Nepali Times
Making A Difference
Not just a business

SOCIAL FABRIC: Anin Rajbhandari and his wife, Jolly, are actively involved in training the sixty women that they employ at their pashmina factory in Harisiddhi.

Nepal's pashmina industry went into a deep slump after a boom in the late 1990s. Hundreds of companies shut down unable to compete with mass produced imitation pashmina from India and China.

One Nepali pashmina supplier, however, stood by the quality of his products and survived the slump. Anin Rajbhandari, proprietor of Tara Orientals, knew that keeping quality control yielded long-term benefits, and intelligent branding ensured the market.

The son of a businessman, Rajbhandari had always wanted to establish his own business. He quit his managerial job at a five star hotel to work with a carpet manufacturer where he learned the tricks of the trade. Few years later he joined hands with two of his friends and began weaving pashmina at a friend's garage.

Tara Orientals was set up in 1997 and was well-timed as the demand for pashmina was beginning to boom. However, exports soon took a nosedive and the new venture was left in a lurch.

"Since we didn't have to pay rent for the factory we decided not to shut down immediately," Rajbhandari recalls. He didn't lose heart and meticulously took care to ride out the downturn. Guaranteeing the quality of the products helped him find and keep buyers, who were put off by imitation and cheap pashmina.

"Initially we were only producing pashmina shawls but after the slump we felt the need to push the envelope to cater to niche markets for high quality innovative pashmina products," Rajbhandari explains.

The first attempt at reviving the company's products was experimenting with varying weaves to create unique designs. The company now boasts of an extensive product line from handkerchiefs to blankets. "We infuse contemporary designs in our products without compromising on the quality, so each detail in every single product requires more time and effort," says Rajbhandari who works closely with design team.

This has allowed Oriental to not just focus on the niche market, but take the brand international. Tara Orientals' products are now not just limited to Europe and America, they are selling well even in markets like South Africa and Ecuador. Although the demand for pashmina products is growing, it has been tough for Nepali companies to tap the growth, says Rajbhandari, who blames lack of skilled human resource.

"We do not have enough people with a flair for design who can translate contemporary fashion trends into pashmina products," he says.

Anin and his wife, Jolly, are actively involved in promoting women with training and skills to rise up the ranks at their factory in Harisiddhi. Providing women with skills and employment empowers them and decreases the out-migration of Nepali women.

The company has an education program for employees under which one child of each worker receives school funding.

Says Rajbhandari: "After all education paves the path for progress, and no business in Nepal can be solely about the business. You have to look at the larger social setting."

Bhrikuti Rai

See also:
Weaving a brighter picture, PAAVAN MATHEMA
A decade since the boom ended, Nepal's pashmina industry is carving out a niche market

1. Anjali Tamang
Hi do you have a store in Kathmandu where we could buy your produts?

2. Mike Taylor
I am looking for a drop shipping supplier of cashmere (pashmina) products to supply my customers. Is this possible to do with Tara Orientals?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)