But competition was stiff, he had few customers and he did not have access to raw materials. He struggled to keep his business afloat. His parents insisted that he close down the shop, and migrate to the Gulf for a more stable salary, like many of his peers.
“Everyone was asking me to close down my company, but that just increased my determination to keep going. I believed that I could make the business of paper handicrafts a success,” recalls Dil.
So, he headed back to his village in Dolakha to collect wild lichen, pipal leaves, and lokta pulp to create handmade greeting cards. Back in Kathmandu, he went door to door, from one shop to the next, walking and cycling all over Kathmandu with his products. Even after being rudely rejected often, he did not lose heart and gradually managed to find loyal customers.
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He slowly diversified his products and started making lamp shades, small boxes, pouches – all made from lokta. Before long, the original designs started bringing in orders from wholesalers, hotels, restaurants, schools. He started a small outlet in Dhobighat which became popular. As business picked up, he hired 16 fulltime staff and also involved another 150 painters, flower and other suppliers.