“We initially started The Mint Studio to make use of the clothing that our trainees were making as a part of their garment making training” shares Richa Rajbhandari, co-founder of The Mint Studio. “Bishal, Ritu and I were involved in White Lotus Crafts, and while working there we realised that in the process of training these women, we would have a lot of products that would go to waste. With multiple batches of forty students, the products would just pile up. So, we thought of branding these products and starting our own label.”
They began The Mint Studio in March of 2017, as a brand under White Lotus Crafts. White Lotus Crafts was a company that provided vocational skills training to women who were looking to go abroad to work as skilled labour in garment companies and shoe factory for Safer Migration Project (SaMi) conducted by Helvetas. However, when the program ended Rich, Ritu, Bishal along with Avant decided to start a company with the resources they already had. “While working in White Lotus Crafts we began a brand called ‘Memoir’ which sold bed sheets. But after the project ended, we still wanted to continue with the brand and so we worked with our trainers and evolved ’Memoir’ to ‘The Mint Studio’, and now under The Mint Studio we just focus on clothing.”
In a market dominated by readymade Chinese goods, The Mint Studio stands out with its ‘Made in Nepal’ label. They currently sell eight varieties of products- jackets, windcheaters, Hoodie, Sweatshirt, Sweaters, Infinity Mufflers, lounge wears and festive dresses. They are known in the market for their durable and trendy clothing that are affordably priced. And this is not by accident. “In Nepal, we either see garments that are of low standard, or branded products. Plus, we do not have everyday functional wear. What we do have, are products not worth what we pay for, these products are priced higher than what they are worth. But with The Mint Studio, we want to cater to the middle-class market. We try and promote the ‘Made in Nepal’ label with clothes that are functional and trendy, yet of good quality and affordable. In conclusion, worth what you paid for” Apart from hoping to create more interest in the ‘Made in Nepal’ brand and thus, decrease the number of readymade garments imported to Nepal, The Mint Studio also provides employment to women who would otherwise leave Nepal in search for better options.
With the investment, The Mint Studio want to expand their product line and opening their own retail store. “We have learned through our experience that, when it comes to buying clothes, people want to feel and touch the clothes. Plus, there are always issues regarding sizes and how the product looks on them compared to how it looks online. That is why we think our next step is to start a retail store.” Along with investments, The Mint Studio is also looking to build their relationship with their suppliers and to build their brand.