Ttisa Wears originated out of the passion and interest of the founders to create something of their own and preserve their tradition. Ms. Simran Shakya is passionate about fashion, while her sister Ms. Sujeena Shakya has worked with the marginalized communities in her job. Both aimed to create a sustainable impact on others’ lives and also develop an avenue for their mother to use her sewing and managerial skill. The platform acted as a means to boost their mother’s confidence and provided recognition for her work.
The planning during lockdown proved to be a boon. Ttisa Wears was established in February 2021 with the aim to provide comfortable and stylish ethnic products. The venture also focused on targeting homemakers like their mom Ms. Anita Shakya, to form this home-based business.
A few weeks back we had an insightful conversation with the sisters’ duo Ms. Simran Shakya and Ms. Sujeena Shakya, founders of Ttisa Wears who shared with us the journey of this Made in Nepal handmade brand!
Tell me about your motivation to start your own enterprise?
Simran: I am strongly passionate about fashion. However, my main inspiration to start my own venture stemmed from the overall growth in businesses happening in the Nepali market during the lockdown. It acted as a boost of motivation to start something on my own as many businesses were flourishing even in this difficult time. In addition, the support from my mom and the opportunity to utilize her sewing and managerial skills also played a crucial role.
Many young entrepreneurs derive the idea for their ventures from their family’s experience in running a business. Was there any similar influence for you?
Sujeena: Our family has a business background. Obviously, the involvement of our family in this business from generation has played a role to do something on our own. Due to my sister’s interest in fashion, we took this as an opportunity to utilize our mother’s skills and promote her work. Together, we used all our strengths and worked as a team to create Ttisa wears.
Simran: Our maternal grandmother has helped us create one of our fastest selling products which is a Thaili. Thaili is a traditional Newari coin purse called Gakhi Mheecha. We revived the design and were able to create a modern purse while still holding traditional elements. It is our way of passing traditional values to the next generation.
What is the inspiration behind the name of the business?
Simran: Ttisa in Newari culture signifies a kind of treasure. It is symbolic of the sentimental value that our product holds. We believe that our customers will cherish and treasure the products when they use them.
Sujeena: The literal Newari translation of Ttisa is jewelry. For us, jewelry not just relates to gold or gems, but for us, it relates to the traditional essence and valuable meaning that our brand carries. Additionally, we also customize our products based on client’s demands; hence, every client has their own personalized piece of treasure.
Can you tell me more about the company?
Simran: Our venture started with scrunchies and masks as our main product. Once the initial products gained popularity, we worked towards improving the current offering and expanding to new products. We start with the planning process where we not only brainstorm new design ideas but also assess traditional designs which can bring a new feel to our product.
Sujeena: Our mother looks after the production process and designing and later, teaches that to other homemakers, mostly from Patan area at present. We are currently focused on expanding the product line while improving homemakers’ skills.
What is the approach of your brand towards sustainability?
Simran: We use plastic-free packaging and highly adopt the principle of reuse. We utilize the remaining fabrics and use them for smaller items such as scrunchies.
Sujeena: Sustainability can also be linked with our utilization of local skills and knowledge. Our locally sourced fabrics ensure that we are supporting local artisans and resources available around us.
Can customers request customized products?
Certainly! Our products are available for customization. We have done quite a few customization options for bridal masks and embroidery bags.
What are the products currently being offered?
At the moment, we have our best sellers which are Dhaka fabric-based masks, scrunchies, and hairbands. Additionally, our Thaili and tote bags are also quite popular. We have focused on locally available and handmade materials.
Who are your allies in running the business?
Our main allies would be homemakers who help produce our products. Secondly the local business from where we get our raw materials. There are also social organizations who organize local markets stalls which helps us in showcasing our products. We currently have 2 employees and plan to create more employment for the marginalized women population in the future.
What were the major challenges in starting this venture?
Simran: The most challenging aspect was the situation due to the pandemic and the lockdown. It limited our ability to source raw materials as well as hindered the delivery process. In addition, being an exclusively hand-made product, it is reflected in our pricing which is higher than mass-produced items. Some customers question the difference in our pricing compared to others.
Sujeena: Pandemic has been both a challenge and an opportunity for us. It is also a blessing in disguise as we could find the market opportunity to start this brand.
How do you deal with the competition in the market?
There is definitely a large competition in this industry, however, we are focusing on incorporating traditional elements and local concepts to bring creative and new products that are different. For example, the current market is saturated with silk masks and accessories whereas, we have a wider variety of color and fabric choices which gives the items a whole new feel.
Where can the customers find your products?
How has this entrepreneurial journey been so far for you?
Simran: It is a rewarding experience to see your ideas materialize. The overwhelming response from our customers for my vision was something that I never imagined.
Sujeena: This venture has surpassed my initial expectation. I learnt through the process that implementing one’s passion can be quite rewarding. I love the fact that our team is like a family and we have provided opportunities to my mother as well as other homemakers to explore their talents/skills, gain recognition and generate some income at the same time.
Is there any additional suggestion you would like to give to other emerging entrepreneurs?
Sujeena: The best suggestion at present time is not to overthink and wait for the perfect time as it doesn’t really exist. I believe the biggest challenge is to take that first step. After that, you will eventually find your way and move forward. Due to the risks, it is better to start small and take an affordable risk.
Simran: Mistakes are inevitable throughout the entrepreneurship journey. But, they are the best way to learn. I also want to encourage other emerging entrepreneurs and emphasize the power of social media. It is quintessential for businesses to prioritize social media and proper showcasing of your products to grab the attention of the audience.
Support this handmade Nepali enterprise which also preserves our traditional designs! Shop now!
Facebook: Ttisa Wears