June 2, 2017 12:32 PM NPT
It isn’t a surprise that yet another store in the popular lanes of Jhamsikhel is creating quite a buzz. It’s just that only this time around the thing getting attention isn’t a food oriented business or some fancy imported clothing line, it’s all uniquely Nepali. We have sensed a surge of creative and entrepreneurial spirit among various local designers, artists and craftsmen, so it’s about time somebody provided them a proper platform. The Week talks to Anouk Tamrakar, co-owner of Timro Concept Store about their initiative and the stellar start they have had so far.
“This ‘Made in Nepal’ is a movement.”
Ressa Living, Hatti Hatti, Allaré, Little Things, Tissah, Bhav, Muskan, Beyond the Bee, and Ekadeshma all share a common ground. To begin with, they are all Nepali brands and they all have a niche following of their own. Together they cover a large range of diverse products from stationery, accessories, leather bags, clothes, interior décor to handicrafts and then some more. Timro Concept Store has them all proudly displayed. And according to Anouk, they are all steadily flying off the shelves.
“This ‘Made in Nepal’ is a movement,” she says. As a regular at the Art Market and Farmer’s Market, she seems to be well acquainted with the trend as well as people associated with the development.
“But then again, the circle could only reach a niche crowd,” she continues, “One would wonder why they didn’t attempt to expand their circle but in Nepal, these kinds of brands have many challenges.” The proprietors of most of these brands literally need to manage everything from production, design, sales, marketing to sometimes even contributing the necessary funds.
So Timro Concept Store was basically opened in a bid to help these creative entrepreneurs. When Anouk and her two business partners initially pitched the idea of the store around this network of people, they were all in. As she puts it, “Everybody was ready to start something like this.”
“Rather than suspicion, I sense pride.”
Those who have been boxing Nepali products and handicrafts as trinkets found in Thamel and Basantapur, Timro Concept Store will definitely prove to be quite a surprise. It is also common knowledge that most Nepalis doubt the quality of our own locally produced goods so in such a climate of general doubt, how have the sales been faring?
Anouk has some insights to offer, “I feel the younger generation is more in tuned with the good work that young Nepali designers, artists, craftsmen and entrepreneurs are coming out with. Social media obviously plays a big role in this level of awareness. We do have customers who have been slightly surprised by the quality and variety of products but rather than suspicion, I usually sense pride in them.”
The clientele at Timro Concept Store apparently tend to be both Nepalis and foreigners and they both seem keen to support the efforts of local artisans.
The logistics of recruiting the brands
Anouk shares that they have been carefully choosing the brands that they are currently featuring at their store. Factors like where and how the products are made, and who designed them are all equally important. While initially they had to approach the brands themselves, now she shares that many brands have been reaching out to them instead.
This is partly because in the two months since their opening, the store is already proving to be an effective platform for building networks and gaining exposure for these Nepali brands.
For instance, brands like Studio Sarcastic who have a massive fan following online but don’t have a market yet are using the store’s reach to forward their business. Anouk shares they have been recently acquainted and from collaborations to logistical issues like hooking them up with more convenient printers, they have been helping out Sneha Koirala from Studio Sarcastic. Likewise, not so long ago, there has been interest from American clients for Muskan’s range of clothes. They have been discussing ideas for a new line of designs and colors with Timro Concept Store to increase their appeal.