Concept stores have, in the recent years, been quite popular among Kathmandu residents. These stores are where an array of different brands is displayed together, allowing you to compare and contrast items before making a purchase. It thus makes for a good place to stroll or scroll and shop. But Mijala Shakya feels that a lot of people think it’s just a ‘quirky’ space that sells ‘Made in Nepal’ items when it’s something so much more than that.
Shakya mentions that concept stores are outlets that sell carefully curated collections that are connected by a common and particular theme. And that is exactly what she has done with her online concept store Therapy that she and her sister launched about a year ago.
The two sisters, both of whom are big travelers according to Shakya, have been collecting vintage and thrifted accessories and clothing (more accessories than clothing) for years. They would pick up something whenever they traveled to other countries. Shakya says that whenever they would wear these things, their friends always wanted to get something similar and often lamented that they didn’t know where to go for them.
“It was after listening to these kinds of remarks from our friends that we realized that other people might also be interested in buying and collecting similar products. So, we decided to open an online outlet where we could sell some of our handpicked items,” says Shakya explaining the story behind the launch of Therapy.
The first collection released through Therapy consisted of accessories (mostly jewelries) and handbags. But because finding, thrifting and bringing back branded vintage handbags had been very troublesome the first time around, Shakya and her sister decided not to restock handbags in their future collections. However, they added vintage clothing in their third collection and their 2019 summer collection. For the time being though they have decided to focus on finding and selling just accessories.
Neither Shakya nor her sister expected their Instagram store to become so popular and so quickly for that matter. By the time Therapy was six months old, everything they had initially put out on display had been sold and if not they had been booked for sale.
Shakya says that the products they picked out for the store all had a similar vibe and aesthetics. They were minimal, dainty and were either made from gold or were gold plated. So, about six months ago they decided to create their own version of similar accessories and try to sell those unique pieces instead of store bought ones. They contracted a few workers who could craft the kind of products they wanted to make and started producing their own range of ‘Made in Nepal’ jewelry.
“While selling the products that we have created here, we were happy to find out that a lot of Nepalis these days support local businesses and buy local products,” says Shakya adding that because handmade jewelry are pricier than factory made ones, she and her sister were afraid that their customers would find them to be expensive. But their customers actually seemed to like these products just as well as the pieces Shakya brought from her travel expeditions. “In fact, it seemed that they preferred our designs a bit more,” she adds.
Right now, Therapy sells both vintage pieces handpicked by Shakya and her sister and handmade jewelry from their own line. Sticking true to the concept of a concept store, Therapy releases collections rather than individual products, one at a time. Their collections are mostly seasonal consisting only of about five to six items.
Therapy is a side hustle for both Shakya and her sister. They mention that they are running the store completely because of their passion to connect Nepalis with minimal and vintage jewelry that aren’t easily available in Nepal. The two sisters actually collect all of their earnings from Therapy in a separate bank account to use this savings to travel in the future. “These days, when we travel, we actually separate days just for finding new products to add to Therapy’s collection. If we’re traveling alone, we video chat with the other person to get their thoughts on products we aren’t fully sure about,” explains Shakya.
Although Shakya has been approached multiple times from collective stores and pop up shops that are willing to display and sell their products, she hasn’t agreed on anything yet because Therapy only has a few pieces available at all times. She mentions that in the future, if they start releasing bigger collection (with more items) or start producing more handmade jewelry, they will collaborate with other brands with similar concepts to set up a physical outlet. “But as of now, the online platform is the only place where customers can contact us,” concludes Shakya.