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When we do business in textiles and fabrics and garments, I really think you cannot buy it online.

B360
B360 March 8, 2024, 11:56 am
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Shailendra Shankar
Proprietor, Wonderfabs

Shailendra Shankar is the proprietor of Wonderfabs, a forerunner business dealing in fabrics and fashion wear of the highest quality for over 30 years. His clientele runs across the country from individuals (local and from overseas) to boutiques and fashion houses. After arriving in Nepal for a short visit, Shankar, originally from Delhi, fell in love with the country. Wonderfabs was originally run by his uncle and Shankar took on the responsibility and the legacy 24 years ago. A commendable taste in prints and fabrics, Shankar has a loyal clientele that relies on his insights into the market trends and fashion culture. An astute businessman, he understands quality, salesmanship and the power of referrals which has grown his business over the years despite the competition. Wonderfabs is located centrally in Bishal Bazar, New Road and the up market, Babar Mahal Revisited.

In this edition of Business 360, Shankar talks about his top picks in brands and beliefs on running a business.

Top Mobile Applications

Instagram: Everybody finds their solace on Instagram, I use it for inspiration. In our trade, you cannot be continuously creative. You have to look for inspiration from other people’s accounts. Besides that, I like to create content as well. I don’t rely on anybody or any agency to do it for me, because the thing I believe is good, I usually promote that on my Instagram account.

X: I use a lot of Twitter, as we called it earlier. Now it’s called X.

News apps: Besides that, I like to upgrade myself with all the current affairs with news applications. I prefer the Times of India and New York Times to keep me updated with everything constantly.

Favourite clothing brands

I use Nicobar regularly. You get nice Indian clothes which are quite contemporary. I usually wear that during pujas and festivals. I also use it more like a housing brand. I use a lot of their glasses and dinnerware.

I like Uniqlo because it’s more affordable and it keeps me simple. The quality is also very good.

Startups you think will make it big or have a lot of potential

In Nepal, I particularly think that there are a few brands which are doing well. One particular brand I would like to see going places is Pari and Shae that usually does everything for homewares. They do certain things like handmade kids’ toys, candles, and jewellery, and their pottery is very nice.

Then a particular brand who’s doing very well in our industry is Oodni.

Then I see Hobby Lobby doing very well. I think in the future, they’ll go places.

Bucket list travel destination

I love travelling, but I am mostly bound to my Indian roots. I would definitely like to travel more. I have travelled once to Kerala. I have travelled many times to Jaipur. I love Rajasthan.

I recently had a trip to Singapore which I enjoyed a lot, maybe because of my kids.

In Nepal, I would like to visit Rara Lake. That is one of the things I really want to do. Mustang is my all-time favourite. I always keep myself updated about the place. Which hotel is doing well, which hotel has very nice accommodation and so on. Recently one of my friends also went there and he was all praises about Mustang. So, it is one of the two places I would like to visit very soon.

A brand that inspires you

There is this particular brand in India called ShopNOIB (No In Between) and they have done what we all aspire to do in the future. They are climbing the ladder really fast and have always been an inspiration.

Preferred perfume

Sunehre Din from Forest Essentials. I love it. It stays with you for the whole day.

Online or physical shopping

I know the world is changing and it is changing for good. But in our trade, when we do textiles and fabrics and garments, I really think you cannot buy it online. You have to see certain things about the quality of the textile. You have to feel it. You have to like it from your eyes, not from somebody else’s perspective. You have to really believe in it and then you buy it. Online is a medium that may be very good for people buying groceries and buying things that you have bought hundreds and thousands of times. But I really think that you don’t know whether what is shown in the picture is going to be delivered or not. So online is not my portal. It will never be.

Go-to eating spot

There used to be a very nice restaurant, Ghar-E-Kabab at Hotel Annapurna but unfortunately, it’s closed. Most restaurants otherwise are very good. There are certain Thakali restaurants like Daura Thakali which is upcoming. Trisara is always going to be my top pick among cafes.

There’s the recently opened Penthouse where the food is very innovative and the drinks are particularly nice.

Gadgets you use the most

I think it is my phone. And then my TV remote.

Women-run businesses you think deserve accolades

There have been a lot of women that have been an inspiration. One in particular is Lotika Chadda of Nepal Woman Crafts who’s been doing well very consistently.

Essential piece of advice you have received

I have been told persistently that in my trade you can’t say what you really think and you have to be a little bit manipulative with words. But if I feel that something is not right, I won’t say that it’s right. It is the same for my trade. If I don’t believe in certain things, I won’t let the other person buy it. Unless they are adamant on buying it, then I cannot do anything but I will not manipulate a sale just for the sake of selling.

Entertainment

My source of entertainment have recently become OTTs (Over the Top media services). The stuff on OTTs, especially the documentaries, have become very nice. It has been a very good medium to watch these shows. Other than entertainment, to a certain extent it imparts knowledge as well

I like Netflix a lot. And I like Apple TV because you tend to see certain things which are very nice, content wise. I recently watched ‘Wild Wild Country’, regarding Osho.

Is expensive necessarily better

If I have to think about my trade and business, yes, expensive is better, but only if it is durable. If it will last for a long period of time, and you are getting compliments for that, then expensive is fine. But if you are buying a Louis Vuitton bag and if you are carrying it in every social event, people will start noticing. The brand should not define you; you should define the brand. Wonderfabs has always been a place where people have defined and created the niche of this brand, instead of us. They always inspired us to buy newer, better things which are interesting and suit their personality. And that’s why Wonderfabs has been doing really well for the past 34 years now.

I do not like anything which is exorbitantly expensive, although I am not against people who are buying those exorbitantly expensive things. I like brands which are more affordable and reflect my personality of simple living.

Important qualities when choosing a brand

Quality and sustainability are very important, whether it is clothing or gadgets or shoes. Things have become expensive in this world. It’s a fast-moving world and we have to buy things that would stay a bit longer than usual.

I don’t believe in fast fashion. Companies like H&M and Zara have been using cheap labour in Bangladesh and other underdeveloped countries. They have been paid a very idiotic amount for someone’s whole day of work. And the product is not even that durable. It looks nice but it is not very durable stuff. It is fast fashion. It is a waste of our natural resources, which we need for the future generations to come.

A recent brand experience that has impressed you

Onitsuka. I initially found the brand a little expensive. But I have been wearing these shoes for some time. It was my first purchase in this particular area, but so far it’s very comfortable. It defines that price. They have many in different styles. Each one for a different occasion. The one I am wearing is really comfortable. I have been wearing it for a very long time and it’s working well.

What attracts you to a product

Colours and the quality. If something catches your eye, it is a bit difficult to distract yourself from that. So colours are the one particular thing that keeps me focused.

A mentor or a guru who has inspired you

My guru will always be my uncle, Sandeep Mishra. He taught me things, when I was particularly naive about this trade. He taught me everything about life, about trade. He’s been a very positive force in my career.

Favourite pastime

I am a simple person and an extrovert. I like to talk to people. I like to know about their views on many things. Essentially, I like meeting people. It always gives me a very nice feeling.

Personal and professional motivation

My family has always been my motivation for everything. Besides that, the place. I really like Nepal a lot. I came here for just a small stint for a couple of days, it’s been 24 years and I am not counting now. It is this place that has always motivated me, the people have always motivated me. Nepali people are not aggressive. They are very welcoming people. That is one particular thing that I like about Nepal.

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