KATHMANDU: Sisters, Anuja Shrestha and Alpaza Rajbhandari, who share a love of fashion and tradition, decided to merge these two values along with their business acumen. This led to the establishment of Ekadeshma — a store of natural fibre clothing and hand-crafted gift items — in Thamel on 2011.
As the name Ekadeshma — Once upon a time — suggests, the store reflects tales of Nepali craft, customs and culture, which has helped create a niche for itself in the market within a year of its opening. “Earlier, we were unsure about customers accepting our products, but our effort to offer something novel and unique paid off well,” says Shrestha, who is managing director and co-owner of the store.
“Ekadeshma’s idea of design is rooted in culture and age-old skills, with a touch of modern logic. The name itself has huge significance, as it transports us back to childhood memories. Customers figure out the essence of the products by the name,” says Rajbhandari, designer and co-owner of the store, adding that through their products one can feel the art that speaks and the craft that tells stories. The store was opened with an initial investment of Rs 400,000, and Shrestha informs that they have been enjoying overwhelming sales. The store displays tees for both males and females printed with Saraswoti, Jyapu, Buddha, and emblems of Nepal, to name a few. According to Rajbhandari, their Saraswoti prints have been attracting the most eyeballs.
Besides tees, customers can also shop for hand woven tops, exclusive handicraft products and ceramic accessories. The accessories are either hand-picked or customised. “For accessories, we have tied up with fresh and upcoming designers,” says Shrestha. Their tees are made of cotton and hemp, which are imported from India and China respectively and are dyed, stitched and printed in the country. To keep up with its theme of nature, the store displays selected products in an innovative manner, besides handing out its products in handmade newspaper bags. “We are yet to bring several of our ideas to fruition,” informs Rajbhandari, adding that they are soon going to experiment with bamboo products. The store is planning to launch new varieties of tees, shirts, tops and dresses, among others. The price range
for products at Ekadeshma ranges from Rs 750 to Rs 1,250 for male attire and Rs 680 to Rs 1,100 for female clothing.
According to Shrestha, their customers are mostly walk-in customers, of which, 70 per cent are tourists. The duo thinks that they are engaged in healthy competition with similar stores in the valley, as they all have their own signature designs. “It’s an
ordeal to gain consumer confidence on branded Nepali products,” says Shrestha, adding that it is difficult to uproot the preconceived
notion that products made in Nepal are targeted only at foreigners. The duo considers dedication, mutual understanding and enthusiasm to introduce unique products as prerequisites for success of any venture. “We are working hard and reaping good returns even in the uncertain political situation and never-ending shortages in the country. We can pull in much more business if the situation
improves,” says Rajbhandari.