A healthy dose of sarcasm

Published On: February 3, 2017 11:55 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Every conversation Sneha Koirala has had since she was a little girl has inspired her to doodle. She would draw a tiff she had with her parents, things she discussed with her friends and found that, though she grew up, she couldn’t stop drawing things. It was one of these drawings she did for The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that gave birth to Studio Sarcastic. The Week caught up with her to get her talking about her creations. 

The initial phase
An online store, Studio Sarcastic began roughly two and a half months ago. She had made a poster for a friend for the newly released The Fantastic Beasts movie when members of ‘Potterheads Nepal’ (a group of Harry Potter fans) saw it and placed a lot of orders. “One of the girls in this group encouraged me to open an Instagram account and everything took off from there,” she says.
In the few months that she has been around, she already has more than 800 followers on Instagram and more than a thousand likes on Facebook. “The response I have received from people is really overwhelming but I try not to think about that. I’m still in the beginning stages and I want to take baby steps,” she says. The name came from her tendency to have the most sarcastic replies to almost everything. Her products are now available online on Instagram and Facebook (@studiosarcastic). 

Her inspiration(s)
“Everything around me inspires me. I’m having a conversation with you right now and something in it could spark a drawing. I don’t have a specific source of inspiration,” she reveals. She has a tendency of zoning out many times during the day and finds that both her feet aren’t planted in the world of reality.

Chalking it off as a quirk of being creative, this is where most of the ideas come to her. Once she has an idea, she thinks about it for about fifteen minutes before finally starting to draw. It takes her about two to three hours at night to finish the drawing. She does all her doodles after her day job and finds that 24 hours in a day just aren’t enough for her. Although she initially used paper to draw on, all her creations these days come to life on her iPad pro. 

Ever since she started out, she has found herself keeping close tabs on the Indian company Chumbak. The way they have grown so exponentially in less than a decade really inspires her. She thinks that though there are so many things to be done in Nepal, people haven’t been able to leave a big enough mark. She recalls watching a Buzzfeed video, where a title that clearly said Indian items had included a product made in Lukla with a Nepali flag on it. “I really didn’t like that and I felt like we haven’t had enough of an impact for people to pay attention to us,” she says. 

With her brand, she wants people to get in touch with who they are and doesn’t want to lose the ‘Nepalipan’. There are a lot of Nepali ideas and words incorporated in her products precisely for this reason. “All the characters are based on Nepali people. I’m trying, with my doodles, to start letting people know that it is okay to humor themselves every once in a while, that you don’t have to be conscious about your body so much, that things are great, and that you should learn to love yourself,” she says. 

Branching out
She started out with cards and posters and has ventured into notebooks, bookmarks, mugs and calendars. All the branching out she has done, has been brought about by much prodding by her friends, colleagues or family. When she makes something, she tests it out on them and if their reaction is good, she then posts it online and makes it available commercially. Likewise, if they see a niche in the market that she can fill, they will tell her to make products like that. “Seeing we are so willing to spend a lot on a mug from Archies or Hallmark, I wanted to make something that was cheaper and more relatable than the commercially available mugs there,” she says. 

She calls herself a stationery hoarder and says that her love for cute notebooks is unparalleled. She was doodling one day and decided to make a notebook cover for herself, and the people at her office loved it. They wanted the custom made notebooks as well. When they got theirs, they talked to their friends and word got around. That is how the notebooks began and it is now one of her bestsellers.

“I think people buy a lot of my notebooks because everyone wants to stand out and everyone wants to use a customized notebook that makes them happy when they look at it,” she explains.  

The challenges  
Sneha reveals that not everything gets done in the same place, which makes it a little difficult to produce things cheaply in the country. There are three stages to put the notebook together – the design is made by her that then goes to the printer, the notebooks are then taken to another vendor to cut and another still to bind. If there were a single place where everything could be taken care of, the cost would drastically decrease as, at the moment, different vendors quote different prices. This would also make the products cheaper for her customers. “I’m still working to fix all the little kinks, and am ready to take on the challenges that come my way,” she says.

(As told to Isha Upadhyay)

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