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Start, strive and succeed!

Dancing is her  gift and passion
Dancing is her gift and passion

She is young. She is chic. She is savvy and bursting with enthusiasm! Winning the first runner up title in Miss Intercontinental Sri Lanka 2019 gave her the much needed break to achieve her dream of becoming an entrepreneur with a product to her name. With ‘Kamaaliya’ her newly established clothing brand, Anjuni Hettiarachchi saw her childhood aspiration turn into a reality.

Inspired by the elegant evening dresses designed by Gihan Nanayakkara for Orient Designs and keen to follow her mother’s footsteps, Anjuni decided to take part in the prestigious beauty pageant with the aim of meeting experts in the industry from whom she can glean knowledge. Soon.she managed to achieve her goal from the exposure she got at the event.

“If I had gotten the opportunity to represent Sri Lanka on the international platform, then that would have been an added bonus. That experience would build my confidence and help me build an international network,” Anjuni explained.

Her leap of faith was rewarded. Not only did she shine at the event as the first runner up but she also managed to take home the Miss Photogenic mini title.

Winning the first runner up title

“The Miss Elegant and Miss Photogenic mini pageants were the most challenging events in the competition for me. I come from a conservative background and I am not accustomed to posing in front of a camera. I have no modeling or posing experience prior to the competition. Winning the Miss Photogenic title was a pleasant surprise, especially since it was conducted by one of the country’s seasoned photographers, Prishan Pandithage,” she enthused.

Much like her mother who is a gifted Dress Designer with a flair for sewing, Anjuni too strives to learn something new and push boundaries. Since she has an innate talent for dancing, this 24-year-old beauty decided to use that skill and modeling to earn an income to reach her goal.

“Though I had been invited to take part in a few pageants before, I decided to try my luck at Miss Continental because it is an internationally acclaimed beauty pageant and professionals like Rozanne Diasz are involved in it. I also realized that the title will bring more recognition and generate a better income for me through commercials and modeling assignments,” she said.

She says that Miss Intercontinental provided a vast learning experience for her. From walking the ramp to posing for photos effortlessly and developing the confidence to face criticism, each event required the young lady to put in some hard work, discipline and self-belief. Though it may seem easy on the surface, but it takes a lot of will to succeed.

“I have a renewed respect for all the ladies out there trying to make a difference and wanting their voices to be heard in a man’s cynical world,” she opined on what she learnt by taking part in the çompetition.

Kamaaliya is named after Anjuni’s mother. Social media is her marketing tool for the products. Her collection is aimed at girls around her age seeking to find comfort and confidence through what they wear.

“What you wear speaks of who you are without you having to utter a single word. I have witnessed the difficulties that young girls face when they hunt for comfortable clothes to suit Sri Lanka’s tropical climate,” she expressed.

Anjuni believes in the importance of fitness thoroughly and says that beauty is a result of one’s fitness regime. She witnessed this when she was trained by Stretch N Tone founder Krishani George for the pageant. The ladies trained by George looked beautiful even in their 50s and 60s. An old girl of Vishaka Balika Vidyalaya, Sapugaskanda, Anjuni is the only child in her family. Her mother, Kamala Nanayakkara, is an entrepreneur. Anjuni is currently pursuing an external degree in Dancing and Performing Arts at Kelaniya University. She is employed at ‘Grains N Green’, a company which is the leading producer of ancient grains of rice and herbs.Anjuni’s other ambition is to establish her own dancing school to train children on her dancing techniques. Though she has received some acting offers Anjuni says that she is still contemplating them as she is focusing on building her brand first. She believes that her greatest strength is her mother who keeps inspiring her continuously while her greatest weakness is also her mother as she fears of failing her and her expectations.

“Her wish is for me to be happy always, but when one tries to achieve so much in life, failure is inevitable. This disheartens me. Learning from your mistakes and deriving strength from it requires tremendous willpower,” she pointed out.

Her wish for 2021 is for Sri Lanka and the rest of the world to be free from the coronavirus.

“It is a distressing and stressful experience but the pandemic has taught me to count my blessing each day,” she revealed with a note of optimism.