Meet Dinushi Pamunuwa, fashion entrepreneur and owner of Wax Raqqs, a designer brand that specializes in Batik womenswear.
The beginning of Dinushi’s journey in fashion started when she was very young. Even while being a student at Mahamaya Girls’ College, Kandy, Dinushi used to love doodling and drawing. She was involved in decorating and designing costumes for school activities and was always passionate about being creatively involved. “I used to go with my father when he was conducting his consultancy programmes and during my free time I would draw sketches and draw clothes and bags and shoes on them and colour them in. So, fashion design was a dream I had ever since I was a kid”.
When it was time for her to start her higher studies, Dinushi was lucky enough to have two options to follow her dream of studying fashion. “I got selected to the University of Peradeniya as well as AOD and I actually did both programs together for about 6 or 7 months. Then two exams clashed and I decided to proceed with AOD. I felt more myself at AOD and I felt like I will be able to make a difference in the fashion industry. During the three years of my Degree I got to study with an international faculty along with experts in the local industry varying from lecturers who knew the traditional crafts inside out and lecturers who opened our eyes to the international manufacturing techniques that our little island was capable of. It was a real eye-opening experience. At AOD we are also given a lot of freedom to express ourselves through our work. I think this contributed to my independence and drove me to start a business of my own”.
During her time at AOD Dinushi became familiar with the working methods and technology of the Sri Lankan apparel industry as well as low-tech operations. "I explored various crafts such as Beeralu, Handloom and Batik when I was at AOD. We had a project in the final year where I got familiar with fashion construction through intimate apparel manufacturing. When I graduated, I wanted to merge those experiences to create a brand with a truly local touch”.
With AOD’s guidance and placements through the campus’ active career centre, Dinushi completed an internship in her second year and went on to work in fashion retail within a modern context at established fashion studios. Following this, she was finally ready to live her dream as a designer leading her own brand. Her brand ‘Wax Raqqs’ retail out of her own store and online.
“The name Wax Raqqs originate from the ‘wax’ which us used to create Batik clothing and ‘Raqqs’ is a play on the word ‘racks’. The brand is built on the concept of creating something unique with a twist on the traditional and we now retail Batik lingerie, swimwear, eveningwear, activewear and accessories. The brand was born as a niche product, but I soon realised that its market was not so niche- especially considering the travel retail market here and overseas consumers online who are hungry for something different. It was really wonderful and rewarding to see how the brand was appreciated from buyers in different parts of the world.” Dinushi is mainly driven by the craft Batik and is specially involved in how her business uplifts the traditional craft community in Sri Lanka. “The Batik craft is what drives me mainly. I am always in awe of what this tedious, yet beautiful craft can produce. I love being able to produce something absolutely new combining something else and that is how Batik Lingerie was born which was the main drive behind my brand and then constant research and development opened up various other paths allowing me and the brand to grow”.
The Fashion & Textile Design Degree at AOD gives insight to a diverse range of fashion disciplines including womenswear, menswear, textiles and knitwear. It guides students through the fashion design process from conceptualization, research, and garment construction to design realization while important skills in fashion illustration, CAD and Photoshop, pattern cutting, print design and textile design will help fashion graduates access a number of career opportunities after graduation. The Fashion Design & Marketing programme at AOD gives insight into everything relevant from fashion consumer trends, market movements and specialised knowledge on design and material tech etc. It taps into everything from creative and strategic thinking to public relations, influencer marketing, experiential marketing, digital marketing, content marketing and demographic specific strategies. As for who it would suit- young business, management and marketing brains who love fashion and those who want to lead their way as fashion entrepreneurs.