Lankan knick-knacks for exclusive Florida boutique
By Mihiri Wikramanayake
Badra Nanayakkara is on a shopping spree. On holiday in Sri Lanka having flown down from Florida, she is shopping for her exclusive boutique in Venice, Florida.

Domiciled in Florida, Badra, and her business partner Lee Lewis, are in town to scout for unusual finds for their dress boutique and gallery, Beauty Studio, Too on West Venice Avenue, Florida. Beauty Studio, Too displays exclusive designer fashion and artisan jewelry and accessories from all over the world to the hundreds of tourists who descend on the Gulf of Mexico to get away from the winters of the world.

These tourists are of varied ages, sizes and lifestyles but have one thing in common; they all love to dress well and enjoy shopping whilst on holiday. "Our visit to Sri Lanka is to explore the possibility of starting a line of casual clothing for women under our own label," says Badra. They are looking for vibrant handlooms for table and bed linen, hand made accessories, articles made from straw and other unusual finds for their Gallery. "We think that these will be ideal gifts and buys for any Florida home."

When Badra and her husband Jim decided to move from Maryland to Venice, Florida, she was waiting for an opportunity to work again. Having worked for 30 years in the administrative field, she jumped at the idea of going into partnership with Lee in the dress boutique.

Now, together, they have built up this unique boutique of clothes for every occasion. From everyday casual to cruise-style to special occasion dresses for the "Mother of the Bride or Groom" or even for that special day the second time around! "If you are looking to accessorize your outfit, we have that too," Badra adds. The accessories are imported from the Caribbean, Europe and the Far East. The varieties are endless - Crystal, Amber, Turquoise, Onyx and Larimar where each piece is handcrafted and one of a kind.

According to Badra, Lee is the creative force behind this venture whilst she complements Lee's creative talents with her organizational and business management skills. Their philosophy is that they have something for every body. "We achieve this by carrying a variety of sizes and styles because our objective is to please even the most fastidious customers," she says. Badra and Lee, also provide personalized fashion consultations.

Throughout the year they are invited by prestigious clubs in Venice and Sarasota to present benefit fashion shows. Their fame has spread and they are now booked to have a fashion show every month during the season. In January they have their own annual fashion show, benefiting a charitable cause and usually held at one of the local country clubs. "This season we plan to have it right here at home and the new River Club will make a grand backdrop for our gorgeous collection ," Badra says.

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