Ms. Anuza Rajbhandary (Ekadesma)
The fashion industry is one of the biggest and most profitable industries, and yet it also is the second-largest polluter in the world. With lower labor costs across developing countries, garments have become cheaper than ever. This allows top fashion brands to provide an abundance of inexpensive ready-made clothes rapidly, which has caused an environmental crisis. The goods news though, is that people are slowly understanding the reality which is why in the past few years, a lot of sustainable lifestyle brands have been popping up. Ekadesma is one such brand in Nepal that focuses on ethical and environment- friendly practices. It was founded in 2011 by Anuza and her sister Alpaza Joshi. The products are made entirely from natural fibers with heavy influences from cultural and contemporary designs and crafted by the underprivileged women of the Nepali community.
As a woman entrepreneur, she affirms that having a support system is a driving force in the success of women-led enterprises. It is never an easy task striking a balance between work and family. There are days where you have to work late hours or days where you have no time to work at all. In the end, it really just boils down to how one manages their time. In addition to these challenges, managing a business also comes with a different set of challenges. For Ekadesma, one of the major challenges was maintaining consistency in the quality of products. It was not easy to find women who were skilled in fabric weaving which was causing the inconsistencies in output.
Business during COVID-19 and Adapting to E-commerce
During the COVID -19 lockdown, Anuza chose to spend her time at home finding ways to improve her business. She decided to use existing resources to come up with a new product; the 3 layered mask. There was a huge demand for masks, and instead of staying idle, Anuza decided that they would focus on selling masks for now. She believes that one should be able to quickly adapt to market needs and trends. A crisis is not necessarily a catastrophe and can provide businesses with new opportunities if they strategize well.
At the same time Federation of Woman Entrepreneurs’ Associations of Nepal (FWEAN), together with EMERGE and Thulo.com launched “MA-UDHYAMI” campaign as a part of the project “Revitalizing Women’s Businesses Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic” and her products were selected to be promoted under the campaign. The project is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The pandemic has shown that e-commerce is only going to grow, and she advises other entrepreneurs to have an online presence. She says that one no longer has to start a business by having a physical store, and instead, one should focus on having a virtual store first which is much more effective and affordable. Business owners must be updated about customer demands and keep up with the changing technological trends.
Something to learn from Anuza
As a seasoned entrepreneur, Anuza believes that if one is keen on starting their own business, they should do something in the realm of their interest. They should start with something they are good at and are passionate about, as this always makes for an exciting entrepreneurial journey. They should also understand that success does not happen overnight, and one should not expect that to happen as well. It takes time and effort for a business to start picking up which is why entrepreneurs should instead work on developing their patience and persistence.
View all products of Ekadeshma: https://thulo.com/ekadesma/
Story Covered by: Ms. Jaani Kandangwa
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