An assiduous journey in entrepreneurship, often highlights the passion and courage in conquering the corporate arena. Prominently, a female accentuating the tenets of a business, calibrates a well scripted origin within the business community. Capturing her intentions through the essence of femininity and entrepreneurship, Ermila Jayasuriya Curtis, the Founder and Managing Directress of Winter in Venice, shares her narrative in the wellness trade!
Ermila schooled at Ladies College and later pursued her higher education at Royal Institute. However, unlike her peers, Ermila found herself quite distant from her peers. Instead, she found solace and peace with her own company. Considering that she was a late bloomer, Ermila faced learning difficulties whilst battling an underdeveloped educational system that would corner children ‘differently’, rather than helping them prosper ‘uniquely’. Tragically, Ermila has often felt like an outsider despite the upper-middle-class family she was born into. Furthermore, losing her beloved grandmother at the tender age of six played an enormous part in life, making her the woman she is today.
“I am driven with only one quest and that is to feel safe. It is my view that children who suffer emotional trauma suffer from an inherent feeling of feeling ‘unsafe’. It is this feeling that drives them to create a carpet of security that no one else can pull from underneath them. Thus, great entrepreneurs are born through trauma,” Ermila says, reiterating her belief that children and their response to trauma are a part of the journey in making them into daring transformers of dreams to reality. She also seconds that the initial stage of the journey is bound to be difficult. Yet, a path every individual must overcome!
“I wouldn’t change my childhood even if I could. Whilst it is so easy to undo the cocoon in which a caterpillar struggles to become a butterfly, it is important to understand the benefit and value of this struggle for it is that very struggle that strengthens its legs and wings. Cutting open a cocoon in the belief that it would make the butterfly’s life easy would be detrimental to this butterfly as it is only through the tumultuous struggle that it gains its strength to fly”.
“Ultimately trauma either represses or exaggerates what’s already there. That’s why two different people who go through the same trauma, react and adapt differently based on their innate dispositions.”
Scents and aromas have always enkindled a peaceful state to Ermila, giving meaning to the interests that stemmed for wellness products. Ermila states, “I comprehended the value of trading at the age of 23. Therefore, I was buying and selling for a profit and was quite satisfied when closing deals”. Being a natural in ‘commerce’, expanding her innate talent in understanding the nitty-gritty details of numbers, Ermila understood her ability to support her entrepreneurship skills. Catering to high-end bath and body products, Winter in Venice, showcases a large range of cherishable products for their customers. Furthermore, these valuables are often wrapped with sophistication and elegance, hence diverging the attention to qualities they strive to bestow to their customers.
The challenging facet of establishing and growing her business had always been the process of gathering knowledge, by inclining her academic levels in chemistry and regulatory directives involved with the operations. “Forex variables, and supply chain deviations or deficiencies can be challenging, especially when you have over 300 componentry suppliers to vet and manage on a periodic basis,” said Ermila. During times of crisis, she believes that every entrepreneur must be prepared with a plan B up their sleeve, in order to control variables that are bound to reduce the possibility of running a business successfully.
The brand image of ‘Winter in Venice’ started with a dream – a literal dream! “I had an inspiring dream, and I remember sitting up in bed around 3 am in the morning covered in goose bumps. I saw a vision of a woman sitting by a quaint Georgian hotel room window overlooking St Mark’s square. It was snowing outside, and I could see the gondolas gently teasing over the edge of the water in the distance. The woman in my dream looks back and walks towards a roaring fire and a bath that has been drawn for her. It was my version of ‘Winter in Venice’. I wanted to bottle that moment and share it with the world.”
A dream driven by passion and the mere intention, Ermila endures to contribute to the world by providing a sturdy service, to face and survive the economic changes amidst the worldwide pandemic. Ermila stands tall as the first Sri Lankan-born entrepreneur to be awarded a place on the prestigious FT1000 Fastest Growing Companies in Europe List. She has achieved this with a great deal of strength, discipline, stealth, and courage during a world grappled with the worst pandemic in two hundred years.
“Fear of the unknown stops many entrepreneurs from trying”, perceives Ermila. Being an individual who faced significant levels of failure and hardship in life, Ermila interprets this as a life lesson and is very grateful for it. “Winter in Venice is a gifting experience, inducing flashbacks or creating memories”. She believes in “making time for ‘time out’ as it is the only way to recharge one’s batteries”. The brand strives to market not a simple product, but a holistic experience to their customers. They ensure that their products are packaged in reusable material, entitling every gift a memory of the special someone. “Winter in Venice is all about creating avenues to nurture and be nurtured”.
Although the business has widened its horizons across the world, it is yet to reach Sri Lanka, due to the custom red tapes barricading her interest. Ermila however possesses a strong urge to fulfil her dreams of expanding her inventions to her motherland. Meanwhile, adding essence to her patriotic intentions, Ermila has always been a constant contributor to various charities based in Sri Lanka. Concluding her story, Ermila defines success as the process of owning one’s own time. “As Kevin O’Leary once said, A salary is a drug they give you to forget your dreams. For me, Success is being able to go sit by the sea tomorrow because I can. No one else owns my time.”