It’s never too early or too late to start something meaningful in life. As such, when an 18 years old Sujhan Ghimire saw that a lot of fabric was being wasted after the final design was made, he immediately came up with an idea in the form of “Taalo”. We’ll take you through the full story of how he initiated Taalo here so, hold on.
1. Can you tell us about yourself and how Taalo came to be?
The idea of Taalo came to my mind during my 9th Standard, when I visited my father’s garment factory. There, I realized that a huge amount of usable fabric was being wasted in the form of scraps after the final products were made.
Although recycling waste clothes into cotton for blankets is still in practice, I thought that maybe I could make something better; something that’s creative and appealing to others. As a fashion enthusiast, the idea of Taalo also struck me when I couldn’t find accessories to go with my dress up. They were either extremely pricey or not available in the Nepali market at all. These are the major reasons behind establishing Taalo; to make easy availability of designed accessories at a cheaper price while utilizing fabric scraps. I started designing the business in March 2018 after I completed my high school from Rato Bangala School and began to sell the product in September 2018. Currently, Taalo is more focused on neckties and bows.
2. What motivated you to establish a social enterprise rather than moving your education forward?
I had always been an average kid at academics because I indulged myself in a lot of Extracurricular activities. Bookish knowledge is not my thing and I always aimed at running a startup with social impact before joining a Bachelor’s course. That’s how Taalo came to being while I kept my further education on a break.
3. What kind of clothes do you use for production and what are the accessories produced?
Currently, I am using silk clothes to produce bow ties and headbands. I also use cotton clothes to produce headbands. Actually, I am trying my best to work with all the fabrics. Also, I have few designs for hand warmers and leg warmers which will probably be launching this December.
4. How much did you invest in the beginning and how did you invest? How many people are there in your team?
Honestly, I did not invest a lot; it was just about 8 thousand rupees that I used from my savings. I like to draw and sketching has always been my hobby, so it was easy for me to bring my imagination into designs. As for production, I am currently outsourcing it from a garment factory which is helping me a lot. Lastly, my expenses include wages and costs of scrap textiles.
I am the sole proprietor of this company and since I’m outsourcing most of the work, I don’t have other people in my team.
5. What kind of challenges are you facing with the company?
The main challenge that I am facing is with marketing and increase my customer base. Along with that, with less investment, I have only been producing a limited range of products that I’ve actually designed. It is also a lengthy process to release the final product. I have to keep trying on different things with different materials.
6. How did you overcome the challenges?
For the first few months, I actually used my personal social media accounts to reach people and also requested some of my friends to do the same.
7. How were you able to convince your father to do business with you?
My father was not convinced when I first introduced my startup. He did not actually go with the idea of selling scrap clothes. Then I planned to continue my business with another garment factory. But after scrutinizing my idea for a long time, my father finally accepted my proposal to work on his garment factory. I am now actually paying for the office rent and employee’s wages on a piece basis for Taalo. One of the reasons I chose my father’s factory is because he is employing the underprivileged people from Nepalgunj. So, that way, I am providing work to these people indirectly as well as reducing fabric waste.
8. What social issues are you trying to address with the company?
I actually want to reduce the number of wasted clothes. Investing in something such as waste textiles will actually save a big part of the environment. There are more than 50 garment factories in Nepal which generates 15 – 20 kgs of waste every day. If I can extend my business and reach all the garment companies including the boutiques, I can majorly reduce waste.
9. Are you connected with other factories as well?
I actually reached out to some boutique stores where I can get fine fabrics. I have also reached to other two garment companies. Some people are also reaching to me for selling their scrap textiles.
10. How many customers do you have per month? Are you making a profit from your company?
I have approximately 80-100 customers per month. But in the first month, I had around 130 customers. Yes, the company is in profit and 20% of the profit is invested in training the people in Nepalgunj.
11. Are there any other problems that you are facing with the company?
Sometimes it is really difficult to deliver the goods on time because it would be a hassle for me to go around the Kathmandu Valley every single day. But to overcome this problem I have designated delivery days only on Saturday and Sunday and I work on other days. Also, I am planning to expand my business and as such, I have to hire at least 4-5 people as a team.
12. What are your future plans with the company?
Currently, I am working on publishing the website followed up with the registration of the company. My future plan is also to have an offline store for my products.
13. Do you believe yourself as a social entrepreneur? Have you thought of measuring the social impact of your organization?
Yes, I do consider myself as a social entrepreneur because I genuinely want to create a positive impact on society.
Measuring impact is actually a big thing to address. I have to first develop myself personally and also the organization. If I produce new designs in a couple of months, I’ll be able to reach new garment factories and doing so will automatically increase my reach and help in utilizing wasted fabric which ends up in landfills.
14. Is there any other information that you would like to share?
There’s just this one thing that I’d like to convey; I do not think there should be any age limit or background for startups and it is never too late to create an impact in the society.
If you have any questions regarding Taalo then reach out Sujhan Ghimire, founder of Taalo, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interviewed by Jasmin Karmacharya