Embark, entrepreneur philanthropist Otara Gunewardene’s unique fashion brand with a cause, has forayed into independent retail with the opening of its first standalone store in Sri Lanka in the picturesque Galle Fort.

With a completely new look, the 5,500 square foot vibrant Embark store at 33, Lighthouse Street brings to life the pooch-inspired themes of the brand and features new additions to the collection of stylish clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and children.

Niko, the street pooch adopted by founder Otara Gunewardene whose stylised image has become an indelible symbol for the Embark label, is accorded pride of place in the new store via ‘Coffee with Niko’ – a stylish café for customers.

The décor of the store is also dominated by Niko and his best friends Bandit and Rozzy, later additions to Otara Gunewardene’s family of dogs adopted off the street, and the inspirations behind Embark collections of clothing and accessories.

“All of us at Embark are so excited to be able to open our first standalone store. Each day we work hard to give a better life to many dogs in need, and the communities they live in. With this store we hope we will be able to contribute to doing more in the years ahead as a lot of the work we do is supported by the profits from the sales of the brand. By buying an Embark product a customer is able to directly help a street dog in need,” Gunewardene said.

“Galle is a fascinating location for retail and an ideal setting for exposing the brand to people from all over the world. We are therefore delighted to open our first standalone Embark store in the Galle Fort.”
The new Embark store will be open seven days a week from 9am to 9 pm.

Launched in 2007, the main aim of the fashion brand has been to promote a culture of love and compassion for all living beings. Embark has been responsible for changing the way communities in Sri Lanka interact with strays through country-wide programmes of anti-rabies vaccination, sterilisation, animal rescue and treatment, puppy adoptions and educational programmes and by making the street dog fashionable to own.

In the eight years since its inception, Embark has evolved into a fashion brand with a large following in Sri Lanka and overseas that not only wears or uses the label’s clothing, accessories, back to school items and canine products, but also lives the cause by adopting a dog in need instead of buying one.

Embark’s activities are mostly funded by proceeds from the sale of Embark products. The label and its work with community animals has attracted both local international appreciation, and given a platform to a very special Sri Lankan breed of dog which was otherwise unwanted and mostly unloved.




July 20, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s fashion brand supported animal welfare programme, Embark has performed 2592 street dogs vaccinations, 1458 sterilizations and 51 adoptions, in first quarter of 2015-16, a statement said.

Embark and partner organisations have vaccinated 2,592 stray dogs, performed 1,458 sterilisations and given a total of 51 puppies in adoption between April and June 2015, a statement issued by the Embark foundation said.

“We are happy that we are gaining momentum as communities and local authorities around the country see the benefits and importance of working together for a good cause,” Otara Gunewardene, Founder and Entrepreneur, Embark said in the statement.

“It is a pleasure to see more and more people understand the importance of treating these sentient beings with kindness and love.”

When Embark celebrated its eighth anniversary in May this year, the programme had already been responsible for 14,183 sterilisations, 12,536 treatments, 33,901 vaccinations, and 2,105 adoptions.

The main objective of Embark is to change attitudes and mindsets amongst the public towards street dogs, the statement said.

“This is achieved by advocating practical approaches to connecting with community animals which will in turn reduce different forms of animal cruelty.”



When the Gallagés welcomed a new companion in to the family home at Mattegoda recently, their compassion had helped Embark reach another milestone of no little significance.

Eight week old Sandy, rescued off a by lane at Jawatte Road, Colombo 7, was the 2000th street pooch to find a foster home through the efforts of Embark – the fashion brand with a unique cause that has changed the way people in many parts of Sri Lanka treat free-roaming dogs.

Launched in 2007, Embark has made it fashionable to own a street dog and to show Sri Lanka as well as the world the struggle that these animals face. People can live the brand through how they dress and support the cause of spreading love and kindness as they shop.


Dedicated to helping communities eliminate the risk of rabies through a more civilised, pragmatic, caring and fun approach to the problem of stray dogs, Embark conducts a puppy adoption day in Colombo once a month, and similar adoption days in Kandy, Negombo and Ja-Ela every three months.


These adoption days, as well as many other initiatives such as vaccination and sterilisation programmes, rescue and treatment of injured animals and effective messaging via many collections of clothing and accessories bearing the Embark label, have brought happiness and understanding to many families such as the Gallagés of Mattegoda, while finding happy homes for 2,000 dogs.


Puppies that are rescued from the streets are cared for by Embark until they are old enough for adoption. This foster system allows the pups to enjoy a loving temporary home, with Embark covering all medical expenses. Prior to adoption, Embark arranges for each dog to be vaccinated.

“When you adopt a pet from a shelter, you save two lives,” says Lakmali Gallagé, Sandy’s new owner, “The one you adopt and the one that takes its place.”


“The response from the people over the years towards these wonderful animals who are a part of our lives is truly encouraging. More and more people want to make a change not only in the lives of street dogs but also their own by being more compassionate,” a spokesperson for Embark said.


The Embark Adoption Day in Colombo is held on the last Sunday of every month at the ‘Araliya’ car park at Crescat from 2.30pm to 5pm.





Sigiriya, the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka and its environs have become the latest example of responsible management of community canines, following the completion of the third phase of the Sigiriya Animal Protection Project by Embark.


The unique fashion brand linked to community animal welfare has reported that its team has conducted a total of 313 sterilisations, 349 vaccinations and 124 treatments over seven clinic days in the areas of Rotawewa, Inamaluwa, Digampathana and the Pidurangala Air force camp, under this phase of the project.


The project began in October 2014 and had by the end of its third phase, vaccinated 1,138 and sterilised 776 owned and community dogs as part of its commitment.


The Sigiriya project is sustained by assistance received from the Fondation Brigitte Bardot (The Brigitte Bardot Foundation) – the leading animal protection organisation in France, Best Care Animal Hospital – Embark’s veterinary partner, and Jetwing Vil Uyana. Its objectives include educating the community on responsible pet ownership, promoting compassion towards community animals and their management, and supporting national efforts to eliminate rabies.


The third phase of the project took place during a period of paddy harvesting, but large numbers of villagers found the time to bring their dogs to the clinics conducted by the Embark team. “We were blessed with sunny weather on this rotation and every community we worked with supported the project by bringing their dogs as well by helping the catching teams to catch difficult dogs,” said Dr. Subash Dhananjaya Karunaratne, the head veterinary surgeon for the project.


One of the most noteworthy learnings was how important dogs are to communities in the Sigiriya area. Embark also commended the Air Force camp for the support it extended to the project, especially because the camp area encompasses difficult terrain for catching free roaming dogs.


Embark Founder Otara Gunewardene said the success of the project gives Embark particular satisfaction, given the historical and archaeological significance of Sigiriya as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Sigiriya is considered one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning, and we are happy to help this compassionate community that cares about animals but lacks the proper veterinary care to do so,” she said. “The project received immense encouragement from tourists from around the world who identified themselves with the Embark philosophy of making a sustainable change in the way people perceive and treat street dogs.”


Embark has conducted similar projects in many parts of Sri Lanka, including in Jaffna, where the third phase of an Animal Protection Project was completed earlier this year. The fourth phase of the Jaffna Animal Protection Project is now underway.



Embark, the fashion brand that promotes passion for community animals, has relocated its retail space within Odel’s flagship store at Alexandra Place, to better serve its ‘pashionable’ customers and fans. The Embark section at the Atrium Lobby of the store is now located near the store’s Ward Place entrance, near the gift-wrap counter. Vibrant new visuals give the relocated Embark section a colourful, bold and youthful character that is representative of the brand’s personality. The all-new Embark section displays the full range of quirky and stylish Embark products in the men’s, women’s and children’s clothing categories as well as accessories, ‘back to school’ items, souvenirs, ornaments, soft toys, and doggy products. The section has its own dedicated trial room and cashier, making shopping even more convenient. Here the relocated Embark section at Odel Alexandra Place.


What better Christmas gift to have than an adorable puppy in your Christmas stocking this Christmas?  That’s exactly what happened at Odel on 22 December, when Odel’s celebrity pooch, Niko hosted Christmas with Niko to coincide with Christmas Adoption Day, giving pooch lovers a day of seasonal cheer, fun and excitement, with a chance to Adopt-a-Pooch as part of the festivities. The flagship store at Alexandra Place was agog with many seasonal shoppers, most of who were doggy-lovers and quite enjoyed staying on to participate in the numerous events that took place throughout the afternoon. This December’s Adoption Day heralded the launch of The Love Shop, aimed at encouraging the gift of a puppy this Christmas. Extremely successful, The Love Shop saw a record number of street puppies being taken for adoption, either as gifts or by families who genuinely would love to have a dog in their home. The afternoon was festive, enjoyable and fun. Face painting tended to be extremely popular as was the unique doggy lick, where visitors gave Niko’s ceramic figurine, ‘a lick’ of paint or maybe even many licks. Canine owners who simply cannot be away from their own pets could create personalised calendars featuring dog-owners and their pooches, truly symbolic of a ‘Giving Season’.




Embark’s latest star Rozzy, rescued from Rosmead Place and the third street puppy to be adopted by Otara, has inspired a new clothing and accessories collection. Stylish in her own right, Rozzy displays some of the characteristics of a contemporary ‘Marilyn Monroe’ – she is confident, fashion conscious and just a little bit of a diva, but a queen of hearts too. Launched recently at Embark’s colourful ‘Street Pooch Pawty,’ the Rozzy Collection is a line of trendy clothing and accessories for Women, Men and Kids that is fun, colourful and in keeping with Embark’s core message of helping street dogs in Sri Lanka. The Rozzy Collection is distinctive from any of Embark’s previous collections as it comprises of expressive easy-wear silhouettes and cuts, oversized armholes, cheeky necklines, hints of lace and sheer fabrics coupled with punchy neon hues of pink, purple, blue and orange. Additional features include graphically expressive clothing for Kids and moisture-managed fabric and knits for the sports enthusiast. New accessories from the Rozzy Collection include cushions, bottles, motorised soft toys, notebooks, iPhone covers, jewellery and much more in a range of eye-popping hues, along with new colours and designs for existing products such as the iconic Embark Wristband. “The collection is comprehensive and caters to young, trendy, active and expressive adults and customers who look for subtlety with small and sophisticated embellishments,” said Thilina Dassanayake, Odel’s Divisional Merchandising Manager who heads the Embark merchandise team. “The embark customer is stylish and has a passion for the brand and its cause. Most importantly, the products are made with 100% doggie love just for these ‘pashionable’ people.” The Rozzy Collection is now on sale at the Embark departments at all Odel stores, and at the Odel Luv SL stores at Queens Hotel Kandy and Dutch Hospital in Colombo.




Former street dogs and the ‘Pashionable People’ who have given them homes are to have their day in the limelight when Odel’s community animal welfare programme Embark provides them an opportunity to strut their stuff next month.

A fashion show, dog show, dog grooming and doggy art are only some of the colourful events planned for Sunday 21st July at the CH&FC Grounds in Colombo, a day dedicated to the people whose passion for the cause of Embark has resulted in the adoption street dogs becoming quite the fashion in Sri Lanka.

As a first step, Odel has once again invited happy owners of dogs rescued off the streets to participate in an owner-pooch photo competition by sending in photographs of themselves with their adopted doggy companions. This ‘Be a Pashionable Person’ competition is currently open for participation and will run till 27th June, after which nine winners will be selected for a communications campaign with the message that owning a street dog is fashionable, and the right thing to do.  Entries for the competition should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The event that will take place on 21st July is open to anyone that has adopted a street dog. Prior registration is required to bring in dogs to this event.  Registration can be done by calling 077 22 40044 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The event will be open to public viewing at the CH&FC grounds, for those who come in without dogs.

Activities planned for the 2pm – 6pm event include a fashion show; dog portraits and caricatures by professional artists who will draw the owners and their dogs; dog grooming at special rates; an activity to bring out the artist in the dogs and their owners and a dog show designed to enable the abilities of street pooches to be demonstrated in categories such as costumes, obedience, tricks and games.

For further information about the ‘Pashionable People’ campaign, please contact 077 22 40044 or write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Aspiring rock stars have been invited head on over to ODEL where Niko, the famous street dog turned fashion mascot is reportedly rocking his good looks with a new collection that can transform one to a star, overnight. Capturing the current trends of the global fashion scene, the new collection is said to be inspired by Niko’s rock star attitude. With his erstwhile sidekick Bandit, Niko works the look, and offers a collection of rock star couture that is apt for everyone.

“If you’ve got attitude then all you need is a little style inspiration from the “Niko Rocks” collection that imbibes the rock-based styles seen on international fashion ramps,” says Thilina Dassanayake, ODEL’s Divisional Merchandising Manager who heads the Embark merchandise team. “The collection is distinctive. We have used a lot of colour to demand attention to the wearer and have played with the international rock star looks, like the grunged look for example. Acid washes and gothic fonts dominate this look, and have been given innovative twists to suit our Sri Lankan consumers.”


A collection suited for Embark fans of all ages, ‘Niko Rocks’ is now available at all Odel-stores;  comprising over 160 individual styles of T-shirts, tank tops, lounge wear, boxer and boyfriend shorts, and accessories accented by neon colors; for the rock star dude, diva and even those mini rock stars in the making.  

Odel has been acknowledged for 'Outstanding Contribution by a Corporation' to the welfare of community animals through its Embark initiative, at the Animals Asia Welfare Awards 2011.These awards, also known as 'The Andrews' in memory of Andrew, the first bear to arrive at the Animals Asia Rescue Centre in Chengdu, China, in October 2000, recognise the passionate efforts of organisations and individuals committed to the welfare of animals.

A total of nine awards were presented in Chengdu at the 'Asia for Animals Conference 2011' to individuals and organisations nominated by delegates who attended the conference. ODEL was the only corporate entity recognised at the event. The conference was held under the theme 'Out of the Box - bringing animal cruelty to an end.'

Presenting the award, Animals Asia commended ODEL for successfully persuading people to reduce cruelty to animals and focus on animal welfare through the Embark Corporate Responsibility initiative.

A statement by the organization said, "Project Embark has been a good partner and supporter to key Sri Lankan animal welfare NGOs and with its high profile, backed by the respected ODEL name, has raised awareness about animal welfare issues in Sri Lanka, especially in the media."

"It is a great honour for Embark to be recognized at an international forum which acknowledges passionate contributions of individuals and organisations committed to the welfare of animals," said Embark Business Operations Head Ashani Unamboowe.




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