Aliya Blue- Imagined, Designed & Hand-Crafted In Sri Lanka

Shop On Line:

Aliya Blue was founded with the purpose of providing a platform for the various artisans in Sri Lanka to showcase their unique products and skills to the world. It is an avenue for them to support, not just themselves and their families, but also their communities.

The inspiration came to me during an excursion in my motherland, Sri Lanka. As I was walking through the local marketplace of a small town, I noticed this bag hanging on a small vendor’s roof and fell in love with it. It reminded me of the shopping bag or “malla” my grandmother used to carry to the market on weekends when she did all her groceries many years ago. To me it was so beautiful and represented a simpler time when there were no plastic bags, and everyone used to carry a version of this bag to the market. A light bulb went off in my head as I thought why not I start taking a ‘malla’ to the supermarket and leave the plastic bags at the store. It was the perfect solution – eco-friendly and uniquely stylish.

From this first thought, I started talking to the vendors about their products and how business was doing, and I kept hearing the same story. Business was bad, there were no tourists or locals traveling, and they were struggling to survive. This was after the tragic Easter Sunday terrorist attacks that took place in the island last April (2019). These artisans were creating beautiful products yet there was no real exposure for their talents. I had always wanted to give back to and help the less fortunate communities in Sri Lanka, and this seemed like the perfect place to start. Not charity but a way to empower the craftspeople and their communities.

I did a lot of research, going around the country, finding and meeting some of the best craftspeople. I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of artisans that made various types of bags using several natural materials that were growing in abundance around them, particularly in the rice fields. A majority of my vendors turned out to be women and it was inspiring to see them supporting their families single handed, and the communities around them by employing other women. I also met a teacher who traveled over one hour by bus to rural villages to teach women how to make these products. He gets a small stipend from the government for his teaching, but he mostly does it out of his passion for creating these unique bags and passing on his skills.

We deal directly with the craftspeople so there are no middlemen. The items you see on the website is handmade and takes some time to make. This means each piece is unique and there will never be a hundred pieces of one item. We buy what the artisan community produce.

During my journey, I met several other craftspeople that made a plethora of unique items such as jewelry, art and other accessories that you now see on the website. What started out as a simple idea of introducing Eco-friendly bags to the US, turned into a showcase for Sri Lanka’s unique handcrafts. Thus, Aliya Blue was born.