to balance, the

ecosystem and the economy and ultimately I would like to mention that by

supporting and promoting small and medium enterprises, we can uphold our

commitment to the socially responsible modern economy. I'd like to Thank you

for inviting me for this interview and I would like to invite all the members of

this network, please visit our web page and FB page. Please comment and please

follow us and if you like our products, please buy your next (LOOMRO) T-shirt from

our web store, Thank you!

Thank you so much, Dilanka.

Facebook Page: Loomro - Social Enterprise for Differently Abled People

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