Mohammed Ibrahim and Qazi Sayed launched Turramqo, a jewelry brand, around 16 years ago. As Tibetan Muslims their main objective behind starting Turramqo was to bring a little bit of their own culture into their business venture. The two friends started out by making jewelry inspired by traditional Tibetan designs and are still doing the same thing and going strong even after all these years.
Explaining the story behind the brand, Shazia Ibrahim, who is the social media administrator of Turramqo and Mohammed’s daughter, says that back when Mohammed and Qazi were preparing to start working on Turramqo, many other people in their community also pursued the same line of business. But because Qazi, who grew up in Kashmir (India), was pretty good at designing traditional Tibetan ornaments, the two friends came to the conclusion that they would be better off sticking to this line of work even though many others were doing it.
“Turramqo is kind of like a family business for us. It’s not a very big company and there aren’t many people involved in the brand,” says Shazia listing herself, Mohammed, Qazi, and their crafters as the only people working to run Turramqo. She further reveals that all the work including the designing, production, and marketing of their products is done by the people they have in their small team.
Currently, the design factory of Turramqo is located in Naya Bazar in Kathmandu and their only functional physical outlet is situated in Thamel. Besides selling their products at this outlet, Shazia mentions that Mohammed has also been visiting huge fairs in Italy to sell Turramqo products in bulk around three to four times every year, for the past decade or so. The Turramqo team has also recently launched their website and started social media pages to make their products more accessible to customers. But Shazia reveals that because not many people shop online in Nepal, they actually don’t sell that many pieces of jewelry through social media and their websites.
Talking about the raw materials they use for their designs and production, Shazia claims that almost everything they use is either from Nepal, Tibet, or Italy. She states that because every single one of their pieces is handcrafted, all of Turramqo’s products look different from one another even when they are molded as the same design. “The stones we use are also natural so all of them come with different patterns and quirks of their own and that makes each piece unique,” she says.
When asked what is the one thing she would say she learned while working on Turramqo, Shazia says that it would definitely be the importance and influence of China in our country’s economy. She reveals that after experiencing and understanding first hand the role Chinese tourists play in sustaining almost every single line of work in the tourism industry, she believes that it’s fundamental that everyone who is involved in this industry learn the language. “Their influence is especially prominent in a business like ours as the value and price of stones and gems increase or decrease based on their interest (or lack thereof) in those jewels,” reveals Shazia.
However, according to her, the Turramqo team is pretty content with the way their business is operating as well as their sales as of now. She claims that they don’t really have any plans of expanding, adding, or making any drastic changes to their brand. But she reveals that there is one thing the whole Turramqo team wants to develop in regards to their brand and that is their online presence. Even though they don’t sell a lot online, Shazia states that, as the social media administrator of the company, she has been constantly putting in time and effort in the promotion of Turramqo’s social media pages and website. “I’m hoping it will pay off in the long run,” she concludes.