It can be heartbreaking to wear a pair of new shoes in Kathmandu – especially in the current context where the roads are bad and the weather couldn’t be any less agreeable. You can’t take two steps without getting mud and dirt all over your clean shoes and you really can’t be bothered with cleaning your shoes every time it gets dirty – however expensive the shoes might be – knowing the same thing will happen the next time you wear them. Babin Gurung launched Khutta Ma Jutta – a sneakers’ laundry company – with the intention of helping people who don’t have the time (or the skills) to clean their shoes – more specifically sneakers – on their own.
Launched about three months ago, Khutta Ma Jutta is currently solely online based. Their customers approach them through their Instagram page as the company doesn’t have a physical outlet yet. Besides Gurung (who is the founder of the company), Yangzi Doka Sherpa and Sushmin Thapa Magar are the people who are working as a part of the Khutta Ma Jutta Team. Sherpa is the managing director and Thapa Magar is the assistant manager at Khutta Ma Jutta.
Learning to love sneakers
Gurung states that he has been a sneakerhead since his childhood. He clarifies that his love for sneakers – especially branded sneakers – started when he joined high school and that he started out with collecting the first copies of sneakers by famous brands as the original pairs were impossible to find at any store in Nepal at the time. He also mentions that it was his mother who bought all the pairs for him. Even though she didn’t fully understand why he needed these many shoes and even refused to buy him more pairs a couple of times, his enthusiasm for collecting them would usually win her over.
The first pair of original branded sneakers Gurung ever got his hands on were sent to him by a relative who lived abroad. He states that even though that might not sound like a big deal to anyone else, wearing these shoes made him really happy. “I’d only ever seen celebrities, mostly musicians, wearing these pristine shoes in their music videos. Seeing and wearing them myself made me want to collect more,” he says. Later on, two of his relatives who lived abroad also sent him sneakers whenever he asked them to so his collection of original sneakers started growing that way.
Gurung’s love for sneakers went beyond just wanting to collect them. Because he loves all of his sneakers a lot, he actually cleans them thoroughly after every wear and all of his sneakers – including ones that are more than a few years old – look new and untouched even though he wears them quite frequently. He follows many international pages and blogs created by sneakerheads and is constantly updating himself on all new sneaker related news and information.
It’s much easier for Gurung to access original sneakers as well as the supplies required to clean them right now. His fiancé and his family (his mother and siblings) live in the US so they send him sneakers and the cleaning supplies whenever he asks them to.
The start of Khutta Ma Jutta
Just when he had enrolled for his bachelor’s degree at King’s College, Gurung’s family moved to the US. Since he wasn’t interested in the subject he was studying to begin with and no one was there to keep him in check regarding his studies, Gurung started slacking off. Sherpa, who is also his fiancé, and is currently on the last semester of her bachelor’s at a university in Boston, stepped in to advise him to start something he enjoys and that’s how he got around to planning for the launch of Khutta Ma Jutta.
“At first I thought I should just start selling original sneakers. But my fiancé suggested I do something creative relating to sneakers since she believed I had enough skills to do something like that,” says Gurung adding that the two of them agreed he should start with a sneaker laundry service before expanding to other similar businesses as well.
How they work
As soon as they launched their account on Instagram, Khutta Ma Jutta took off. Gurung claims that their followers are very impressed with their work and concept and that they always have cleaning or restoration orders piled up. They have apparently worked on more than 300 pairs of sneakers till date and often have to request their customers to down size their orders (from seven to 10 pairs to about two to three pairs) for the time being.
Khutta Ma Jutta offers three major services: cleaning, restoration, and customization. Gurung claims that restoration is the most popular service right now. He has turned his own living space into their workstation and mentions that they aren’t planning to open a physical outlet anytime soon. Gurung and Thapa Magar are the ones who do everything from cleaning, restoring and customizing to picking up and delivering every single order.
In the future, Gurung plans on creating a community of sneakerheads through Khutta Ma Jutta. “If you look around the world, a lot of countries (and even cities) have their own circle of sneakerheads who have a firm presence on social media. I’ve realized that Nepal also has its fair share of sneakerheads and I want all of them to come together as one supportive community,” he concludes.