Today’s Telegram: New vintage Nepali products eyeing global markets

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In a small villa at Damkal, Pulchowk is a recently opened store of Today’s Telegram. The interior of the outlet dons vintage looks and gives a feeling of entering an ancient Nepali home that mainly uses woods for designing the interiors.

Finely arranged on the trays are various leather bags including canvas-leather bags, hemp-leather bags, sleeve/sleek bags, hemp handbags, Eco- friendly yoga mats, pure leather bean bags and lap tables.

And, the person behind all this concept is a man in this mid-twenties, Arsalan Akhter.

When Akhter was traveling around Rajasthan in India, he was staying at one of the oldest places in that city. There was a great lavish showroom at that place, where every evening the owners used to dispatch about 70-80 pieces of bags to DHL vehicles to the clients in different countries. That was the time he came up with the idea of starting similar thing in Nepal as well and exporting to the online platforms abroad. Currently, he is collaborating with local online e-commerce platforms along with making sales through the newly opened outlet. He has plans to take the products international very soon.

“About 163 years ago when telegram was started, it was the fastest means of communication. But it is dead now. Whatever you stuff inside your bag is the telegram for you today,” he shares the story behind naming the brand as Today’s Telegram.

Today’s Telegram is essentially a writing product, more like a gift of expressions and flash fiction. It seeks to blend craftsmanship with creativity infusing different and innovative products in the segment of pure leather and hemp products, that would bring revenue for the company.

The brand was formally launched on 25th April, 2017 (2 years after the mega-earthquake). The formal opening of the outlet started with a 7-day long photo exhibition of ‘Nepal in the 60’s’ from #35mm lens’ camera clicked by Dr. David Templeman from Australia in 1967-69. The photo exhibition was intended to raise funds to install dustbins in the Kathmandu valley as the yearlong CSR project in partnership with Open Space Network.

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Today’s Telegram are products made from Nepal. Their parent company- United Tanneries has been one of the highest manufacturers & exporters of leather hides and skins for over 35 years, based in Duhabi, Sunsari.

The inception of Today’s Telegram happened 2 years ago. With lots of meticulous planning they pre-launched the products at different fairs and exhibitions for over 6 months to get the real reviews/feedbacks from end customers.

Two weeks of Today’s Telegram

The two weeks of Today’s Telegram has been unexpected, shares Akhter. They have been able to grab a lot of eye-balls with the kind of new and exciting range of products from the store. “We didn’t expect such good number in our sales this early. And, the footfall and enthusiasm from the people has so far been very encouraging,” he says adding, “I have found people who are actually not interested in leather goods appreciating our products and even buying it.”

The products at Today’s Telegram start at Rs.500 rupees basically and go up to Rs.11,500. Akhter mentions that they have already made sales of products to 65-70 people.

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Target consumers

“Our target customer is the young crowd itself. We are going on affordability section, not the premium one solely to cater the young people. Students as well as the job holders need an executive bag. People have to carry stuffs inside a bag, be it a laptop, diary or whatever. In today’s age, you’ll be finding 90% of the people carrying some kind of bags. So, the potential of bag market is huge everywhere,” shares Akhtar.

“After a child is born, he will have something in his foot, be it shoes or sandals or anything. Almost same has been in terms of bags. You just stuff something in it and run. The concept of today’s telegram was born to cater this issue. And, the affordability has been maintained to cater to the young people,” he further shares.

“Whatever the feedback we have received so far are very good and encouraging. It’s been very satisfying,” he says.

The future

“When we started Today’s Telegram, the concept was that it would be a universal product. Our tagline is the hashtag #FromtheHimalayas. So, basically saying ‘from the Himalayas’, we are going to the global circuit now. Our dream is to start it in different countries, and one of our dream destination is New York. It might take time, but we are very positive. It might just take 2-3 years, or it might happen even earlier,” says Akhter.

“We have already sold bags to the senators of USA. Congressmen and Democrats have bought our products in a grand exhibition recently organized at the Hyatt Regency. Not just one or two persons, but a mass of persons bought it, and they loved it,” he says adding, “Once we captivate the market of local Nepal, we would enter the foreign market.”

To the budding entrepreneurs:

“Since I belong to a writing field, I would give no advice at all. I would just ask them to explore whatever they want to do. It might gonna be good, or turn out to be bad. Just explore and find what you like doing,” he asks the emerging entrepreneurs.

Startups for a better Nepal!

Presentation: Basanta Kumar Dhakal