3-9 January 2014 #688

Branding the Himalaya

Nepal, the very word still has a mystic pull. The majestic mountains, friendly people, and an unspoilt way of life are the attributes that make manufacturers employ Nepali names for their products. International companies like Toms have launched ‘Nepal’ lines, and a New Zealand entrepreneur launched the Kathmandu brand of sportswear and outdoor products. Companies like Aveda have tried to link their sales with charity work for Nepali children, especially during the holiday season.

As a brand, Sherpa Adventure Gear stands out because it was started by a Nepali.

Its distinctive ‘endless knots’ logo, the Sherpa brand name, and Made in Nepal label, make it one of the most internationally recognised Nepali brands today. Founded by Tashi Sherpa, the Seattle-based climbing and outdoor clothing company opened its flagship store in Nepal in 2009. The five-floor building in Narayanhiti Marg houses the company’s research and development unit. Most Sherpa apparel, sleeping bags, and tents are manufactured in Nepal generating employment for hundreds. Sherpa Adventure Gear’s insulation jackets, fleece hoodies, down jackets, sleeping bags, and trekking gear with its proud Made in Nepal tags are now sold across stores in the US, Europe, and Asia.

Sherpa enlists Nepali celebrity mountaineers like 12-time Everest summiteer Lhakpa Rita Sherpa as ‘brand athletes’ and helps specially with education for Sherpa children in the Khumbu. Sherpa’s Paldorje Education Fund helps children of Nepali mountaineers who are injured or killed while climbing. The company donates Rs 50 from every item sold to the fund. Says Tashi Sherpa: “I know it was a huge leap of faith to base myself in Nepal. But it’s not about me, I am just the custodian of the Nepal and Sherpa brands.”

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