JAMA Nepal – From Instagram to Kathmandu’s leading apparel store

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JAMA Nepal – From Instagram to Kathmandu’s leading apparel store

Let’s rewind the fashion market half a decade ago: customers fed up of seeing the same items on display at clothing stores in Kathmandu while only few stores selling branded items and as such, finding a good quality piece was no less than an uphill task. Today, there are clothing stores providing quality and branded products at a price range from low to high-end all over Kathmandu.

As a fashionista with an eye for quality, Snehi Karmacharya, 23, found herself buying clothes from abroad for her close ones, and later, she decided to make them available for others as well. Starting out small, she has been able to take her venture JAMA Nepal from selling clothes on Instagram to putting up one of Kathmandu’s leading apparel store within a couple of years, all done organically. 

 

For the love of clothes

Feeling dejected after seeing repetitive low-quality clothes in the Nepali market back in 2012, Snehi worked to solve it. She would bring handpicked products through her relatives abroad to sell to her friends and relatives. Everyone loved the products since they were of superior quality available at reasonable prices. Word spread around and she received requests from people beyond her circle asking for quality clothing. Observing the market trend, her boyfriend Samyak Pakhrine, 24, motivated her to sell clothes online, and that led JAMA Nepal which started on Instagram (@jamanepal) in November, 2014.  

The root was instilled in her childhood. She shares a memory of a particular frock that Samyak she refers to as ‘Jama’: “My thulo daddy (her father’s brother) bought me this frock when I was about three years old and I used to wear it all the time. Every time I cried, wearing that frock would shut me up. It made me really happy. I shared this memory with him and my attachment to the piece of clothing led to the name JAMA Nepal.”

“The name triggers that feeling of confidence and happiness when you wear something you like,” says Samyak. “And every girl likes a nice frock,” smiles Snehi. 

 

Garbed in business boom

JAMA Nepal initially sold clothes brought from India and Hong Kong through their Instagram account and later added accessories including shoes, jewellery, and most recently, make-up products. 

Snehi did it for pocket money at first, but it has boomed to an established name in the apparel market. With over 6500 followers on Instagram, JAMA Nepal received an overwhelming response from customers. It was no longer feasible to handle the orders only through Instagram. They needed a physical store to chase the demand, and thus an outlet was opened in December 2015. It is located in Uttar Dhoka, Kathmandu and earns an average of Rs.2 lakhs worth of sales every month. 

 

Connecting the dots

The decision to open a physical store was a tough one. On one hand, their demand was rising, but on the other hand, the cost requirement to open a physical store was also challenging. They did not have enough funds to rent a space since they invested most of their profits on operations. It involved more risks as well. But the team decided to take the risk.

To gather required funds, JAMA Nepal took investments from the circle of friends and relatives who were its initial customers. “Our very first customers are now our investors. We used to sell the products to these people then, who are now abroad and have invested in the venture. Without them, putting up the store would not have been possible,” says Snehi.

They rented the space after the great earthquake and they had only started to design the space when the blockade hit. The political environment was not in their favour but their passion showed them the way. “There are times when you lose hope and you break down. But the passion can drive you. You can’t think of anything else apart from making it happen,” shares Samyak. 

Undergraduate students of architecture at Acme Engineering College, Snehi and Samyak used their knowledge of interior designing for the store. This eliminated the contractor overhead. They also involved themselves in fabrication and construction works to reduce further costs. Things steadily fell in place, and the store is presently operating with the interiors in finishing.

 

The tribe has her back

Juggling academics and business has been tough on Snehi. “It is difficult to balance and there’s the emotional turmoil. I am working on my academic degree at the moment and it’s tough. When I’m at the store, I think of my thesis all the time and when I’m working on my thesis, I think of the store. But the support from my family and the love from customers has been very encouraging,” she expresses. “Passion overrules the stress,” adds Samyak who has been managing time for the business despite studies and gigs with his local band. 

Snehi owns the business and her tribe has kept it running. Samyak has been her source of constant motivation and support. He looks after the marketing aspect of business and is currently involved in architectural freelancing for the store. Her brother Bivek Karmacharya and his girlfriend run the store when Snehi is at college.

Positive customer feedback has been Snehi and her tribe’s fuel in the journey. “People visit us asking if we’re the store that launched from operating on Instagram and we receive messages praising our efforts. It simply warms my heart to receive such appreciation as encouragement,” expresses Snehi.

 

Delivering quality

“There is a fad in Nepal for clothing stores. They open up when the business is booming and then shut down after some time of operation. But we are here to stay,” states Samyak.

JAMA Nepal’s primary goal has been providing quality products, and that has helped them retain and gain more customers. According to Snehi, opening the outlet has been an added advantage as customers can visit and try the products as per their convenience before purchase.

Some of the silent investors in Japan, UK, Hong Kong and the US work in apparel stores there. JAMA Nepal receives products from them during the seasonal sales and also takes custom pre-orders for products that customers want from abroad. They post pictures of the products received on the Instagram account and customers can pick up orders from the outlet. Orders from outside Kathmandu valley are delivered with extra charges for sale items. 

 

Sketching out the future

As for the future, Snehi plans to register JAMA Nepal in the coming fiscal year, introduce men’s wear and ethnic wear to the collection, and set up a website. The big picture sketches fabrication of clothes under the label of JAMA Nepal which would include apparel for men and women depending on existing fashion trends.

Start, believe, dream

When asked about their learning from the journey, they express, “If you feel like doing something from the heart, then you should do it, everything else will slowly fall into its place.” “It is important to believe in yourself,” adds Snehi. “There is no shortcut to success. Don’t get carried away in the process. Start small but dream big,” expresses Samyak. 

 

Comments

  • Guest
    Pariey Wednesday, 17 August 2016

    Young entrepreneur with beautiful mind. Loved how you came up with with the name JamaNepal. Truly inspiring. Keep it up.

    Reply Cancel
  • Guest
    Snehi Karmacharya Thursday, 18 August 2016

    Thank u much...
    - JAMANepal

  • Guest
    Alina Thursday, 18 August 2016

    It is really motivating to hear such beautiful story. I am glad that you guys made your dream to come in reality.I am inspired to work hard.

    Reply Cancel
  • Guest
    Alina Thursday, 18 August 2016

    It is really motivating to hear such beautiful story. I am glad that you guys made your dream to come in reality.I am inspired to work hard.

  • Guest
    Alina Thursday, 18 August 2016

    It is really motivating to hear such beautiful story. I am glad that you guys made your dream to come in reality.I am inspired to work hard.

    Reply Cancel
  • Guest
    Sonu Thursday, 18 August 2016

    I am glad that i know both of you..
    Much Love n Success in future :)

    Reply Cancel

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Guest Monday, 26 June 2017

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