By Rebati Adhikari
‘Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence’ says Oscar Wilde. Sneha Koirala lives by this saying. She is on her journey to make people embrace sarcasm through her venture Studio Sarcastic.
Sneha describes Studio Sarcastic as quirky fun-filled Nepali lifestyle brand. It features eccentric and humorous illustrations and designs that are printed on mugs, shot glasses, notebooks, bags and t-shirts. The first product she produced was postcards based on Fantastic Beasts. She had posted them on the social media page of Potterheads Nepal (a group of Harry Potter fans) and requests poured in to make such cards. That’s how Studio Sarcastic got started.
Sneha Koirala used to doodle since she was a kid. However, with her, doodling was not just reduced to a hobby. Her passion got translated into a business idea. She credits the unwavering support from her friends for the materialisation of Studio Sarcastic; otherwise, she would have still been a closet doodler. “One of my friends suggested that I should start making my own notebooks and also offered to help. Something he said has been etched in my memory – If you don’t work towards your dream, you end up working towards someone else’s dreams,” Koirala recollects.
“I like being creative. Whatever transpires around me, I doodle and write sarcastically about it. We only make products with a pinch of sarcasm. However, like everywhere else, people in Nepal do not consider sarcasm palatable. It’s taken as an offence and not considered an art,” observess Koirala who would like to see it evolve as a form of wit and nuanced intelligence.
The characters of Studio Sarcastic are usually young adults who are adjusting to life. “It’s not easy growing up. That’s what is reflected in our products. Certain jargons and colloquial language that we use frequently in our daily lives find way in our designs. Overall, Studio Sarcastic reflects part of us, part of every young adult,” elucidates Koirala.
Established in November 2016, her designs now make a journey to India as well. Koirala says the response has been overwhelming.
It takes roughly 45 minutes for her to translate a single design idea into a tangible form. Koirala’s preferred time of the day to delve in creativity is the evening. To help with sales, she has tied up with stores like Timro Concept Store and The Local Project Nepal where customers can view and buy her products.
Koirala doesn’t like customisation. According to her, it is good to be inspired but she’d rather make something original of her own. Rather than being recognised as an art house or a design house, she wants to develop Studio Sarcastic as a Nepali lifestyle brand. She wants to infuse the different art flavours Nepal is rich in into her work. “It will take another year for me to further understand the Nepali market,” states Koirala. However, what gives artists like Koirala the motivation to keeping going is the love youngsters have for quality Nepali products. ‘Think global, act local’ is finding resonance with young people who consider themselves the self appointed ambassadors for quality ‘Made in Nepal’ products. “And this trend is gaining momentum,” she shares.
She wants to take slow and steady steps towards business expansion. She would rather invest herself in Studio Sarcastic than accept someone else’s investment.”If you agree to the investment before the company matures, you become profit oriented. Your creativity wears off. This is something I have been very careful about. There are a lot of people interested to invest, but I am still not open to it,” asserts Koirala.
When she started off, she was gnawed by doubts and reservations about her acceptance into the lifestyle startup scene. Ten months into the business, she has come to understand both the pros and cons. Koirala has come to realise that it takes a lot to start a business especially in a country like ours where hurdles are aplenty. She says, “Unless the government encourages an investment-friendly environment, we will continue to be a remittance dependent country.”