Serendip – regenerating local communities through social enterprise

Sarah Baldwin’s teenage years were spent travelling the globe as her father’s career took the family around the world. Some of these years were spent in Sri Lanka, which would later have a profound effect on Sarah. Whilst she fell in love with the island it was the intricate, colourful objects that she found on her travels that really captivated her. Beautifully decorated elephant figures, brightly painted wooden boxes and jewel-coloured fabrics that Sarah discovered on her travels left a lasting impression on her.

Sarah returned to Sri Lanka as an adult and re-established her connections. She found a deeper appreciation for the objects she had so admired on learning that they were made by local artisans with skills passed down generations; skills which were on the brink of disappearing in the modern world. Sarah decided to do something about it and set up Serendip – a social enterprise that worked with local craftspeople and artisans of Sri Lanka and helped them bring their products to a wider audience.

Serendip would pay the artisans directly and remove any middle-persons allowing the artists to earn a higher amount.

Since then, Serendip has built a network of artisans across fabric weaving, wood carving, folk art and work with them closely. Sarah has established direct partnerships with craftspeople and has the support of the Sri Lankan government-sponsored Kandyan Arts Association. Since the pandemic the work that comes through Serendip has become ever-more important to the artisans as tourism on the island shut down entirely.

Some of the items available on Serendip website include Buddhist Temple style paintings, hand-painted wooden plates, upcycled rice sack bags and coconut shell bowls. Each item has its own story and the website introduces the artisans who made the products.

At a time when we have become ever-more conscious of how and where we spend money these make unique gifts for Mother’s Day, birthdays or even a more mindful treat for ourselves. With prices starting from just £5.50 and each item supporting the artisan that made it, this is the regenerative gifting that we are happy to get behind.