Nepali chic

4 min read
03 Feb 2018
4 min read
1378 words
Biz Wiz
Pradeep Man Shakya talks to Samrat Singh Silwal about how Juju has been able to create great goodwill for itself and how it differentiates itself in the market by promoting Nepali art and culture through its clothing line.

Juju Wears is a Nepali brand that produces a wide selection of apparels that feature prints inspired by Nepali culture and heritage. Since 2013, the company has managed to establish itself as a leading garment brand, and has become a preferred name among the youth, who have been won over by the distinct and creative designs of its prints.

Pradeep Man Shakya is the founder and proprietor of Shraman Apparels, which owns Juju Wears, as well as Karuna Natural Wears, another popular garment brand. A graduate of Fine Arts from Lalit Kala Campus, Shakya
oversees the overall management of Juju and is heavily involved with
creating the designs.
In this Biz Wiz interview, Shakya talks to Samrat Singh Silwal about how Juju has been able to create great goodwill for itself and how it differentiates itself in the market by promoting Nepali art and culture through its clothing line.

The initial phase

Our first brand, Karuna Natural Wears, had already become a well-established brand when we decided to start Juju Wears. Karuna’s products were well recognised but the prices of its products were quite high, and they targeted only a niche market. We felt that we were missing out on catering to a wider audience, especially young consumers. We felt there was a need in the market for high-quality clothing sold at reasonable prices, and so we came up with Juju Wears. We decided to make products made with 100 per cent cotton, which enabled us to reduce our costs and lower the prices for consumers.

Along with producing a reasonably priced product, we wanted to create a product that would resonate with the youth and rekindle their interest in our rich cultural values. So we came up with the idea of printing specific designs on our clothing items—designs both reflective of our culture and inflected with some modern sensibilities. The reason we went for such prints was to encourage people to see that it’s perfectly acceptable to wear t-shirts with Nepali motifs—instead of wanting to wear t-shirts that imitated Western designs just because they seemed trendy. Through our t-shirts, we wanted people to free themselves of this notion that we are inferior to the people from the West; we wanted them to feel proud of being a Nepali.

Some of the hiccups

One problem we still face today is that consumers do not follow
the specified guidelines when it comes to ensuring the longevity of the clothing, and complain of the clothing’s shortcomings to do with quality. For example, since Juju t-shirts are made up of 100 per cent cotton, they cannot
be washed with strong detergents or be dried under direct sunlight for long periods of time. However, it is difficult to make most consumers understand that they cannot take the same measures to clean Juju’s products the way
they do other brands that are available in the market.

Changes in the industry over the years

The Nepali garment industry collapsed a little more than 12 years ago. At the time, the industry was unable to compete with garment manufacturers in other countries who were offering garments at much lower prices. This was due to their ability to mass produce their products in a relatively short period—something that Nepali manufacturers were ill-equipped to do at the time.

However, there has been a steady growth of the industry over the past few years, with numerous companies popping up all over Nepal that are now able to compete with companies abroad. And we believe that this increasing competition in the market is a sign that the future is bright for the industry here.

Juju’s marketing strategies

In this day and age, where social media has become a central part of most people’s lives, it is vital for any company to be engaged with digital promotion and marketing. That’s why we too make use of various social media platforms to stay in touch with our customers and keep them updated about our company and products. And since our target market consists of the younger population, who are avid users of social media, we know that we can easily reach them through this platform.
Word of mouth referrals have also helped boost sales, and market our products. Kathmandu is a small city, and positive reviews of our products can easily circulate among people. The recommendations from our satisfied customers have helped our brand grow and helped us establish a strong customer base.

Coming up with new designs

We have a set of talented artists who begin working on the imprinting process once we have conceptualised and finalised the designs. While conceptualising our designs, we ensure that they carry social and cultural aesthetics, while staying relevant to modern trends. It usually takes about two days for us to come with the designs, but there have been a few cases where it has taken us two years or more to come up with a design with which we were all satisfied. One of our popular designs features the image of a biker taking in the view of Mount Machhapuchhre. The design took us almost three years to produce. And to little surprise, it was an instant hit in the market.

Growing popularity of Juju amongst Nepalis living abroad

Today, Nepalis living abroad have become aware of the standard of quality of Nepali garment manufacturers. They are proud to wear t-shirts that highlight our culture; these t-shirts have become reminders of home for people living in foreign countries, and have an emotional value for them. We have received numerous orders all the way from countries like the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and other places where there is a significant residential Nepali population.

Time for the government to step in

Our government must take steps to create a garment-processing zone. This will be a major benefit for this industry as this zone can help in significantly reducing the cost of production, which will in turn increase the Nepal-made products’ prospects in the international market. To be sure, the government has started the construction of a garment-processing zone, worth Rs 2.5 billion, in Simara, but it will start operations only in a couple of years. The sooner this process is put in motion the better.

Plans for the future

We have already set up a showroom in Pokhara, and we plan on increasing the number of our outlets; however, we don’t want to rush it. We are also coming up with a new brand called Tara, which will be available at a lower price range than Juju Wears. We have plans to eventually move to mass production.