The Nomad House — My home for 5 weeks

Experiential learning: Life as a Digital Nomad Part 2 — Immersion

Living the life

This week saw us settling into our ‘nomad house’. Living with 7 others has its challenges. Personalities differ and everyone has different expectations, there is need for flexibility and compromise.

The Food

So far I haven’t been wowed by the food. As someone who enjoys a good meal, I feel somewhat disappointed to date. The first week provided few opportunities for real local cuisine. Food was more geared towards the tourist market and had western themes. I didn’t come all this way to eat chips and pizza.

The curries had been so-so, until we visited a local ‘street food’ restaurant, where we managed to order a Sri Lankan national dish Kottu and chicken biryani and curry and parathas. The Kottu, although a roti, bizarrely tastes like noodles. Now this is what I came for. The food was tasty and incredibly spicy, but not so hot it blew your head off. We loved the food so much, we went back the next day.

Faluda and samosas

I’ve since had the opportunity to drink a Faluda (a cold beverage traditionally made from mixing rose syrup, vermicelli, psyllium or basil seeds, tapioca pearls and pieces of gelatin with milk or water) and eat various savoury deep fried snacks like samosas. The Faluda was very sweet, but not so sickly sweet that I couldn’t stomach it. The savoury snacks on the other hand have been mouth wateringly good. You never really know what you are going to get when you bite into one, but so far, I have not been disappointed.

The Client

My client is pretty much a one-man band. She designs her own products but also manages the whole supply chain. She sources the waste materials from factories, takes the materials to the communities to make her designs, then picks up the finished products and sells them. It’s no mean feat and I admire how far she has come. Lonali Rodrigo started her business House of Lonali in 2013 and opened her own boutique in October 2015. Because her products are made from upcycled materials, each item is unique. This in itself creates a challenge in terms of how she scales the business, which is where I will be assisting.

This week I have been learning about how she runs her business and thinking about how we can grow it.

Excess belts from factories are turned into bag straps

I have spent time shadowing her as she sources her materials. We spent some time visiting Pettah Market (a huge market in Colombo near the fort) sourcing buckles, zips and threads. We talked a lot about the challenges she faces and what her aspirations are. I’ve also been familiarising myself with her product portfolio. I will focus my next personal development blog on the manufacturing and upcycling industry.

Learnings

I’m learning a lot about the clothing, or rather ‘apparel’ industry and the challenges apparel manufacturing brings to countries such as Sri Lanka. Being a social entrepreneur with high aspirations is challenging work, but extremely rewarding when people understand what you are doing and why.

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