Mingma Diki Sherpa was a computer science student and had worked in social and development fields as communication officer for ten years. She is now following her passion that incorporates working in the field of fashion. In February 2015, she founded Paila, a footwear brand that depicts the rich culture and art of Nepal, is eco-friendly and operates with the use of local resources and skills.
She had traveled to different parts of Nepal during her work in social and development field and hence, got a chance to learn more about Nepali tradition, culture, art, locally available resources, skills and the market. No sooner she identified her passion towards doing something of her own, she set out to seek more knowledge on the business type she wanted to undertake. She researched on her business model, availability of raw materials, prospects of business and core competency that could be added to the business to make her product different than the competitors. On her visit to hometown, she found her core raw materials for production, that was Allo and came up with the idea of starting a business with a blend of environmentally sustainable techniques.
“I then searched for an appropriate location and people with the shoe-manufacturing skills. I made the designs and we manufactured some samples initially. This process took about a month,” remembers Sherpa. After that phase, they picked their best design and sample that could finally be delivered to the customers. She named it ‘Paila Terrace’. The name was inspired by the terrains and landscape of Nepal that included terrace farming that is practiced here. Their other products include Paila Bakhu and Paila Dhaka.
Mingma says, â€œWe do not have the proper resources to carry out research. Even Googling doesnâ€™t help when we want to explore our local products. One has to go for on-sight visits thus making the research costlier. Also, building a team is very difficult.â€ She also said that consistency in production and professionalism among workers is one of the major challenges to cope with being an entrepreneur.
Paila shoes are mainly made from Allo and are inspired by Nepali culture. The fabrics used in Nepali cultural dresses like Dhaka and Bakkhu are reflections of a ‘Being-Nepali’ brand. All these are locally available fabrics and is outsourced from the vendor. The Shoe soles are made from the recycled sole, hence making PAILA shoes ‘environment -friendlyâ€™. The shoes are then delivered to the customers via online orders by Kathmandu Couriers.
“At first, I started the business through my own PR and among my close network,â€ reminisces Sherpa. “We then created a Facebook page and website to carry out marketing of the products. Besides this, we also showcase our products in various events,” she adds.
She started the company targeting both global customers as well as local ones. â€œThey are appreciating my products and the feedbacks they give are my biggest rewards. The sales are in incremental trend. People inquire about the product visiting the stores as well as online. Some even buy Paila shoes as souvenirs as it represents Nepal and its people,â€ she shares.
Paila does not just represent a step towards her dream, but also a step towards boosting the country’s economy and making Nepal known not just as a land of Mount Everest or Buddha, but also known for local produce and products. Mingma adds, â€œEconomic condition should be strengthened for the welfare of people and the country. With this as my main concept, I use locally available raw materials, local human resources and their skills by providing employment opportunities. By purchasing Paila shoes, each customer is taking a step (Paila) towards making Nepal recognized, and boosting country’s economy.
Paila shoes are considered to be durable, comfortable and eco-friendly shoes. Quality control is the main emphasis on the production process. “For now, I am focusing on delivering a quality product to the customer, not through mass production, but by creating a marketplace for valued product and we seek growth through this. There are customers who value local products a lot. They understand the raw materials used in the product are unique and the labor-intensive job is what makes the product they purchase valuable” shares Mingma. â€œOur main target is slowly taking Paila shoes on an international level in the future.â€
Being a mother of one, and an entrepreneur, she shares that it is the continuous support from her family that has kept her going. “one needs to plan out carefully and have a clear picture of whatever they are doing, be focused, and have consistency in work,” she shares to all the aspiring entrepreneurs.
Startups for a better Nepal!
Presented By: Anusha Kadel