about us // designer bio

DESIGNER BIO

Behind every person
there is a story…

On Becoming a Designer….

Becoming a designer was not a straightforward path for me, but more of a calling from within. I was born in Sri Lanka, but adopted to Sweden when I was two months old. So, I guess you could say I am a mix of eastern and western cultures, even though it is a very cliché way of defining oneself.

I was raised in an industrial city, Malmö, located in the south of Sweden. Fashion was not something that anyone did around me when I grew up, but it somehow always attracted me. Many years later I found out that my biological mother was a designer for Saaris in Sri Lanka. So, in some ways her creative gift was passed down to me, which I am very grateful for. So, everything I design sort of stems from her, even if I never had the pleasure of meeting her after my adoption.

I was never attracted by the branding obsession and the commercial side of Fashion, but more towards the art of illustration, and the craft of designing itself. I am still an introvert artist, who would prefer to sit alone with my art and let others deal with the outside world. But, that rarely happens anymore as life gets in the way.

When I was seventeen my design career began after a quite traumatic experience. I became paralysed in my entire left side at the age of sixteen. I was then diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). This was a wake-up call to not take life for granted, nor the time I have left on this planet. So, I changed academic course from science to fashion, and I have never regretted it.

During my early 20’s I was privileged to work in many countries like Italy; UK; Greece; and Cyprus with fashion. I had daytime jobs in the industry, and freelanced in parallel with my own label for many years. I struggled with my identity and whom I wanted to be in this world. My upbringing could be described as quite dark, but it did program me with values. Human values.

When working in the fashion industry, I found myself biting my tounge and compromising who I was, and my values; just to be able to work with what I loved. I also had to hide my MS, as I knew that nobody would hire me if they knew. It was very challenging on many levels, and in the end, I could just not be a part of this industry anymore.

An industry that replaces humans after wearing them down like old garment; An industry that for years have not taken any responsibility in the environmental impact that its production processes has had on this planet; An industry that treats human lives in the factories that produce their garments, as caged animals. What is there to love about that? I just did not want to benefit that evil machine anymore, so I left.

On deciding to come back…

I started a family and got two beautiful boys with AST spectrum diagnoses. That is when I understood how truly awful this world is that I had brought them into, and the challenges they would face when I was no longer here to defend them; if the world doesn’t change, that is. So, I decided to make my legacy greater than that. I had to devote all that I had to take a stand, and to affect the world in what I believe was a positive direction the best I could. The result of this process was Storiebank.

I went back to University to study Linguistics and Literature. I built a house with the childrens father and settled down. But in designing my house, I realised how much I missed designing, and the creative processes that follows. I had no desire to come back to the industry I left behind. But was there another way? I realised that it is hard to teach an old dog how to sit, and I don’t want to surround myself with people who do not share my values on inclusion. It just drains me with energy.

I started a family and got two beautiful boys with AST spectrum diagnoses. That is when I understood how truly awful this world is that I had brought them into, and the challenges they would face when I was no longer here to defend them; if the world doesn’t change, that is. So, I decided to make my legacy greater than that. I had to devote all that I had to take a stand, and to affect the world in what I believe was a positive direction the best I could. The result of this process was Storiebank.

So, instead of changing the industry, I decided to create a sub-world when creating Storiebank. Since it is a new world, there are no old norms molding the creative output. But it is a world I wish to share with all who share the creative vision on inclusion. It is fully understandable that far from everybody is ready for such a change. But I am tired of raising children in a world that is turning colder by the day. I am tired of seeing dreams shattered in the most creative and amazing minds because socially constructed knowledges have decided that some don’t belong.

I say we all do. Representation matters, and Storiebank is here to offer a new path and a haven to breathe and exist in. If I was ever to put my creative ideas out there again, I would make sure that they were all labelled and DNA-marinated with my values.

On health setbacks…

Storiebank has taken form in my mind since 2011, when my first son was born. But as many know, the first years with children are tough, and leaves very little room for anything but child care. After giving birth, my MS and general health deteriorated. I had trouble walking and my fatigue was draining me. The stressful life of beeing a special-needs Mom with all that such involves, did not help.

Eventually my legs caved in completely and I ended up in a wheelchair. I was able to walk 80m in 3 min on a good day and some days nothing at all. The dream of designing again was far away from the reality I was living. I was unable to dress myself; eat, or take care of my hygiene. I was in need of a carer for both me and the kids, but the government refused to give me onc. The situation was dark, and I remember some days literally crawling out of bed to make breakfast for the kids. I was at the bottom of life, and tossed around in the health care system where nobody understood how bad things were. I was terrified to lose the kids. But I was starting to prepare for death, as life was slipping through my fingers.

But then I decided I had to try to do something, so my kids would know I did everything I could to change the situation. In 2017 I decided after having waited unsuccessfully and in vain for years to qualify into a HSCT/Stemcell treatment in Sweden, to get one done abroad.

I was strongly advised not to go by the Neurologists in Sweden, and I heard various racist comments about treatments abroad. However, beeing stubborn and trusting my inner voice, I found a HSCT treatment (Stemcell) in Mexico, and decided to go anyway. In October 2017 I left for Mexico, not knowing if I would return. In my head I thought it was better to die on the other side of the world trying to get better, than to slowly fade away in front of my children’s eyes. Although once in Mexico I changed that thought, and the day I die in the future I want my loved ones near. Luckily it was not my time to go.

After a one-month of intense chemotherapy treatment, followed by a stemcell injection (derived from my own blood) I was reborn.

I was able to go home and hug my children. And I swore to never leave them again. And since then I have stayed by their side, and I am lucky to have a fully functional life with very little MS Symptoms now, compared to before.The treatment is meant to only halt the MS, but mine was reversed which happens in some cases. I started out on an EDSS scale of 5.5 and Secondary Progressive MS pre-treatment, and went down to an EDSS 3 after six months post, and EDSS O after a year post the treatment. I have been lucky to remain at an EDSS 0, with very little MS symptoms to this day.

I could walk again, and my pain was gone (I also had Fibromyalgia and arthritis pains 24h/day). Although the treatment was one of the worst things, I had ever experienced, it saved my life, regardless of what diagnose it saved me from. A year after the treatment I discovered through an MRI that I may have had a Stroke lesion at the same time as my aggressive MS occurred. This is currently beeing legally processed in Sweden, weather it was misdiagnosed and neglected or not. If it turns out it was a Stroke as well, it is impossible to say if the treatment saved me from MS or if it saved me from a Stroke. If it was not a Stroke then I might have been one of the lucky few whom has been cured from MS.

My lesions in the brain are still the same as before the treatment (just not active), and could be activated again. They are like little scars that never go away, and right now they have remained passive. So, the result of the treatment is that it halted the MS, but what caused me to improve is still a mystery.

In this story I do wish to highlight that this is not a universal result for everyone whom undergoes HSCT. Some die of sepsis, and some have to abort the treatment halfway through because the body is to weak from the chemo. I was lucky, and fortunate in so many ways. I was fortunate to have the financial ability to get the treatment. I really wish everyone with MS would get the opportunity to choose. It is a cruel illness that takes away everything from a person.

On recovering…

In the chemotherapy room in Mexico I spent hours with an IV while the chemo was slowly killing every cell in my body. Everyone had their loved ones there by their side in that room. I was alone. The children’s father had to take care of the kids as we had nobody to help us watch them for a month, or even for a day.

I felt alone and weak. I slipped further and further into a dark place in my mind. But then I realised something that had always been with me and never left me, and that was my creativity. I was no longer alone. So, I began to design and draft in the chemo room.

I started drafting on a fashion show, and I said if I get out of here alive, I will produce this show. It kept me alive and not vomiting constantly.

During the first year I did a lot of physiotherapy, and my PT had never seen any recovery like this before. I was so fortunate to have him by my side to help me. We set up a goal that in one year I would play Handball again, if only for two minutes. I used to do this when my MS broke out at seventeen, so I always felt I wanted to go back to finish it. I had more to give, and I loved the game, even if I was rubbish at it.

So, in one year I started to play senior handball, and two of my old teammates from my teenage years joined me. And after one season I played my first game in twenty years. So, I guess you could say I got my revenge on my MS.

Post HSCT life…

I am now right at the beginning of a new journey in my life where I now give birth to Storiebank. I wanted you all to know my story, and where my designs stem from. Also, from where I began and where I wish to go. Even if it ends with one collection, it is not the success that drives me. I am not scared of failing, instead I am so grateful that I get to do this again. The joy is greater than the fear.

I want to give more people the chance to be a part of this journey, regardless or age; gender; race; disability or having children with disabilities. I understand that such situations require flexibility to be able to work, and I wish for Storiebank to grow, so we can be that place where we make room for creative talent that would otherwise be stuck inside brilliant individuals.

If anything, at least I rose from darkness and death and came into the light. Stronger, and as a better person. The mere attempt to start Storiebank will be a legacy to my children. They will know I stood for something, that I did not fear darkness, and that my love for them is greater than life.