Meet Nepal’s youngest smart-casual apparel startup, Fibro that offers high-quality fashion products with an aim to suit both of your personal and professional needs. Fibro has become a benchmark for both brands and consumers when it comes to product and quality standards. They are moving forward with the vision of democratizing the smart-casual apparel segment of Nepal. So far they have been able to serve over 1500 customers. They had started with Rs. 10,000 as initial capital, and are now leading their daily operations with five team members.
The idea to start Fibro struck Mr Suraj Raj Pandey in July of 2017 when he had an opportunity to visit a garment factory in Bangladesh. That is when he realized the need to create a reasonable alternative brand for the Nepali market after observing that Nepalis had no other option than buying overpriced foreign brands with mediocre quality. After his return to Nepal, he proposed this idea to one of his college friends, Ms Lubna Banu and hence began his journey with Fibro.
Mr Pandey shares, “If you look at Nepal’s apparel industry, the jacket you wear is worth Rs. 2000 on average, which is imported mostly from China, Korea, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Even though we have so many production houses and skilled people along with the capacity herein Nepal, we don’t produce the apparel by ourselves. We lack a stable brand image that can represent people’s needs.
Thus, this is the reason for Fibro’s existence that aims to be the lifestyle brand to fulfil every Nepali’s needs. You can say that we have democratized the way people understand fashion. Fashion is for everyone. Everyone should look and feel good.”
Building a Nepali Brand From Scratch
According to his experience and learning, Mr Pandey shares three things that are needed for building any kind of brand from scratch:
- Quality: Once a customer tries your products/services, you need to have the quality that can pull your customer to come back again. A brand is built with recurring customers, and from the word of mouth marketing.
- Attitude: Brand and relationships with your customers go hand in hand. From the start of your customer’s journey with your product, you need to maintain the correct attitude with customer services.
- Consistency: Consistency is the key. You constantly need to remind your customers that they can always expect the best services from you.
Talking about challenges faced, Mr Pandey confides that some people are extremely unprofessional to work with and it creates problems when the product doesn’t get delivered on time. Also, he highlighted the HR crisis that is resulted from brain drain.
“Young people do not want to stay back and old people do not want to work in startups. Now imagine an economy where new companies are not coming up, innovative solutions are not being developed and young people are fleeing the country. It’s a disastrous situation. Therefore upon solving the two aforementioned problems, I can assure you twice the growth.”
Journey as a Student Entrepreneur
As a student entrepreneur, managing both academics and business simultaneously is challenging. Currently, a final-year student at Islington College, he encourages risk-taking, as young people can learn to do rather than beating around the bush. The dual-life teaches to manage time and set priorities. Here are some of his tips for student entrepreneurs:
- Try implementing what you have learned inside the classroom in the business itself.
- Maintain professionalism and focus on networking.
- The right attitude is very important. Letting go of arrogance and being down to earth goes a long way.
- Be resourceful and willing to invest in learning new skills.
- Entrepreneurship is an uncertain journey. So prepare your mindset to be more positive and persistent before committing!
Company’s growth plans are well thought out and they are working on decentralizing with the aim to expand outside the valley, and hopefully globally someday. For now, Fibro is co-organizing Revamp Nepal under the banner of Arch Creatives with an aim to bridge the gap between Nepali consumers and Nepali apparel brands by bringing both parties together. It will be a four-month-long campaign where they will be bringing people from the industry together on one platform with college visits, panel discussions, digital marketing and likewise. A fashion runway is also planned as a closing ceremony to showcase the products.