"There is enough room in the world for all of us"
Since its initial conceptualization, to the well-known brand loved by young and old alike today, the story of Embark traces its beginnings to a pure desire, passion and love to make a change in the lives of the unwanted and unloved.Choosing to make a difference and highlighting a cause close to Otara’s heart, Embark was launched in March 2007, with only 20 sq. ft. of space at the Odel Flagship store, Alexandra Place. Retailing a line of 6 black and white t-shirt styles, this collection was only the beginning in what would be the change in the lives of countless street dogs around Sri Lanka. Early in the following year, Otara adopted a street pooch Niko, a name that has now become synonymous with the Embark brand. As the ambassador of Embark, Niko has gone on to become one of the most recognized street dogs in the country! With his rising fame, he carried the message that owning a street dog was “fashionable” – bringing hope to others like him all over the island.
Just over two years later, Otara found a puppy dumped on her doorstep and placed cruelly in a bag – black and white spotted and full of life. She decided to keep the puppy and named him Bandit. Soon, the famous street pooch trio was to be complete when Otara adopted Rozzy;
I encountered Rozzy when driving down Rosmead Place – hence, the name. I saw a little puppy being chased and stoned by people. She was so tiny and scared – I stopped the car and she came running and jumped right into my arms!
Niko, Bandit and Rozzy bring so much love and happiness into my family’s life every day and they ask for so little in return. I always had pedigree dogs and never realized how much love “unwanted dogs” had to offer.
In July 2009, Embark shimmied down the catwalk with a bang at its inaugural fashion show. Models took to the catwalk sporting the best accessory they could wear – a rescued street puppy! In a breakout move, Embark designs moved away from its hallmark monochrome look and showcased a collection that would appeal to people of all ages and preferences. With shout-out-loud colors and diverse t-shirt silhouettes, the new collection featured more than 150 items – doubling its floor space to accommodate the new pieces. By the end of that year, Embark moved into dog products; with a focus on leads, collars and accessories – proving that its products could not only make owners “pashionable,” but their pets as well!
In 2010 and 2011 respectively, Embark took its fashion shows to a nation-wide platform by participating in Colombo Fashion Week. With the “Love Niko” and “Niko & Bandit” collections, the models once again owned the ramp with trendy designs and adorable street pups! The collection caught the eye of a retailer from India which led to Embark products being sold outside Sri Lanka for the first time, thus granting vital exposure to international markets.
In commemoration of World Animal Day, October 2010, a limited edition of Wristbands were introduced and proudly sported by Embark volunteers at a walk organized by Odel. By February 2011, these same bands were released to the public, and since then have become iconic for supporters of the cause.
Embark collections featuring its ambassador Niko and his new friend Bandit continued over the years with much success. Products built around fun themes such as; “Niko goes to Hollywood” brought the glitz and glamor of Tinsel Town to trendy casual clothing, while “Niko the Flirt” featured catchy slogans and double ententes like “Barkalicious” and “Wag Harder.” “Niko the Spy” and “Niko goes to Hollywood” were some of the other collections that ensured the Embark line grew and flourished.
By March 2012, Embark celebrated its 5 year anniversary with 2, 140 sq. ft. of physical store space and over 160 items in its new collection. Never forgetting the innovative spirit and core ideals which set it in motion; while helping thousands of street dogs over the years, Embark has retained the originality which has made it uniquely special since inception. While purposefully staying away from negative imagery, the brand has consistently depicted the happiness and love these street dogs want to give, while maintaining high product quality and a distinct style.
Embark’s story is one to tell, yet of course this is only the beginning with Otara’s efforts now directed at the cause full time. The vision remains as worthy as ever, and their four-legged friends depend more and more on the initiative every single day. Embark’s dream remains as it always was – to provide a better life for the street dogs of Sri Lanka and to give them the love, respect and home they deserve; as the Team looks towards the future in anticipation to see this dream…become a reality.