“I have submitted my entry for Paris Fashion Week and hopefully I will make my way in the ramp,” she giggles. It is a tough competition because designers from around the world want to make their way in the Fashion’s Most Coveted Show. There are many criteria that need to be fulfilled and they don’t give preference to third world countries which adds up the weight. They have a very conservative perception towards us,” shares Ramila Nemkul, the CEO of KASA.
Living her dream, Ramila had always wanted to be a “businessman”. “My classmates used to laugh at me. We lived in a generation where our parents wanted us to be doctors and engineers, and thinking out of box was not a culture then.” She shares that when she meets my friends today, they smile and tell her that she achieved her dreams. “I have always been passionate about fashion since a young age. I used to hideaway and stitch clothes out of the curtains and bed sheets. I used to watch a program in NTV; it was a show on home science. I watched that show on a regular basis and also stitched bags for my family and relatives. To my surprise, even till this day they have that bag with them. I made all sorts of dresses for my sisters and all this was before I actually went for fashion design training. I am and was very ardent about fashion and this dedication led me to be the person I am to and helped me achieve what I wanted.”
Remember when we used to have two months break after SLC, and loved to laze around in the bed watching movies? For Ramila, it was more about polishing her skills. “My parents sent me to computer training classes but I used find my way out to go to the tailor for training. When your family background consists of all PHD degree holders, it is very clear that my family also wanted me to follow the same footstep. But I feel blessed to have supportive parents which helped me to complete my diploma from IEC College of Art and Fashion. They were one of the first schools in fashion design in Nepal. After my diploma I did my first internship in Chaahat Boutique and it was one of the place where I had immense growth. I also worked in my friends’ boutique as a Head Designer but since I had my plans of creating my own brand and I left the boutique after six months.”
It has become a trend for each of us to go abroad to pursue further studies. It was no different for Ramila, “I wanted to go to Japan for an intensive fashion course and also took language classes. But then again I felt I would rather work here and opened my first boutique, “Kavyaa”. In a span of one year, Kavyaa had built a pretty good reputation in the city. I wasn’t fully educated when I had opened Kavyaa and had limited knowledge. But I really wanted to do fashion marketing, which led me to do start fashion marketing in Nari magazine. As the response began to grow and the boutique was doing well, I wanted to continue my education in fashion designing,” she says.
When you are really committed to reach for the stars, they say even the universe aligns the entire path to fulfill your dreams. Ramila’s case was no ordinary. She received a full scholarship to do her undergraduates in International Business and Fashion Designing in Finland. After completing her studies, she got into internships and also completed various training. She explains, “Finland was a land of opportunities for me, a lot of doors opened. I must say that I am lucky that I didn’t have to struggle much in a foreign land and received immense support from my colleagues and work place.” Adding more she shares, “I gathered learning that I wouldn’t have experienced back in home. I got a taste of international market which eventually helped me to establish KASA. After I came back, I knew I had to do something. So I went to India and completed my Masters in Fashion Designing.” Like there’s a saying, home is where you heart is, no matter how far Ramila has traveled she eventually came back to Nepal and established the city’s leading formal and casual wear – KASA. She laughs and says, “The journey has been amazing. Receiving huge appreciation from clients at such a short period of time has boosted my confidence. When I came back from India, I knew I wanted to do big and maintain international standard in the fashion industry. Hence, KASA was born.”
It is not as easy to establish a business in Nepal they say, I mentioned. She gave me a smile and said, “Most of the people I have met say something similar. I am not blowing my own trumpet, but KASA is my fourth business, two chain restaurants in Finland and my first showroom Kavyaa. All of my business is still running and what I feel is that you have to be devoted towards your work. We open a business, the next day we expect profit to cash in. If the business isn’t stable for 2/3 months then people tend to be frustrated. We shouldn’t quit easily and establishing a stable business isn’t an overnight success. What we should also be clear about when establishing a business is that we have to be specific. One of the main reasons why businesses fail is because people have a tendency to copy. When you specialize a product, it is much easier to run a business and for the people too.”
Having set an example in the fashion world, Ramila has truly been an inspiration for new comers. “I get my inspiration from Steve Jobs,”she beams. “I have read his book a lot. His passion and dedication towards his work has made Apple one of the most loved brands in the world. I truly believe that all businessmen and entrepreneurs have has that zealous to make things happen. We lack learning process in Nepal. We look for immediate results, promotion and increase in salary. We don’t appreciate the platform that we are getting to grow personally and professionally.”
It is proof that in an industry where design can be overshadowed by glitz and glamour, Ramila's approach is refreshing - and it is that same resourceful realism that forms the foundation of her brand. “I have plans to establish KASA in Paris amongst the high-end fashion street. I want to make KASA an international brand, a store that sits next to Gucci and Louis Vuitton.