November 15, 2019 09:35 AM NPT
By: URZA ACHARYA
There was a time when bags were all about utility. You got one or two, at the most, and used it to carry your stuff to school or college and then, as you got older, your sister’s fraying tote was what you shoved your necessities (wallet, tissue, lip balm) in when you were going out for brunch with friends on the weekend. Matching your bags to your clothes wasn’t something that crossed your mind. Bags weren’t about making a fashion statement. They were functional items. Not anymore.
Helping this case are many companies that are focused on making practical yet stylish bags for youths.
One such company is Epic Bags Nepal that started as a college project. The brainchild of Hrithik Babu Shrestha, Daulat Raj Shrestha, and Sahil Sen, Epic Bags Nepal that was launched in May 2019 already has more than 1500 customers all over the country today.
The trio met one another while studying BBA at Islington College. Their class was given a ‘Do a real business’ project that required students to start an actual business and make a report on its profit and loss. Hrithik, whose family owned a bag factory, decided to team up with Daulat and Sahil to start a bag business for their project.
At first, they decided to name the brand ‘Thunder’. They did a survey asking students whether they liked the name or not. “About 99 percent of people said they disliked the name so we had to think of something else,” says Hrithik.
The trio then sat down with their friends to come up with a better name for the brand. Someone finally recommended naming the brand ‘Epic’ and that sat well with everyone present in the brainstorming session. “And so we named the company Epic Bags Nepal adding ‘Nepal’ for that extra dose of uniqueness,” he adds.
As Epic Bags Nepal started out as a college project, they produced around 100 bags to sell within the college only. “Our target customers were students and faculty members at Islington College,” says Hrithik. They teamed up with a fellow multimedia student at the college, Bishakha Shakya, who went on to design the bags as well as the logo for the brand.
“We decided to keep the design minimalistic and stick to monochromatic colors,” says Hrithik. By doing so, they were able to provide a lot of space inside the bag. This was a priority, says Hrithik, as they felt space was a necessity for college students who have to carry laptops, books, and multiple notebooks with them. Keeping that in mind, they worked on maximizing storage space in all their bags.
The bags became a huge hit at their college. They were able to sell all 100 bags and then they had to make 50 more. Encouraged by the success of the bags at their college as well as the few orders they received, thanks to word-of-mouth, the trio opened an online store (on Facebook and Instagram) from where people outside their college could buy their bags. They also increased their inventory and added variety in their products.
As of now, Epic Bags Nepal sells fanny packs, tote bags, backpacks and combo bags (which are travel friendly). Moreover, they plan on introducing two new bag designs that go well with the Visit Nepal 2020 initiative.
According to Hrithik, their customers range from office workers, businessmen to SLC students. “Most of our bags are very economical, they probably fall under the least expensive bags that are made here in Nepal,” he claims. However, they have bags of different price ranges so that they can cater to both high-end customers as well as those on a budget.
Hrithik states that they take the quality of the bags that they sell very seriously. In their first batch of 100 bags, those that they sold at the college, some of the bags were unable to handle heavy weight due to faulty design. “The best thing about selling the bags to our friends first was that they didn’t hesitate to give us feedback to improve our product, which I believe has played a major role in our brand’s success,” he says adding that upon receiving a complaint the team would discuss it at great lengths and work on fixing it.
“We added extra hardened fabric and used better quality raw materials according to the demands of our customers, which initially consisted largely of our friends,” explains Hrithik. Also, complying with student’s demands, they added extra paddings on the shoulder straps to make the bags more comfortable to carry.
According to Hrithik, anyone wanting to start his/her own business and try something new should go for it because the joys of seeing your startup flourish is incomparable. However, he says, to ensure success you have to be ready to work hard, not be afraid to fail, and be willing to change and adapt. “The most important thing is to get your friends and family to try the products or services first and get their feedback on it. If your friends aren’t going to buy what you sell, no one is going to spend money on it,” he concludes.