Get a-MAZE-d with Prabath Seneviratne, Founder of Sri Lanka's Trendiest Socks!
Working a 9-5 job is safe, but what’s life without a little adventure? Prabath saw an opportunity to bring vibrant tuk-tuks, kokis, and coconut trees to the socks we wear, and he was in for a fantastic journey.
Previously an employer of Lion Brewery and handling world-class brands’, Prabath’s job was not monotonous at all. However, time was slipping away, and the precious hours he could spend with his family, especially his daughter, had to be spent on corporate matters daily. It was of paramount importance to him to find an alternative with more flexibility and with the ability to make his own decisions. And so, he took a leap of faith and started the journey of MAZE!
“The four inches of personality” -MAZE
Socks are a subtle art of showing your personality. For corporate men, there are not enough options of attire to play around with. However, Prabath was always fascinated by how the international market and foreign men were very keen on wearing unique socks in vibrant colors, eccentric patterns like the London Eye, the Eiffel Tower, or colors you don’t see every day. And when he turned to Sri Lanka, men were still opting for the simple unicolor socks. He questioned himself, “Why can’t we have socks with Kokis or Jambu on them? Or a tuk-tuk? I see a gap in the market, and how can I bridge this gap?”
What a rollercoaster ride!
Quitting his corporate job, he started his own venture with the name ‘MAZE,’ with a few talented, young individuals. It was quite challenging to handle all aspects of a business alone, as he was a Marketing Specialist with limited knowledge of finance, operations, human resources, etc. His enthusiasm to learn and experiment came in handy, and it was quite a ‘learning in the process’ journey for him. The majority of his team are millennials with unbelievably unique ideas and very open-minded personalities.
MAZE was not wholeheartedly welcomed by the Sri Lankans at first. First came the young rebels who saw the opportunity to stand out from the rest with the addictive patterns on these socks. The trend was set. The market slowly expanded, resulting in Prabath getting an invitation from the One Galle Face Mall and Caramel Pumpkin Café to open retail stores, a significant turning point in his business.
“You need to keep your emotional decisions and ego apart when you run your own business. Having an open mind, being practical, and being patient has helped me thrive and achieve more in my business as well as my personal life.”
“I wouldn’t change a thing!”
Prabath’s belief is that the knowledge he gained and the experience in the marketing field have given him a tremendous amount of strength, confidence, and courage to come this far. He mentioned how we wish that he could have started MAZE sooner, nevertheless grateful for the life experiences and contacts he gained during all these years, which made his journey more exciting and adventurous.
“My experiences and knowledge paved the way for my business. So, if I could go back and change one thing, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Prabath’s goal is to start expanding MAZE to reach a broader customer base, locally and internationally. He can take an authentic Sri Lankan product to the global market where Ceylon’s traditions, culture, and beauty could be seen through millions of eyes.
Supporting the Sri Lankan economy and uplifting Sri Lankan livelihood
Prabath is a person with a friendly nature, and his workforce has no hierarchy at all. From designing to packing to shipping MAZE, he helps his co-workers with anything and everything. He does not believe in the traditional bossy nature in the corporate sector and has been an outstanding leader whom the youngsters could look up to.
“Start a business without dreaming about high profits and a clear bottom line. Never look back. And while you gain something, give something back to the society as well.”
MAZE is only two years old but has done more towards the community than businesses that have been in the industry for longer. A percentage of all sales is donated to help the differently-abled children in Sri Lanka from every pair of socks they sell. During the COVID-19 pandemic, MAZE donated around 1000 pairs of socks to the healthcare sector in Sri Lanka.
“It feels nice to be a colorful brand with a foothold in one of the biggest shopping destinations in Sri Lanka. However, in MAZE, we never forget to help society with whatever little we make. I believe when we continue to serve the society, the society will look after you and repay you.”