Slow and Stylish Mint Ceylon
By Sadira Sittampalam
Sri Lankan lifestyle brand Mint Ceylon is a collaboration between sisters Zainab, Summaiya and Tasneem who all have had a keen creative eye for all things design and fashion, Zainab has a Degree in Interior Design and owns her jewellery line called Zirc Jewellery; Summaiya is a self-taught successful makeup artist and hairstylist under the name of Avoura Artistry and is also a self-taught graphic designer; and Tasneem is a fashion designer, a graduate from AOD.
All of them come from a long line of artists and designers in their family and have parents that are also in the creative field. Combining all their individual strengths, they formed the dynamic team that leads Mint Ceylon, doing everything from designing products, content creation, photography and editing, customer service, packing and shipping.
When and why did you decide to start Mint Ceylon?
Fashion has always played a part in our lives ever since we were young. The three of us are not new to up-cycling, we would often visit thrift shops and figure out ways we can manipulate garments into something new and fresh which gave us the idea to start Mint Ceylon. This encouraged us to try new things and be more creative. In order to design an idea or concept we have to understand how things worked, so it’s like a creative journey from idea to the final product and this has always been something that we wanted to pursue.
We observed a lot of fast fashion brands that were emerging in the market and what we realised was that there is a huge gap in the up-cycled fashion industry. During the first lockdown, the three of us got to talking about how we can take this first step in the upcycled community, and from there it was all about working 24/7 on this dream of ours to make it a reality.
What were some of the biggest challenges you had to overcome to set the business up or keep the business running, especially with the COVID-19 situation?
Since we started our brand in the midst of a lockdown we had to face several issues with coordinating things with suppliers and making sure our products were just right. A lot of suppliers refused to work with us because we are a slow fashion brand and not a mass-produced label. Suppliers would rather work with brands that give them larger quantities to produce, and since all our products are one-off pieces and unique it took us a long time to find the right people to work with.
We are very grateful for the suppliers that believed in our concept and vision. The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live, work, and do business. Going the extra mile to support our artisans, during the pandemic we kept our artisans busy with creating capsule collections and making sure the women we work with had steady fair wages.
We also focused on the value we give to our customers, many people are watching their spending right now, made sure our products were upcycled and had a story that brought value to each piece and we upped our social media presence and post relevant, educational and engaging content
Being a slow fashion brand, what are some of the sustainable practices you follow?
Our designs are meticulously crafted keeping in mind fabric wastage. We do not let any excess fabrics go to waste and we use them in various smaller products that we have designed such as pouches, scarves, scrunchies, bags, shirts, and so on. The fabric products designed are aimed at bringing handmade and high quality sustainable alternatives to plastic or high intensive less ethical production.
We believe that brands can do more to reduce wastage and to educate people that your garments can have a second life and do not have to end up in a landfill. We are an all-women-owned brand and our products are made by women from rural communities. All products are designed by us three sisters turning deadstock and discarded fabrics into vibrant products with the help of our highly talented and skilful artisans from around Sri Lanka.
How has the customer feedback been so far?
Everyone seems to enjoy their purchases so far but we are always looking to improve ourselves with each collection that we launch. We often come up with new ideas and products to test out the market and we are glad that it has been doing well so far.
Do you have any plans on how you would evolve the business in the future?
We would love to see Mint Ceylon go global. We have a few exciting products lined up for Christmas and we are also planning for other launches next year as well. We would love to incorporate more recycled materials into our brand as well but that would involve more research and require a bit more time and resources.