Alanki Kishani Perera, better known as Kishani Alanki, is no stranger to the limelight. Having started her successful career in modelling and acting at an early age, Kishani Alanki made a glowing name for herself in her field. Not one to rest on her laurels however, she now seeks to fulfil a new dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur and is well on the way to achieving this as her brand, Radha by Alanki, turns two next month and is fast becoming a sought-after name for unique and exclusive designer wear sarees.
Kishani, can you tell us about your acting beginnings?
I never had an intention of getting into the field of acting, even though as a kid, I thought that it would be really cool to be featured in TV advertisements! When I was just 15, I was spotted by a photographer who photographed me for the cover of the Daily Mirror magazine. That got me invited for my first TV commercial by a leading advertising agency, which was as the lead role for the product Sunlight. From there, I took part in many TV commercials and music videos such as ‘Suragana Kirilli’ which became a hit and I was then invited to acting.
I turned down the offers initially since I had no interest in pursuing acting, but then took up an offer two or three years later when my mum and another friend in the media industry encouraged me to try it out! However acting was always a hobby for me and I took a break from it when I pursued my law degree for around four years, since it was not easy to balance both my studies and acting schedules which were both very demanding of my time. I have currently acted in two films, around 10 teledramas and 50 TV commercials, etc.
How did acting change your life and what are your best projects to date?
Acting has changed my life in many ways. I am a known person and many people reach out to me, which has its pros and cons; on one hand, you lose your privacy and you are prone to be on the receiving end of criticism, but on the other, it has placed me on a platform which has provided me with an opportunity for me to make a positive impact on the youth and to help out in many ways for worthy and charitable causes.
What are the things in your life that you’re most grateful for?
I am most grateful for my parents. My mum is my greatest blessing. She has been a hands-on mum and supported and encouraged me in everything I do. I am where I am today because of my parents having given me the freedom to be who I am and not who they expected me to be. I am also grateful to all the material things that God has blessed me with.
How did you get your idea or concept for Radha and why did you pick that name?
Radha had always been at the back of my mum’s mind – my mum has had a never ending love affair with sarees! Even though she suggested this idea to me a while back, I was too busy with my acting projects at the time. When I cleared up my schedule, we opened Radha together. The name Radha comes from Radha Krishna (a folk love story in India of lord Krishna and Radha). Naturally, my mum picked the name! We had always been so mesmerised by the romance that surrounded this love story and also because it is so closely associated with beauty and femininity.
How did you build up an entrepreneurial spirit; do you feel that you were born with it or did you develop it?
It takes time to adjust into being an entrepreneur; I wasn’t born with it. However, I always wanted my own business some day and I’m glad that I’m an entrepreneur, since that makes me my own boss! However, entrepreneurship brings many responsibilities along with it and many sacrifices must be made along the way! So to answer your question, I may have not been born with it, but I developed it. However, I feel that this is only the beginning and I would like to venture into many more businesses in the future.
Tell us more about Radha by Alanki and what’s the best part about owning this boutique?
All the sarees are handpicked from different regions in India and provide a variety of styles and ethnic designs influenced by the different traditions and cultural heritage of India. Since each region has different weaving styles and designs that are unique to that particular region, we provide a diverse collection of sarees for everyday wear and special occasions. We also maintain our exclusivity by only providing one saree in each design for our customers. The best part about the boutique is meeting our valued clients; it has been a privilege to work with many women of different fields. In addition, it has also been empowering, uplifting and given us a lot of exposure.
Why did you choose sarees as opposed to a different type of clothing?
We have a unique collection of sarees that we import. There are only a handful of stores in Sri Lanka that have unique, elegant and sophisticated collections and that’s exactly the gap we need to fill. Many Sri Lankans believe that a saree is more sensuous than a dress and we love the grandeur and elegance of a saree and it is a versatile outfit that can be worn every day for all occasions. A saree ensures that you possess the elegant appearance of a graceful lady and we are happy to handpick each and every saree from our suppliers.
Why or how did you choose the collections you have in there right now?
We have only one in each design and therefore its exclusivity will ensure that our clients stand out in a crowd! We have a wide collection of authentic silks and many other unique fabrics. We also have cotton sarees for day wear which is perfect for Sri Lanka. The latest collection is styled in ethnic prints such as animal prints and vintage florals in pastel hues. My favourite collections are the ethnic designs which feature art depicting different cultures. We chose this collection since it’s unique and artistic.
What would your autobiography be called?
Hmmm…let me ask this question from a few people and get back to you! :)
What would your pet say about you if we asked for a reference?
I don’t have a pet right now, so sadly I would have to speak to my future puppy or ducks and ask them what they would think of me…okay maybe they would say I’m lazy sometimes!
Where do you see yourself in 15 years?
I see myself being a better human being; I would be a successful person in whatever I do. Hopefully I would be a mother of two! I see myself being of more service to my country and the needy and less fortunate ones in Sri Lanka.
What else are you involved with, apart from Radha?
I am also involved in humanitarian work. I have been closely working with the Foundation of Goodness and other charity organisations in raising funds for the less fortunate kids in rural Sri Lanka, so that they may be encouraged to go to school by helping them to purchase school supplies. I would really appreciate it if there is anyone willing to donate to this worthy cause that would provide education for a child.
If you wish to fund a child’s education, please contact Kishani via her Facebook or the Foundation of Goodness directly at http://www.unconditionalcompassion.org/indexc.php