From sustainable interior design products to ethically-made toys, the social & environmental impact of your purchases is something to truly be proud of.
At Monkey Mind, we’ve taken inspiration from our roots in Sri Lankan culture and adopted an ethos that we hope will inspire others to follow suit: we believe that traditional knowledge can provide valuable insights into a more sustainable future.
This is why we celebrate centuries-old manufacturing methods and give new life to forgotten skills. Using traditional equipment such as handlooms, we make everything by hand with natural, renewable, or upcycled materials.
Working with incredibly talented Sri Lankan weavers, loomers, and artisans, we aim to showcase the durability, comfort, and premium quality of eco-friendly and natural materials. Everything we offer in our store is beautiful, functional and effortlessly ergonomic, exactly as we all expect — just without the negative social and environmental impact.
Whether you want to enhance your home with an eco-friendly bean bag, or give the gift of a zero-waste stuffed toy, all we ask is that you remember that all of our products are handmade with love. Love for people, and love for the environment.
– Nali & Rudy
Nalika Gajaweera, PhD
Born in Virginia Beach, but raised in Sri Lanka by my mother, grandmothers and sisters, I experienced firsthand a lifestyle that is gentler and more attuned to the environment. Today, I practice anthropology at the University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture, where travel, research, and teaching keep my eyes wide open to the stories and histories of different cultures, learning how communities adapt and wrestle with a globalizing world.
As a cultural anthropologist I understand that for humans to live a life that is more sustainable to the environment and equitable for more people, we must pay attention to the knowledge, innovations, and practices that emerge from a holistic approach to culture. Most indigenous cultures and communities that remain in touch with their artisanal histories understand that the things they make are not separate from their spirituality, food, health, or the political and economic systems that arise from these everyday practices. For instance, growing up in Sri Lanka coconuts are not just sweet sweet hydration, but their husks, leaves, trunk, flesh and sweet liqueur make their way as tools and accessories in our kitchen, gardens, the food, medicine, and our hair.
Monkey Mind is my attempt to keep the folk knowledge of Sri Lankan culture alive by collaborating and innovating together with local artisans and creative entrepreneurs who share our values and vision.
Anuradha “Rudy” Edirisinghe
I was born in the old Dutch colonial town of Galle in the southern coast of Sri Lanka and raised in the highland city of Kandy. Growing up in Kandy easily lends itself to cultural immersion as the city has been a major cultural and artistic center since the middle ages or earlier. I grew up there at a time of significant cultural and social change in Sri Lanka; the traditional ways of the older generations rapidly giving way to a recognizably modern consumer culture.
My generation was profoundly influenced by the 30-year civil war in Sri Lanka. Social upheavals of that time led many young people to make unorthodox life choices. In my case, it took the form of an interest in social activism and nonprofit work very early on, which culminated in my forming a nonprofit technology startup dedicated to developing networking software that helped nonprofits collaborate better.
Drawing from my own life experiences, I am deeply concerned about the rapid disappearance of traditional modes of life. This is both from the perspectives of the people living these lives and for the profound cultural loss that it entails for us all. I think older cultures have valuable lessons to teach us in our efforts to live more sustainably and equitably. I feel that for traditional ways to be conserved effectively, they need to be translated and recontextualized to suit the needs of our times. In that sense, the modern conscious consumer may be our best advocate. This is what that Monkey Mind project is really all about.
Women’s empowerment: The majority of our weavers and artisans are women, often from female-headed households. We also don’t employ factories or assembly lines. Instead, products such as our bedspreads and beanbag covers are made by artisans in their own homes (or in fairtrade cottage workshops close to home). This allows these women to earn an income while also taking care of their families.
Eco-friendly manufacturing: Manufacturing processes used for our products (even our toys!) have an extremely low carbon footprint. This is because we utilize traditional techniques and equipment such as handlooms and hand stitching. We also use recycled/upcycled materials or 100% natural raw materials such as cotton or agave yarn.
Cultural preservation: The global importance of Sri Lankan weaving traditions was recently recognized by UNESCO when it included one type of Sri Lankan traditional weaving (Dumbara Ratā Kalāla) in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. We aim to help keep this momentum going by strengthening and preserving these traditions further, through our commitment to traditional artisan communities.
We don’t employ factories or assembly lines: All of the products we sell are produced in small fairtrade cottage workshops or at the homes of our artisans.
Earth-friendly & sustainable manufacturing: We use low carbon footprint equipment such as wooden looms.
Natural and upcycled raw materials: We primarily use cotton, agave and other plant materials. Our stuffed animal toys are also a zero-waste product — meaning that we use the materials available to us to create vibrant and unique color and texture combinations.
Handmade: Almost everything we do is hand-dyed, handwoven, and hand-embroidered in small batches.
Fairtrade work: Our artisans are always paid fairly and work in safe working conditions, often at home. They are able to earn an income while having the time to take care of their families.