He realised an 8-5 job was not his style
Only 26 years old, but already it looks as though Prassanna Pathmanathan is treading the path to creative entrepreneurial success. A chartered marketer, graduate and gold medalist of the University of Westminster, he recently won the prestigious Young Creative Entrepreneur Award 2012 in recognition of his talents.
Prassanna is not only the first male to win the award but the first to win it from the design sector, as originally the award had been restricted to entrants from the field of fashion. Founded by the British Council, and partnered by the Sri Lanka Design Festival, the award is the only one in the country open to both sectors, and to offer the winner the opportunity to visit the UK. Past winners include Linda Speldewinde, the Founder/Managing Director of the Academy of Design and the founder of Sri Lanka Design Festival.
This was like a dream for me from the time that Linda won but it was not possible as I wasn’t a designer. Linda was one of my greatest inspirations-she came back and launched Sri Lanka Design Festival,” he says.
Fashion is a passion for this young man. “I am not from a fashion or design background. I’m an academic-a communication consultant, PR specialist, lecturer on IT, business and marketing,” he says. At 21, Prassanna began his creative career as a fashion writer and steadily moved towards fashion journalism. “From a young age, I was a creative person, but the inspiration came for me after I started writing and meeting these people whom I had dreamed of meeting.” It was through this that he launched two fashion contests, Flamboyance and Chokolaate Mother Daughter Fashion Designer. “I saw potential for Sri Lanka’s young designers but they lacked skills, so I launched these brands to give them a platform to show their collections and to give them the publicity to take them to the next level.
“ It sparked my interest. An 8 to 5 academic job was boring, but this was fun and served a purpose. It enabled lots of people to do well in life,” he says. The initiative was a great success with three of the winners launching their own labels.
Perhaps the greatest milestone for Prassanna in his role as pageant director occurred in 2010 when he was contacted by the Mr. Earth Council in Central America. He became the National Director of Sri Lanka for the Mr. Earth worldwide pageant and was invited to be on the judging panel. “I was so new, and amongst so many experienced people.”At first hesitant, Prassanna overcame this, training Milinda Wickramasinghe for the pageant. Wickramasinghe came third, taking the title of Mr. Water 2011. He was also invited to judge Mr. and Mrs. North India.
Nurturing and expanding Sri Lanka’s fashion industry is one of Prassanna’s primary objectives. “The industry is doing really well, thanks to HSBC Fashion Week and Sri Lanka Design Festival. There’s a lot of creative talent in this country but there are drawbacks. You have to be able to sell your ideas; your PR should be excellent so you can market your product. This is how you go international.”
The trip to the UK the award offers is tailored to the specific interests of the winner. Thus, Prassanna is confident that he can use it to make his aspirations for the industry a reality.
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