October 7, 2016 , by Anura Shrestha, Leave your thoughts
Before setting off for the Art Market, I jokingly questioned my friend if she was wearing or carrying any product that had an authentic “Made in Nepal” tag. She looked at me quite guiltily and fumbled to double check if she was sporting any, just in case. Meanwhile, I wasted no time in flaunting my recently purchased slip-ons and ear tops, which were pakka, genuinely Nepali brands, by all means.#MadeInNepal

IN MY CITY : #MadeInNepal
My expectations were set high for the afternoon as the organizers had been forced to cancel last moment and reschedule the event due to the temperamental rainfall last weekend. Jazz music filled the vibrant atmosphere as we stepped along the trail of cobblestoned paths at the lower end of the restaurant where the prime exhibition was being held. Unlike the regular Art Market held on the first Saturday of every month, this edition was dedicated towards a special theme “Made in Nepal”. The stalls included an assortment of products ranging from jewellery, stationary, handicrafts, clothes and accessories, bags, postcards, comics and poems. Bhav Products, Kolpa, Ekadeshma, Aamo, Tissah, Allare, Mheecha, Stemp, Himalayan Hammock, Karma Coffee were among the 26 different stalls present.

Soon enough, we were shuffling between stalls, pausing long enough to marvel at the products on display, all the while, initiating light conversations with the owners on their respective ventures. Prerana Shah, co-creator at Y.O.U., an organically styled natural fabrics clothing wear line, shares “Being healthy is no longer linked to a set of hygienic diet or simply exercising. It is also about how you maintain your organic lifestyle in terms of what you wear and your responsibility towards the environment. Our products are aimed at making your investment a healthier and responsible one”. Amongst her collection of natural fiber clothing, bamboo wears stood out as a clear winner.

It was commendable to notice that some ventures had sprung up post the massive April 2015 earthquake with the aim of helping the quake affected victims with a socio-economic motive and had been continuing to do so. On market exposure, some brands had been relatively well established on social media platforms and were inching towards a stable niche whereas the others were testing their footholds amidst heavy competition between similar commodities.

Similarly, another interesting stall Kolpa had a lot to offer in terms of not only promoting handmade Nepalese products but also in supporting the makers whose skills still remain far underrepresented and unrecognized in the market. Rabi C. Malla of Kolpa adds “Our products are made of exotic and natural raw materials like nettle, hemp, cardamom and cotton. We rarely import accessories. However, in the rare cases that we do, like in the making of our bags (vegetable tan handmade leather), we use Japanese accessories (chains and zippers) to ensure better durability to our customers”.

The other striking theme among some brands is the recurring reflection and representation of their rich culture and traditional motifs that have been packed in their creative displays. Tissah, a fashion-jewelry and accessory line, makes bags that distinguish themselves with the use of colors inspired from the Haku-Patasi (traditional Newari attire). Aamo by Aayusha Shrestha, a conceptually based jewelry line produces intricate designs and pieces whose inspiration is deeply rooted in the Nepali culture as well as the owner’s personal journey. Similarly, Allare’s products focus on transcending traditional Nepali art into modern mediums.

I also came across a few stalls that I had stumbled online during some random searches. Fortunately, I had the full privilege to personally go through their products which were surprisingly as good as their virtual portrayals.

All in all, this edition of the Art Market was dedicated towards encouraging passionate, emerging young artists in uniting and marketing their home products and most importantly in launching the hashtag campaign “#MadeInNepal” so as to promote, cover and cater to a broad range of people. As Pranidhi Tuladhar, Product Designer of image ark expresses “With contemporary art promotions usually confined to closed spaced galleries, we came up with the idea of reaching out to the regular crowds, encouraging local artists and hosting a product oriented marketplace”. She further adds “Usually people are quick to complain that why is it so expensive if it is made in Nepal. However, I think it should be the other way round. If it is made in Nepal, why shouldn’t it be expensive?” That should get everyone of us pondering before scoffing at a Nepali brand. Don’t you think?
I could hardly keep track of time by the end of the afternoon. Honestly, I was tempted to grab one or more items from each stall (which I may have) and have it put to good use. For it not only represents me and my roots, but adds a deeper sense of belongingness.

So, the next time you need to purchase anything, I suggest you do not hesitate to look up and try out some of our very local, very own Nepali brands. And rightfully apply the hashtag #MadeInNepal!

(The Yellow House under collaboration with Image Ark organizes an Art Market in Sanepa on the first Saturday of every month. This special edition of Art Market: Made in Nepal was held on the 17th of September. )

Words by Anura Shrestha.
Photos by Thomas Dutour.
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