Designer 1-2-1: Maria Domingos and Menusha Gunawardhana

May 18 2021. views 107

Bubu with its tagline of Find Your Beautiful is the creation of Creative Designer Maria Domingos and Marketing specialist Menusha Gunawardhana. Launched in 2018 the brand specialises in making bags out of gunny sacks and rice sacks and develop a line of handbags that can be viewed as both trendy and fashionable. Their sustainable elements are many and the process also allows a cooperative of women to work from home, creating the bags. The creations are sold at Kopi Kade, Seed Cafe and the Design Collective.

What sparked your interest in fashion design?
MD: My mother was quite artistic, she was an amateur artist and also an amazing seamstress.  I grew up surrounded by her creative endeavours so I think that sparked my interest in arts/fashion from an early age. 

What made you take fashion more seriously and make a career out of it?
MD: My first foray into anything creative was making jewellery. I love the Portuguese tile and so I started making Portuguese tile-inspired jewellery which I then gave as presents to friends and family. It received such positive feedback that some very dear friends of mine encouraged me to start doing it as a business. 

Are you self taught or did you study fashion design?
MD: Self-taught

How has your work evolved since you began your own label?
MD & MG: I continued my jewellery line but I was also thinking about doing something using materials that were discarded or overlooked after their primary use. From there came the idea to work with gunny sacks and rice sacks and develop a handbag line that could be trendy and fashionable and elevate the beautiful colours and prints featured on the sacks. 

Are there any types of Handbags that you avoid designing?
MD & MG: I think creativity is limitless when designing bags but my goal is to, as much as possible,  creatively reuse materials so I purposely avoid using materials that are not recycled. 

Where do you look for creative inspiration?
MD: I think living in Sri Lanka is like living in technicolour, there is always so much colour, so much light so much art that it makes the senses very receptive so I can find inspiration even just walking around.

Describe your latest collection?
MD & MG: Our latest collection is showcasing the different gunny sack prints with their bold and colourful designs and creatively reusing them into high street fashion quality products, highlight the original purpose of the bags, what they originally carried, i.e. turmeric, ginger or other species. 

The current collection comprises of:
The Bubu bag - Every day, smart/casual reliable tote bag. There is also a reversible version of this bag.
The Bubu Lite - It's a dainty shoulder bag with elastic handles, perfect to carry small items and on the go.
The Bubu Chic - An elegant, stylish and versatile handbag that can also double as a weekend bag. 
The Bubu Rhombus - An unusual but eye-catching shoulder bag with its interesting patchwork.
The Bubu Mini - A crochet clutch bag made of paper thread and removable handles for extra wear options. 

What materials are the bags created from?
MD & MG: We reuse the gunny sacks that are primarily used to carry spices as well as rice sacks. The leather handles are a by-product of food production. Our logo is made from reclaimed wood. The idea was to create a sustainable product from materials that would otherwise end up as waste.

What emboldened you to open a business during a pandemic?
MG: We had the product samples pre-pandemic both here and internationally and due to several inquiries we had, we decided to launch at Kopi Kade, Seed Cafe and the Design Collective. We felt these locations were in line with product esthetic.

What is the USP of your line?
MG: Our product enables women to work from home and provide them with a second income. 

What are your sustainability credentials?
MG: All the materials are upcycled and given a new lease of life. We are looking to achieve a sustainable transparent supply chain.

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?
MG: Identifying the right partners in the supply chain. 

Which international or local designers are you inspired by?
MD & MG: Buddhi Batiks, Lonali, Barefoot, Biasa, and most boutique brands. 

What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
MG:  It plays significantly in creating awareness of the brand.



Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is a journalist specialising in travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also the Features Editor for Hi!! Magazine. An intrepid traveller, she likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno


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