PHILIP JAMES BABER AND MEG ELIZABETH GAGE WILLIAMS
CO FOUNDERS & DIRECTORS, STICK NO BILLS®
When a business is birthed on the back of 20 vintage posters gathering dust in an airing cupboard one may sense there has been more than a dose of inspiration involved.
Philip and Meg had been visiting Sri Lanka separately before they met. Meg had worked on the island during the war in her former career as a security / counter-terrorist risk analyst and Philip is an avid surfer and survivor of the 2004 Tsunami here. So they weren’t strangers to Sri Lanka when in 2005 they met in the Middle East. Of her time in Sri Lanka in the late 90’s Meg recalls ‘I remember wandering around the Fort in 1999 and being blown away by the place’, she says, ‘the sheer heritage was overwhelming; cultural, architectural and archaeological ... I could see a renaissance was just around the corner and I wanted to be a part of it; to help promote this stunning island paradise to the world’.
Having married in Cornwall, England in 2008 the couple checked out of their corporate careers later that year (Meg resigning from her role as Senior Vice President role of a major security firm within which she ran the intel department, to found a more creative "and cheerful!" business with her husband) and, after an epic sojourn in Brazil they made the move to Galle where they started out managing a surf hotel frequented by champion surfers from all over the world owing to its prime location on a world class surf break. Philip found a proprietor who was looking to lease a shop space within the Fort and Stick No Bills was born.
The couple stress how well the various authorities have supported them in opening their business with low start up capital. ‘If you put the time and effort in to get your ducks in a row the support is there’ says Meg. A letter of reference from the ministry of national heritage supports this. It praises the couple for their ‘outstanding contribution towards the promotion of sustainable, culturally and historically sensitive trade and tourism in the Fort’. It also notes that