Cute little shops selling even cuter merchandise with interesting designs and patterns or witty one-liners have been cropping up all around Kathmandu in the last year or two. And just a little over a month ago, another one of these shops, Alchi, was launched in Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur. But you are mistaken if you think it’s just another concept store because unlike majority of the brands and shops that’s been coming up, Alchi’s primary target group is children.
A new member of the ‘Made In Nepal’ movement, Alchi is a creative commercial venture of Kazi Studios. Established almost eight years ago by Kreeti Shakya and Manish Shrestha, Kazi Studios is primarily a creative agency based in Kathmandu, Nepal and Minneapolis, USA. Both the founders had extensive knowledge of how such companies worked since they both worked at one when they were in the States. Shakya is a designer and Shrestha an interactive programmer. Today, Kazi Studios’ clientele list includes the likes of WWF, World Bank, UNICEF and Laavyana among others.
According to Anish Bajracharya, art director at Kazi Studios and the head organizer and director of Alchi, the Kazi Studios team already had a lot of designs and creative ideas – some of which they sold, time and again, at various art markets in Kathmandu. So, the team finally decided to bring all of these ideas to life and open up a store from where they could market these products on their own.
Alchi is one of the many names the Kazi Studios team came up with. They stuck with it because it provided that sense of a Nepali store that sells many pseudo merchandise and isn’t overtly Nepali or Western in its essence but is striking that perfect middle ground. Additionally, the world Alchi also attracts a lot of children because naming your store that is quite funny.
“What we are doing to differentiate ourselves from all the other store with a similar idea is making our products colorful. Usually most stores just stick with muted neutral colored merchandise but all of our products are very colorful,” says Bajracharya. One of these products is their new board game Samrajya, which is kind of like Snakes and Ladders but with a fun Nepali twist to it. Bajracharya reveals that this is a homage to all the 90s kids who have grown up playing a lot of board games.
At Alchi, you will also find an extension to Samrajya in the form of a deck of cards. This, Bajracharya says, is for adults who want to up their board game to become a drinking game.
The Alchi team at Kazi Studios is also looking for ideas to create other fun games similar to Samrajya besides coming up with more colorful knick-knacks. But, for now, something the Alchi team is currently waiting for is the official launch of the store. Even though the store has been up and running for a while, the official launch is set for sometime in late May or early June. After the launch, Alchi has more plans than being just an outlet for various Kazi Studios’ merchandises. They will be conducting workshops where people interested in creative fields can come together as well as do all they can to foster creativity.