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Shoe Laundry: Transforming small idea into a profitable business

Surendra, Subas and KD (from left to right)

This story is about a marketer working for a reputed paint company, a science student, and an Australia-returned; the only thing that was common between them: the desire to start something of their own.

Karma Dorje Shrepa (KD), Surendra Maharjan and Subas Kiran Chaudhary brainstormed for days on a business idea they could execute. “First we thought of getting into the garment business and then were almost on the verge of starting a Restaurant,” says Sherpa, who spent hours scouring the internet for ideas. Then the team had a Eureka moment.

The idea looked fairly simple. But to implement the idea, they would need to have a strong mindset as the job they wanted to do was something society, in general, would look down upon. On July 31, 2016, within days after the idea struck a chord with the team, the trio opened ‘Shoe Laundry’ a company that specialises in cleaning shoes, probably the first of its kind in Kathmandu.

“It does not matter what educational background you have. If you have the passion and desire to take it to the next level, you will do well. No job is small, someone can drive a taxi abroad without any hesitation, but he does the same in Nepal, it’s considered low-level work. This mentality has to be changed, and it’s up to the youth to do so,” he adds.

The trio broke into all their saving accounts to buy the machine and equipment needed for the company. “Registering the company was quite a story,” Maharjan recalls. The registrar’s office did not have a category in which their company could fit in.

“We have a shoe-cleaning machine we imported,” says Chaudhary. “We get our polish, wax, and conditioners from India and the US”

“We have a shoe-cleaning machine we imported,” says Chaudhary. “We get our polish, wax, and conditioners from India and the US,” he explains. “Kathmandu’s roads are so dusty and muddy that the machine can’t generally clean the shoes. So we do it manually also,” he says.

When the company first started, the trio themselves would set about cleaning the shoes. But now they concentrate on managing the business and have hired two staffers to help out. Sherpa and Chaudhary are now in-charge of the marketing while Maharjan focuses on R&D.

“The company not only cleans shoes, but it also recolours them. “In the future, we also want to to repair leather and synthetic shoes,” says Maharjan.

At first, the company had planned not to entertain individual customers, but target fitness centres, hostels, clubs, and apartments: where the ‘lazy bones’ of the society live.

At first, the company had planned not to entertain individual customers, but target fitness centres, hostels, clubs, and apartments: where the ‘lazy bones’ of the society live. But as time went by, things changed, and now they have more walk-in customers than groups.

The best thing, the team recalls, is the word of mouth publicity that is helping their business. Form Nepalis to foreigners and diplomats, they are everyone is coming to get their shoes washed at Shoe Laundry. The company also sells laces for those who want their shoe cleaned and things changed. The company per day receives 20-25

The company now receives 20-25 pairs of shoes per day and charges Rs 100-250 for each pair.

We asked them, “If there Shoe Laundry did not take off, what would you be doing?”

The team answered,  in unison. They would have either continued their jobs or started a restaurant.

But they confident about their future. “Ten years from now, we want to serve the whole country and provide the best service possible.

When asked about the returns they are getting from their business, they say that they are not in the business for quick money. “Profits take time and whatever we have as profit, we invest it back into the company.”

“The biggest profit we have earned from the business is confidence to do anything and be satisfied with the work we do,” they conclude.


Published on April 7th, Friday, 2017 2:03 PM


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