Lockdown Economy Nepal in Textile and Tailoring Industry with Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha
The interview was transcribed and adapted into an article by Sujan Manandhar
Lockdown Economy: Interviews by think tank AlterContacts.org with real entrepreneurs sharing insights, challenges and successes during the COVID19 global pandemic to inspire, motivate and encourage other entrepreneurs around the world. Lockdown Economy Nepal is done in collaboration with the Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs Forum — Kathmandu Chapter.
In this interview, we meet Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha, the Co-Founder of Ratna Raaz, which is a luxury tailoring brand in Nepal. It brings luxury, innovation, and excellence to men’s tailoring. Rajeshwor spoke about the problems Ratna Raaz faced during the lockdown. The size of the clientele reduced significantly. Events, where people would wear suits, were also not organized due to the pandemic. Ratna Raaz aspired to change the dressing etiquette of people but the lockdown made it difficult to do it. During the lockdown, they introduced another brand which provides clients with bespoke casual elegant wear. Ratna Raaz will be working more on this brand as well as their suit collection for next year in the coming months.
Could you introduce us to Ratna Raaz?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: The Company started with a passion and love of suits and dressing etiquette. We were established in 2017 and we are located at Durbar Marg (Kathmandu city). We are all about making bespoke suits. The reason we started this company was to educate people about suits. We started with three people in our team and we have grown to nine people in three factories. We have entertained about 180 clients in these three years.
What was your inspiration to start this business?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: The inspiration has always been my father. My father always wore suits to work but his colleagues put on casual clothes. When I asked him the reason, he told me I would understand when I was older. I grew up in a boarding school where you always have to wear a blazer and trousers. It was the same even in high school. I was curious because in movies they wear casual clothes. I wanted to learn more about suits. I went to Australia for my further studies where I got a chance to work with Hugo Boss and Armani. So that’s where my inspiration comes from (my father and these brands).
How was your business performing before the pandemic?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: Ratna Raaz only takes appointments, unlike other stores. Then we discuss with the client about their body aesthetic and what event they are attending. There are different types of suits and there are different occasions to wear them. We work in a studio, not a store. It was already a challenge for us before the lockdown because it is a newer concept here. People slowly started understanding our brand. Before the lockdown, our goal was to entertain only 10 clients per month but we were getting more orders than that.
What kind of problems did you face during the lockdown?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: During the pandemic, people had to work from home. Now the number of the order has gone down to 3 clients per month. There are more webinars taking place and people dress more casually. Reintroducing people to our way of dressing would be a challenge now. There was also a big order we had before the pandemic where the client needed 90 bespoke suits for a destination wedding. The event itself got cancelled because you cannot travel and the order is still pending.
What kind of strategies did you put in place to stimulate your business during the lockdown?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: Initially, we thought the lockdown would only last 14 days as per the news. It was a break from work and we spent some time with our families. But after that, we discussed with our team because if we could not get orders in, it would be difficult for our business to survive. Around the fourth week of the lockdown, we started working on elegant casual wear which I had been planning with my business partner for a while. We started this new brand under Ratna Raaz called Lifestyle. We even make T-shirts with your body measurements. We tried a hundred pieces in the beginning and it all sold out in five days. It was a big hit.
What was the response of the customers to this new strategy?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: Initially people were surprised because even T-shirts are in bespoke style. Normally you go to a retail store and buy it off the shelf. It was difficult for people to believe but it was only about finding a way and it really took off.
How did the industry approach the lockdown?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: We already had a fewer number of clients because of our business model. Many other retail stores were impacted as well because in Nepal we wear bespoke suits only for big events such as marriage. We had a few webinars to discuss the way ahead.
Now the lockdown has been eased in Nepal, how is your business performing?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: Ratna Raaz is my second home. We reopened after the first lockdown was lifted and we continued working through the second lockdown because we might not have survived if we continued to stay in lockdown. We worked on the Lifestyle brand and our winter collection designs. After the second lockdown, we got an overwhelming response from our clients who had been waiting to take an appointment because the wedding season is here. We have 20–35 appointments still pending because I was in isolation for a month due to COVID.
What is the outlook for Ratna Raaz for the next three months?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: In the next three months, we will be working on the Lifestyle casual brand because that is the attitude of people now in terms of clothing. We will also be working on our winter line for our bespoke suits as well as the collection for next summer.
Could you mention three things in your business that you need help with?
Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha: Social media is very important since a lot of people are still working from home and have spare time to browse the internet. I request people to follow our social pages for new designs and tips on dressing etiquette. We would like people to show love and support to our brand by picking an appointment with us on our website.
About the guest
Mr. Rajeshwor Raaz Shrestha is the Co-founder of Ratna Raaz Luxury tailoring that provides luxury, innovation, and excellent tailoring to meet every man’s needs.