It may be only a piece of paper but it can also be so much more. Shri Bhushan Manandhar of Nepa Bhon is always exploring the possibilities and showing us that with Lokta paper, anything can be possible.
The showcase of Lokta paper made earrings, hanging elegantly under the incandescent light fixtures demandedmy attention. I stepped inside the small but
well-decorated (and later, winner of ‘Best Stall’) booth at the Nepal Handicraft Fair organized by the Federation of Handicraft Association of Nepal in November last year. This is how I met Shri Bhushan Manandhar, the artisan behind the earrings as well as the Managing Director of Nepa Bhon, a company that manufactures handmade paper, gifts and jewelry.
With an outlet in Philadelphia, USA and a manufacturing base in Teku, Kathmandu, Nepa Bhon has been around since 2000. The company deals with a wide array of Lokta products: from the more commonplace makes such as notebooks and photo albums to more exclusive wares such as jewelry and daily use items. The idea is to focus more on the now, however. “I study the current market and try to come up with products that will be of use in today’s time,” says Manandhar. “For example, I have stopped focusing on photo albums because in the world of computers and digital gadgets, they are of little use.”
Manandhar’s way of learning is a continuous process of market studying and web-surfing. “Ideas don’t come out of nowhere. When I see a thing I like in the market or on the internet, I try to create something similar but add my own modifications and twists to it,” shares Manandhar who’s always looking to diversify the Lokta paper and present it in previously unseen ways.
What gives Nepa Bhon its edge is its range of jewelry. They are neat paper accessories in bold colors and designs plus strong and water proof as well. Manandhar started making them only a few years ago out of a need to utilize the Lokta scrap paper that was left after using it for other products. “I didn’t want to throw away the remnants and I didn’t have the needed machinery for recycling either. So I started making beads out of the pieces through a method called quilling. Then came the necklaces, earrings and other accessories,” he says. Manandhar experiments and creates samples himself and then disseminates the skill to his employees.
There’s a good market for Lokta paper products because of their durability, strength and eco-friendliness. Manandhar is happy with business but his only complaint is that the Nepali market doesn’t place the markup value on Lokta goods that they deserve. Manandhar shares that he plans to open a showroom in Kathmandu soon.