My love of all things Sri Lanka stems from my teenage years when my family lived in the capital, Colombo, for a few years. We travelled extensively around the island, visiting magical ancient sites with imposing statues of Buddha, seeing elephants by the roadside and swimming at near-deserted beaches. We marvelled at the concept of curry for breakfast and were mesmerised by the sights and sounds of the Perahera, a Buddhist festival in the ancient kingdom of Kandy. Even the place names filled us with delight - surely there couldn’t really be a place called Trincomalee?
What stayed with me long after we left, however, was the range of handcrafts that we picked up on our travels. We often stopped at roadside workshops in search of new things, and in particular I sought out the vivid, jewel-coloured lacquer pots and elephant figurines. Our family home back in the UK is full of bright handwoven fabrics from Barefoot, batik artworks, terracotta urns, cane furniture and intricately carved wooden panels.
Serendip was born out of my love for the island and the beautiful objects that we collected. In later life I grew to appreciate the skills of the local artisans who made these wonderful things - carved, etched, painted or handwoven using traditional methods passed down the generations.
Now, having re-established my connections with Sri Lanka, I work with a wide network of independent artisans to bring ethically sourced, sustainable, ecological and entirely hand-made items for everyone to enjoy. Every product range is carefully selected after visiting the artisan in their home or workshop. Each beautiful piece you find in the Serendip store contributes directly to the person who made it. I hope you love these products as much as I do.
Sarah Baldwin (owner, Serendip)
The meaning of Serendip
Sri Lanka has been known by many names in the past. The ancient Greeks called it Taprobane, the Romans knew it as Selan, the Portuguese and Dutch referred to it as Zeilan (later adapted to Ceylon by the British). Arab traders in the middle ages called it Serendib, and the Persian variation, Serendip, gave rise to an ancient Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip, whose heroes were always making accidental discoveries of things they were not looking for. It is from this story that we get the word serendipity, first used by Horace Walpole in 1754.