A lot of startups these days create their customer base initially through social media. A new kind of startup that has been coming up in the past year and is based primarily on their social media influence is those selling small designs and products that you can add to things and clothing items you already own.
Annie Shrestha, founder of the online (Instagram) frame shop Frame It, reveals that she has been getting tons of orders for customized stickers since the launch of Frame It back in June 2018. So, she decided to open up a sister Instagram account dedicated primarily to stickers called Stick it in October last year. Shrestha is a recent BBA graduate and reveals that since she didn’t want to work under someone else at some random big company, she decided to start her own business selling things that she thinks isn’t commonly available in Nepal.
On both of her accounts, Shrestha takes customized orders from her customers, develops the designs according to their requests, confirms the final design with the customers and then gets it printed and delivered to them. Although she started out by selling stickers and frames in designs that she personally liked, she quickly realized that most, if not all, of her customers wanted unique pieces and weren’t very interested in pre-produced designs.
“Sometimes even when they like a certain design I put up on my account, they would ask me to add a letter or a message or something similar to it and all of my pre-produced designs would just stack up in my own room,” she says adding that she has stopped doing this now though and that both her accounts are about delivering customized designs.
According to Shrestha, delivery is the only thing she is struggling with – when it comes to the operations of Frame It and Stick It – at the moment. She says that because she’s running both of these accounts on her own, delivering these products at destinations that are far from where she lives (in New Baneshwor) is difficult for her. “And I can’t take up an expensive delivery service for it either because I can’t afford its charges just through what I earn from Stick It and Frame It,” she says.
Even though she isn’t making much profit from Stick It and Frame It, Shrestha reveals that operating both these businesses has been a good learning experience for her. She reveals that she’s figuring out her own capacity and working methods through it and that she’s learning new things about herself every single day. She also states that because she actually enjoys doing this, it doesn’t even feel like work. As for the future, Shrestha reveals that she wants to steer her main account (@frame.it.1996) towards selling home and art decor products while still continuing to sell all the things (including frames and stickers) that she provides through her Instagram accounts right now.
For Mrigaja Bajracharya, The Estickat Shop is an outlet for her artistic side. She launched it about a month ago – in December 2018 – and claims that she also sees this shop as a way to get her own art out onto the world in a very effective and easy manner. Bajracharya, who graduated from Kathmandu University School of Arts in 2015, is also a graphic designer at Image Ark and a freelancer. She reveals that even though she has a steady income because of her day job, opening up something of her own had been a dream she wanted to work on for a very long time.
“I’ve always liked the concept of stickers but I’ve realized that this form of art isn’t very popular or widely accepted in Nepal,” says Bajracharya mentioning that she sees stickers as an easy way to customize and personalize things. So to establish a go-to outlet for this genre of art and business, she decided to start her own brand that would work primarily to produce stickers in all shapes and sizes.
Besides printing stickers that she designs herself, Bajracharya mentions that she is also trying to collect art and designs from other local artists of Nepal and turn them into stickers. She claims that this will be a good way for them to get exposure and support one another to succeed in the same industry. She reveals that whenever she wants to create new designs, she surfs the internet and goes through various works by her favorite Nepali and international artists and something or the other always catches her eye.
After she decides on a design, Bajracharya takes a print of it and approaches a company that turns it into a sticker and then uploads the pictures of those designs on The Estickat Shop’s Instagram account (@estickat_shop). She reveals that she also takes custom orders from her customers. She believes that a lot of people choose to order stickers through her instead of getting them printed themselves because it costs them less that way. Bajracharya prints stickers in bulk and that costs less than printing one or two stickers. “And that is why I’m able to sell stickers at a low price,” she says.
The biggest challenge Bajracharya has been facing since she launched The Estickat Shop is managing the logistics and the social media of the company. She states that she had never done any of that before and that managing those fronts has been hard for her. It’s something she is still working on mastering.
Adding embroidery to a plain clothing item will instantly upgrade your basic clothes. But in Nepal, finding a store that will do just this without messing up our designs and in an affordable price is next to impossible. But that is where Needle & Thread comes in. This is how you can get cool embroidery designs on plain clothing items and that too at affordable prices.
Needle & Thread was launched in early 2018 by Piyush Lama and it is Lama who runs the business all by himself today. Lama, who previously worked in the tourism industry, reveals that he left his job as a travel guide about a year ago to launch Needle & Thread because he felt his life was becoming a bit too stagnant. As he was researching for a type of business that he would enjoy delving into, he came up with the idea of a clothing brand that would embroider custom designs on clothes. Because he is into fashion himself and it’s a booming industry in the current context of our country, he decided to dabble into this business and, so far, he hasn’t regretted his decision.
In his own way, Lama is doing all that he can to support other local Nepali manufacturers and crafters through his own business venture. He reveals that all the sweatshirts, t-shirts, and hoodies used by Needle & Thread are from Nepali brands and that the actual embroidery part of his products is done by local crafters who receive a fair percentage out of the profit earned by selling Needle & Thread products. But he states that there have been some complaints from customers regarding the quality of the fabrics of the products produced in Nepal. He further mentions that, sometime in the future, he wants to try producing garments of good quality in Nepal.
Besides selling the products through Needle & Thread’s own Instagram account (@needleandthrea.ktm), Lama mentions that the products are also displayed at Maya Ko Chino in Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur, and that he constantly participates in markets and fairs to spread the word about his company. However, Lama says that he is disheartened by the short cut to riches and success mentality of people. “When people see someone launching a new concept, there is a mad scramble of sorts to duplicate that,” he explains adding that sometimes people even go as far as stealing the name of the company. “The way I am trying to differentiate myself from the rest as the instigator of this style of business is by maintaining the quality of the products I sell,” he concludes.