“Locally-made products deserve more attention”

- Timothy Aryal

Jan 14, 2019-

The role of social media in providing a platform for budding entrepreneurs can hardly be overstated. In the past couple of years, the use of social media to promote business, especially by aspiring youths looking to set out on their entrepreneurial world, has seen phenomenal growth. You just need to have a product on hand and for sale, and you don’t have to worry about advertising it to your potential customers. But for some who want to expand their reach, this is not quite enough. This is where The Local Project comes in. Once in a while young people who make their own products—and very good ones at that—but don’t know how to put their products out there visit The Local Project for shelf space. Co-founded by Binam Shakya, the Jhamsikhel-based company, as its name implies, showcases these locally-made products, ranging from accessories to clothing. The Project currently operates out of two stores—in Jhamsikhel and Le Sherpa in Panipokhari. The Post’s Timothy Aryal caught up with Shakya to learn more about the company, the kinds of projects it showcases and supports entrepreneurship in the country. Excerpts:

What is The Local Project Nepal about? How does it function?

Well, it’s a simple ‘concept store’—established as a platform for Nepali brands to put their products out there. While some Nepali brands are doing really well, both in terms of quality and market outreach, there are many that are struggling to put their products on the market owing to the lack of a store and advertisement facilities. Our aim is to help them as a mediator to get their product out in the market. What we basically do is, we commission products from a wide variety of Nepali brands and put these products in our store. This is to give customers a wide variety to choose from and also to promote local Made-in-Nepal brands. We have small, separate rooms for each brand.

How did the concept come about to you?

It started off with a coffee talk among us friends. Back in 2016, I had returned from a study stint in Australia and was trying to figure out what to do. Being the son of a businessman, I was sure I would do business so I majored in marketing. Initially, I thought I’d do a job but I couldn’t find one that satisfied me. Then, I took a gap for nine months and toured across Nepal. Back in the Capital, I caught up with my business partner Sachin [Shrestha] and Prakesh Shrestha, the founder of Evoke Café, and decided to utilise one of the café’s spaces to start this project. As beginners, we had this simple goal to promote and encourage local entrepreneurs who make authentic products that the world needs to know about.

What kind of products do you have in store currently?

The products range from small gift items like cards and key rings and bags to home décor and furniture. They can be just about anything, but they must be made in Nepal.

Why only ‘Made in Nepal’ products in today’s globalised world?

The last couple of years have seen a remarkable rise of Nepali brands. They are making excellent products, are increasing their market outreach and hence, are creating more job opportunities. I come from a business household myself and I am aware of the quality of the goods we produce. This is our attempt to promote our products among Nepalis and foreigners too, and gradually to take it out into the

globalised world. Nepal has many authentic products that deserve more attention and we cash in on that.

What is your customer base like?

One of the reasons we have stores in cafés and hotels like Le Sherpa is to focus on expats Nepalis and foreigners. Because Jhamsikhel and Lazimpat areas are both known for the footfalls of foreigners, we have stores there. But we are not limited to just that, we also receive a significant number of Nepalis looking to buy good products, of course.

How is the business doing currently?

It’s going well. We started off with a single store and now we have expanded to two. And the flow of customers is steady as well. We started off selling products by just six brands and now we have expanded to around 40 brands, which I reckon is pretty good in terms of market outreach.

What are the challenges you’ve faced so far?

Since most companies we commission products from are still just starting up, sometimes they can’t supply the products on time and hence, we have to run with their allocated spaces empty. Also, ours is a small team and we don’t take a day off. But since it’s going well, we are pretty satisfied with what we’ve been doing.

What next for The Local Project?

We are trying to expand, first in Nepal and then gradually in the global

market. We recently reached an agreement with a Dutch brand to sell our products in the Netherlands. We plan to open more stores inside the Valley first and then expand to Pokhara and other cities in Nepal. To date, we have been selling only from our local outlets, but we plan to go online as that’s where the world is these days.

Published: 14-01-2019 08:45

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