Heart to Heart....By Martin Sawden

I met Ermila for the first time in her favourite coffee shop in the heart of Salisbury. As with all my interviews I had no particular agenda but to get to the heart of what inspired Ermila to create Winter in Venice. Behind the corporate looking banner and branding lies a mission driven by the need to nurture and love. – This is what defines the drive to create a brand that creates a platform for people to communicate these feelings and enjoy the essence of feeling nurtured and loved.

Diving into Ermila’s childhood was an interesting correlation to see how the child now a woman sees her part in this world. She recalls never being keen about enjoying birthday parties as a child. Feeding those who had everything over feeding those who didn’t have anything seemed a less appealing concept even to a six year old. Growing up in Sri Lanka she often insisted on having her birthday parties in orphanages for children war-torn and destitute. Her parents always encouraged her. Mummy was a lawyer banker and daddy was a high profile Management consultant. Ermila grew up in a board room and whilst the corporate culture was ingrained into her DNA it appears she wanted no part of it.

As each year passed her spirit and philanthropically motivated plans to do more blossomed. Her mother would send Ermila with the chauffeur and nanny around the streets of Colombo handing food parcels to the homeless or give alms to monks and elderly people in care homes who had no families to look after them. She spent three years in her teens teaching English in orphanages out in Sri Lanka. It comes as no surprise then whether she is 5 or 35 not much has changed. She invariably spends her birthdays in the coldest of November here in England handing out warm clothing and food to the homeless or the less fortunate. A life of service is how she puts it.

Ermila is driven with an insatiable appetite to make a difference through the work she does and Winter in Venice is the vehicle from which she does this. I asked Ermila what inspired her to create Winter in Venice… it wasn’t until recently did she confess that the motivations have never been financial rewards. They have been about creating an avenue for people to communicate love.

Emotions... are communicated in many ways and often tokens are used to do this as it is a symbolic gesture to say hello, I love you, I’m sorry or as casual as I’m thinking about you... Whatever the feeling it is always underpinned by the over pouring warmth of love and that wonderful feeling where you are left pampered and nurtured.

"I didn’t know a shower or a bath can make you feel these things"... I tease and jest Ermila... She smiled and said the most interesting thing about water is that it holds the purest of vibrations and having a scented bath or refreshing shower can simply align you into factory settings, a bit like pressing the reboot button when your computer crashes. Our minds and bodies are no different.

Needless to say Ermila is quite the spiritualist and will interrupt board meetings to go lie on the grass or perform some simple tai chi movements whilst in the middle of making important decisions if she feels she needs that extra boost of energy. I see that she radiates a sense of enthusiasm and love for life and being the non-conformist that she is I am not surprised by her thought process either. Her team understand that she does things differently and the relationship is that of love and respect over fear and duty. This transmutes through every layer of the company.

Winter in Venice is all about creating avenues to nurture and be nurtured or feel nurtured and loved. Great emphasis is placed on the reusability of items so that the gift is a constant reminder of the person who gave it to you... nothing gets thrown away. I think the packaging used in the products serves as constant reminders of the gift and this plays a great role in triggering memories and feelings. "What a wonderful concept," I said. - "It wasn’t even intentional you know," Ermila replied.

Having suffered abandonment at a very young age (the death of her primary care giver, her Grandma Mercy ) has in a subliminal way affected the way Ermila turned out. Choosing to create a continuum and nostalgic reminders of loved ones is so evident in concept behind Winter in Venice.

You only need notice the permanency of the product and the way the scents trigger memories of days gone by. This marries perfectly with what she has created in the brand. An avenue to master what she struggled with as a child. A co-relation between the lack of nurturing versus a brand that is defined by the art of nurturing... She smiles and says... "Well, if you ever want to understand the adult in someone seek to understand the six year old first."

Grandma Mercy lives on in Ermila and all that she does. Whilst to live in the past is no way to plan the future, it is still a comforting blanket to have when you close your eyes and it takes you back to and into the arms of the people you love and who love you whether they are with us or not... they live constantly and infinitely in our hearts... the scent of a cologne or a sprig of lavender can have the most amazing effect on your senses. This is why a great deal of care has gone into selecting the scents used in Winter in Venice.

What was also rewarding about this young entrepreneur is that she uses a great portion of the company's profits to fund her work with various charities around the world. Please click Our Charities to view a list of charities you can help towards. Ermila is currently working on building a health centre in Ghana for orphans. If you wish to be involved please contact charities@winterinvenice.co.uk and we will send you the information pack.

When I asked Ermila what drives her to give so much of herself her answer was a simple one... "If I had everything, I would give everything and the universe gives me everything so I give everything back.. it’s a continuous cycle of the way energy flows. To be focused on the lack of things is to create that lack or deficit. To be focused on the abundance of life is to attract abundance constantly, which in return paves the way to give all that I am so when I leave this earth I have in some small way made a difference.

"We stopped evolving from an ape into a human. But humanity is evolving yet another tier... this way of life is a part of the new evolution – understanding energy and the laws of attraction is all that we do. What is like attracts like."

Enough said. I leave Ermila feeling thirsty for more emotionally and mentally stimulating conversations of her views on life and why we do what we do.

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