Logo fashion Industries has been producing high quality Made in Nepal Clothier for almost 22 years now. Working as both manufacturing and retail business, Logo has been breaking the stereotype that Made in clothes lack the quality. Here is a conversation with Mr. Sonam Muktan, Director of Logo Fashion Industries.
1. Tell me about your journey to starting this venture?
Basically, Logo Fashion Industries started off as a manufacturing company and we have been in the market for more than 20 years now. Well, 22 years to be precise. We had factories in Nepal, Vietnam, and Dubai. But due to political reasons, we had to close down the factory of Nepal in 2002. Despite this, we continued exporting the garments at a private level by outsourcing the production. We had the vision and mission of promoting job opportunities and contributing to the economy as a whole, so we wanted to restart our factory in Nepal but the issues related to price competitiveness, cost of production, the business environment made it difficult. When shifting the production back to Nepal, the quality of our products would suffer and we would lose the market, so the opportunity cost was high. So that is when we thought of starting our own brand. We had the 20 years of experience so we thought why not create and promote a Nepali Brand for Nepali people. So that’s how LOGO as a brand was formed in Nepal in 2016.
Currently, we have factories in Vietnam and Dubai but they are running at a small scale that produces for private levels. And we also have our own factory located in Bhaktapur, which produces clothier with LOGO tags and sells in the domestic market; only a small percentage is exported.
2. When did it start? Where are the stores located?
LOGO Fashion Industries as a manufacturing firm started in 1997 and LOGO as a brand and retail store started in 2016. We have our stores in Jhamsikhel, Baneshwor, Lazimpat, and Bhaktapur. We are also opening a store in Dillibazar soon.
3. Why LOGO as a brand name?
I get that question a lot. The manufacturing company established in 1997 is also named as LOGO Fashion Industries. So, we wanted to carry on that name, thus we named our brand LOGO. In addition to this, we wanted the products from LOGO to define you and be your identity; so, the name LOGO.
4. Where you get the raw materials (fabrics) for your products?
Technically any industry in Nepal has to depend on the supply chain of foreign nations because the domestic supply chain is not organized and mainly the inputs are not available. So, we also rely on third parties but we try our best to incorporate the Nepali touch in our products by using Dhaka fabrics whenever possible; we also try to use all the raw materials available in Nepal that are appropriate for us. Our major inputs are cotton and linens which are unfortunately not available in high quality in Nepal so we are bound to source it from other countries like China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea.
5. What is your current staff strength?
We have altogether 60 people working under LOGO Fashion Industries. The manufacturing department has around 40 to 45 workers; the number is not exactly as it largely depends on the seasons and the output we are producing. We also have three 3 designers, one from Nepal and two from Germany. And the rest are involved in the retail department who looks after sales, marketing and so on.
6. What are your target customers? How do you market your products?
The main market of LOGO is the working class people as we mainly offer smart casual products. In addition, we were also involved in market testing and based on that we have also started focusing on the teenagers rather than being limited to office going customers. To be specific, our target market includes people from 18 to 50 years of age group.
Basically, influencer marketing, word of mouth, digital marketing are the measures we use to market our products.
7. What makes your products unique?
As I said earlier, we come from a manufacturing background and we have been exporting for more than 20 years now and when exporting, quality is of highest concern. So our products are of high quality. There has always been this perception in Nepal that Made in Nepal products are not of high quality and should generally be cheap. We have been able to change that mindset to some extent and the quality that we offer has helped us in that. Along with the quality we also focus on a sound retail working environment, the customer experience when using our product as well as when visiting our stores. So overall we try our best to make our customer happy and satisfied; and this has also allowed us to handle and tackle the ever-increasing competition and make both our product and service unique.
8. Any customer experience you’d like to share?
Till now we have had good customer feedback and that is what is keeping us motivated. The customers who visit our store are often amused at the quality of the products that we offer and when we tell them that the products are Made in Nepal, we get very positive response. The customers also send their feedback through social media.
But not every experience is good one. The Nepalese market is a bit complicated. The majority of the products are imported due to which they have lower costs than those produced in Nepal. So, at times, we do face situations where customers want high discounts which are actually not possible as we do not overprice our products. Practicing arbitrage and cheating the customers is not what we do; so we have fixed price for all our products and the outlets in different places have the same price. This sometimes makes it difficult to handle the situation when customers want a discount.
But with time, we have been able to gain and develop the trust and loyalty of customers towards our brand.
9. What challenges did you face while starting the company and what are the challenges you are facing right now?
When we restarted LOGO Fashion Industries in Nepal the overhead cost was very high. It was and still is difficult to find skilled manpower and they are limited in number. As a result, the salary is high. Plus, the government policies, tax, custom issues, delay in transportation are other major challenges.
10. How have you been overcoming your challenges?
Talking about the manpower, due to quality concerns we are salary based so it often difficult to hold the workers. To ensure the retention of the workers we have been providing insurance facilities and provident fund facilities. And regarding government policies, it is not something we can control.
11. How many customers or clients do you have?
We don’t have accurate data. But the flow largely depends on the season. There is higher inflow during the festive seasons and during the evenings. Likewise, the inflow also depends on the location of the stores. So, on average there are around 10 to 15 customers daily.
12. What is the future plan for your company?
We just started a retail business and LOGO as a Nepali brand. So, we are planning to expand the LOGO to major cities within and outside Kathmandu. If everything works out, we will also have been exporting clothiers of the LOGO brand.
13. How has your entrepreneurial experience been so far?
The journey has been fun as well as full of growth and exploration. There were surely lots of challenges and struggle but these challenges made the journey worthy. I studied in Germany and coming back to Nepal was a big decision for me; initially, it was difficult to get used to the Nepali work environment, there was lots of dissatisfaction. But with time I overcame the challenges and I have become a better and stronger person. So, yes I got to learn a lot.
14. Any other mention you’d like to share?
Fortunately, the number of people liking and using Nepali products is growing, initiatives are being taken to promote them which is really appreciative. Through this platform, I’d future like to encourage and request the people to at least try the Made in Nepal products and promote them. Let’s support local businesses and help our economy grow.
Interviewed and article by Trishna Shakya.