Monday, May 25, 2015

This Summer, Keep Your Tees Local


Almost everyone dreams of being their own boss one day, of owning a business however small or big. Once the American Dream, it has now become an Indian Sapna. While Sikkim still remains in the grips of the government-job-is-everything syndrome, the youth are trying to break this generations old mold. There are a good number of youth giving “business” a shot. These may not be big ventures but small cottage industry style start-ups that have promise if taken in the right direction.
For instance, college student Phurba Doma Lepcha’s handpainted t-shirts are fast gaining popularity for their unique Lepcha motifs and appealing local cartoons. She is a final year BA student at Sikkim Government College-Tadong and originally hails from Neyurdang village near Tashiding in West Sikkim. She started her brand of t-shirts ‘Native PDL’ in 2014.
“As I am doing my BA Honours in Lepcha language, I came across many traditional Lepcha stories which were so beautiful and I thought of doing something for my culture, to let people around the world learn about these beautiful legends,” says Phurba on how it all started.
“At first I started with just Lepcha illustrations but now I also do illustrations inspired by and about other communities of Sikkim as well,” she adds.
Phurba designs and paints the t-shirts herself. She paints on readymade t-shirts of the Jockey brand and assures that the garments are washable and durable. Those interested can also customize the designs according to their liking. Men’s tees are priced at Rs 1,000 and women’s at Rs 950. The prices, however, also depend on the size and design.
Another youngster, 24-year-old Sonam Gyamtso started his brand of t-shirts and jumpers- ‘The Bloke Sikkim’ - in 2014 as well. His designs cater more to the hip and urban crowd with a hint of Sikkimese culture.  
“I was always passionate about two things that defined my style of wear - tees and shoes. Since Sikkim gets a lot of tourists I thought such tees and jumpers would be a good idea for visitors to take home as souvenirs,” he shares.
Gyamtso also designs the clothes himself while the printing is done in Nepal. “Indian companies won’t deal with small orders and I just print 30-50 tees per design to keep it unique for customers. All the clothes are screen printed,” he informs.
Both these young entrepreneurs have started small in terms of finances. “In the beginning I used my own money and later I put the profits I earned back into the business,” says Phurba.
“I used some money I had saved up and borrowed some from my father,” informs Gyamtso. 
Small businesses have a new ally in the internet today. India is currently seeing a boom in online retailing with many small start-ups now becoming major players in the retail business. In Sikkim, a lot of young entrepreneurs are using the social media to promote as well as to sell their products. Phurba and Gyamtso primarily sell their products online.
For Native PDL, orders can be placed via its Facebook page or WhatsApp at 9800031298. The Bloke Sikkim also has a Facebook page and one can place an order via Instagram or WhatsApp, Viber at 9732811368.
On what the future holds for Native PDL, Phurba says, “I still have long way to go and I’ll try my best to promote it all over the world. I want to take Native PDL to the next level where not only in Sikkim but all over the world people will know and appreciate Sikkimese culture and traditions. I want our youth to know what we can do with our innovative ideas, with our art and culture. We can make the world beautiful”.
Gyamtso, however, is still a little uncertain about the future. He says, “To be honest I might take this forward if business goes well but I don’t know for sure. I’ll have to see”.

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