“Be your own boss, don’t copy anyone, and start something of your own”- this has been the guiding philosophy behind Yala Wears, one of the most promising startups in recent years. It has managed to survive the cut-throat competition of the clothing industry and has established itself as a recognizable brand in the Nepali market. The fact that the company managed to achieve this feat in a mere 13 months makes their story even more incredible.
Beginning of the Journey
Yala Wears began in December of 2018 as a venture of Mr Siddhartha Man Shakya and Ms Arija Shakya. They both made an initial investment of about Rs. 78000 each to fund the business. In the initial days, they started the business introducing “Yala” brand for imported bottles from China rather than a clothing line due to logistic issues related to cloth manufacturing.
After the first month of the start-up when they sold only the stylish bottles, they officially introduced clothes to the brand-family. Despite the success of the water bottle business, the clothing line did not gain immediate traction. While they sold almost 500 pieces of the bottle by the end of the month, the clothes did not put up a similar sales number. However, today the clothing brand has succeeded in satisfying the customers’ tastes and has been able to carve out its share in the competitive market.
Joining the Run of Competitors
Yala Wears overturned the conventional notion that high initial investment was everything for a successful business since they started off with the initial investment of fewer than 2 lakhs. They decided to introduce clothes made with high-quality fabrics by linking with an export factory that sold to international countries like the UK, US, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries. They used the fabrics that were stocked up in the process of export in the factory “For example”, Mr Shakya explained,
“Out of the 300-400 kilos of fabric used to make clothes for export, 100 kilos usually remains idle, and that would be used for Nepal, which is, in fact, a lot”.
‘Standing Out’ in the crowd
Despite the number of companies mushrooming side by side with Yala Wears, like JUJU Wears, Mr Shakya is assured of their competitive edge, citing the “Go-Local ” agenda that promotes local products to enhance the glocal market of Nepal. He further adds that the fabric used in Yala Wears is not available anywhere else in the country and it is their Unique Selling Point. Also, the new designs they introduce with each new product are their key to standing out in the crowd. With regards to their focus on sportswear specifically, he added,
“From among all other options, we chose sportswear because unlike other normal outfits, sportswear allows for various designs, prints, and fabrics that can keep changing and we can actually play with it”.
Overcoming the Obstacles
As it is said, ‘Slow and Steady Wins the race’, selling clothes took time, but it eventually became profitable in the 13th month.
“It took time- but it actually happened!!”, Mr Shakya remarks, “However we had started with a low-profit margin so sustaining a sizable profit is still a huge challenge for us. The product sells, the money flows in. For a moment, there is money, but the business swallows it right back in ”.
He recalls the days when they used to rack their brains for new design ideas. They were pressured to stand out from the competitors by the likes of KTM CTY, Gorkha Aesthetics, Urbanity, Trishul and many more, ”Out of frustration, at one point, I had considered using all my energies to work for a company instead, but my determination to own something and to have my name on it was what pulled me through the troubled time”.
Achieving the Dream
It was a small dream at first, which though small, was a big one for someone so young. With grit and determination, the designs took form, and their dreams turned into reality. Mr Shakya and his partner proudly stand together today as the owners of Yala Wears, as they promote the upcoming categories under the Brand ‘Yala’, which is the next big step for the business. He extends his heartfelt gratitude to the customers whose feedback has been his ultimate source of motivation. For all the entrepreneurs, he implores: “Be original and do something fresh. That should be your main motive behind dreaming big”.