Embarking On A Compassionate Journey!
Fashion plus Passion making ‘Pashionable’ people, Otara Gunewardene successfully combined fashion with passion to create Embark to talk to the hearts that wear the products.
The founder and driving force behind Embark says that she always wanted to launch a campaign to help the helpless animals since her childhood. Even throughout her journey at Odel, she conducted various awareness programmes and hosted many events in order to raise funds for this great cause.
“I thought I was doing so many little things and not really having a big impact on one thing, so I focused on the street dog that was not given enough recognition and love, to create the brand Embark, enabling people to shop the lifestyle where they’re helping a cause while buying a good product,” Otara said.
Stressing on the current situation at Embark, she adds “Up to now we have helped over 80,000 dogs. That is to do with adoption, vaccination, sterilization and educational programmes and raising awareness. We will continue our operations while increasing our ability to help more dogs.” Being the voice of the street pooch, Otara focuses on protecting the environment and wildlife while getting others to join this cause.
Embark has been transforming the lives of street dogs while creating a platform that inspires people to love and respect the “unwanted and unloved” street pooch since 2007. Focused on taking the welfare of street dogs in Sri Lanka against all odds, Embark is a unique blend of passion and fashion exclusively for ‘Pashionable’ people. The brand Embark offers a diverse line of pooch inspired clothing and merchandise which is definitely a must-have in every local’s wardrobe. Embark facilitates adoption, re-homing, sterilization of street dogs not forgetting education and raising public awareness.
Combining these two was no easy task, but she was ready to take up the challenge!
“That’s the part I loved the most. Creating brands is what I really love. It was more an exciting thing than a challenge. I’m back again running a small business. I’ve to climb the ladder once again from the bottom even today,” Gunewardene said.
‘Niko’ is one of the main inspirations for Embark who is also the high profile mascot for the fashion label Embark. From being a street dog to done Hollywood and been in naughty company Niko has captured many hearts.
“Niko is one of the main reasons I have Embark. As a child, I have always had pedigree dogs and like everyone else, I used to just drive by and not look at any street dogs though now when I drive all I see is street dogs. When I got Niko, I just wanted to find a home for him but my sons insisted on keeping him so we did. Through Niko, I realized how wonderful street dogs are,” she said about Niko.
From a 20 Square feet space, retailing a line of six black and white Tshirts to a globally recognized brand, Embark has come a long way! “I, am never quite satisfied with what I’ve accomplished which is why I keep going for more. I know I’ve been able to help many animals and even people. There’s been a lot of progress, but from what I can see there’s just so much more that I can and would like to do,” she said talking about Embark’s ten-year journey.
While pedigree dogs are in popular demand, a countless number of street dogs who need attention and care often live difficult lives on Sri Lankan streets. The traditional thought “Street dogs are less worthy” seems to be replaced with the Embark Culture.
“From origins, we are compassionate people living a compassionate life. From the days of Mihinthale to where we are today, there has been a great change, but I still believe we are compassionate people deep down and it just needs to be activated again, create more compassion until we are awakened to the understanding of suffering of other lives in our country, I don’t think anyone of us are successful. I see quite a change over the last ten years with animal welfare. I still think our laws are weak and we need to focus more on animal welfare laws and give equal opportunity to animals. I think we have a long way to go but people are slowly changing and realizing” she pointed out.
Through Embark, Otara tries to give a platform for street dogs and make them fashionable for all, put them on a pedestal here people would want to adopt them. “I want to give them a place in the society and in the world as an international appeal. They deserve far more than what they get. They are truly Sri Lankan dogs and anything truly Sri Lankan is of great value. I will do my best to make it a better place for them,” Gunewardene added brimming with confidence.
Her message is clear-cut. “We are at a time of human evolution where we need to understand the suffering we inflict on animals. It’s not only about our lives. No matter what we can do, other lives also matter. I think it’s time for us to see beyond ourselves,” She said.
Fashion + Passion = Pashionable
A compassionate Srilanka where street dogs are valued and receive the love, care and respect they deserve.
Working towards the welfare of street dogs in Sri Lanka, while fostering a harmonious existence between people and animals.
l Embark is dedicated to improving the wellbeing of street dogs through its rescue, re-homing and education initiatives.
l Since 2007, Embark has succeeded in not only making a significant change through it’s own work, but also inspired countless others to move from ignorance to empathy and from fear to compassion for the animals.
l For the past ten years Embark has been at the forefront, influencing policy in relation to animals and playing a vital role in making a significant change in the lives of animals and people. (Naveksha Gunasekera – Dailynews)