Life of a highly successful businesswoman from Nepal Gyani Shova Tuladhar

Entrepreneur, Fashion Designer, Celebrity, Philanthropist and Founder/Principal of one of the prestigious colleges of Fashion and Technology called Namuna College of Fashion Technology.

Let me introduce one of the most loved women in Nepal, Mrs. Gyani Shova Tuladhar. She has created a very successful business in Kathmandu, Nepal and I can also undoubtedly say that her college is so advanced and prestigious than many fashion colleges in Europe.

1. What has your journey been like?

My journey in the field of fashion has been eventful, challenging and fulfilling. It has been a pleasant and pleasurable experience for me as I’ve always enjoyed my work.

I started my career more than four decades ago when I established “Namuna Silai” in Khichapokhari, Newroad with only a scissor, a cutting board, a sewing machine and an iron at the time. I was committed to leaving an indelible mark in the industry by providing outstanding, innovative and personalized designing/tailoring services at a reasonable cost. Namuna Silai would go on to become one of Nepal’s oldest and famed designing/tailoring firm that has over the years catered to the general public, movie stars, socialites, high ranking diplomats/government officials and members of the former royal family.

After years of success with Namuna Silai, I then established VeshVusha Boutique in Bishalbazar during the early 80s. As someone who firmly believes in the power and beauty of sharing, I was inspired to share my professional knowledge and skill for the social and economic uplift of others. This is 1997 led to the establishment of Namuna Institute of Technology (NIT), most probably the country’s first professional training school to offer career and employment oriented crash courses in various aspects of fashion and clothing construction.

Over the year’s general interest in fashion designing as a career was peaking, yet students desired to pursue an academic degree in fashion design was left with no alternative but to join foreign colleges and universities abroad. In 2002, I then decided on the fruition of my lifelong dream by establishing Namuna College of Fashion Technology (NCFT), Nepal’s first Fashion College. The college introduced Nepal's first ever Bachelors course in Fashion through its Bachelor of Fashion Design (BFD) program of 3 years (6 Semesters) in 2002 in affiliation with Purbanchal University. In 2016, the college introduced Nepal’s first Bachelor's course in Fashion of 4 years (8 semesters) through its Bachelor of Fashion Design and Management (BFDM) program.

NCFT in now widely considered as the veritable pioneer and the pre-eminent name in fashion education in the country and the success/achievements of the college and its graduates over the years as entrepreneurs & career professionals in fashion has led to value addition to the industry and the human resource development of the nation.

2. Could you please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you become an entrepreneur in the first place?

A business owner is someone who in pursuit of his/her vision takes calculated risks and makes the best use of whatever resources are available to create or offer a sustainable product, service or experience that provides value to the society, while all the time was maintaining a high ethical standard.

I became an entrepreneur as I’ve always had a desire to use my skills, knowledge, and experiences to bring about positive changes that would contribute to the development of fashion in Nepal.

3. What or who has been your most considerable influence in business and why?

I try to learn from the success and failures of many businesspersons that I admire, but I do not have any particular person who I would say has been my most significant influence in business. I have my policies and work ethic that I follow.

4. What are the three things that are most important for a person to succeed?

1.    A clear vision of what and where you want to be in life

2.    Self-confidence backed by rigorous hard work, effort, and commitment towards the vision

3.    Ability to continually evolve and grow as an individual

5. What is the most significant lesson that you have learned since you started your company?

The most prominent lesson that I’ve learned since I started my businesses is that keeping your customers, employees and service providers happy is paramount to the success of any business.  

6. What advice would you give to young designers?

Fashion is an incredibly creative and exciting field and does have its share of glitz and glamour. However, I would also like to share that for success in this area you require a lot of creativity, patience, determination, hard work, discipline, and self-belief. You must also have an innate desire to learn and grow continually, both as a person and as a professional.  Please also understand that success, wealth and fame will not be achieved overnight. You’ll be able to make your mark only when you are prepared to pour every ounce of your being into this field that too every single day. Also, do not make a commitment that you cannot fulfill.

7. What is the best thing about what you do?

The best thing about what I do is the sense of independence and empowerment to not only make a decent living but also be able to create employment and give back to the society. Besides, it also offers ample opportunities to test me with new creative challenges and to chart out new horizons.

8. What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

The best advice that I follow in business is using the right resources in the right way to do the right things at the right time.

9. What sparked your interest in fashion?

Looking back, I believe that having a creative disposition and particular affinity to clothes even as a child was the spark that would eventually ignite my interest and career in fashion. I learned to stitch from my mother while in school and used to assist her and my elder brother in stitching clothes at night while also helping out at Juju Bhai Tailors during my leisure. Soon I started designing and sewing clothes of my own and those of my sisters and neighbors, earning recognition in my neighborhood as well as extra income to support my studies.

After completion of my Bachelor of Arts degree, Late Tulsi Meher Shrestha, a noted social worker of the time helped me gain an Indian Embassy scholarship to pursue a degree in fashion at Zarapkar Tailoring College, Bombay (now Zarapkar Fashion College, Mumbai) during the early 70s. My subsequent return on completion of degree would be the start of transforming my passion for fashion into a fulltime career.

10. What have been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?

During the initial days of “Namuna Silai,” I focused solely on word of mouth advertising by emphasizing on the quality, timely delivery of products and customer’s satisfaction, which led to tremendous word of mouth advertising by my initial customers. At the moment, I’ve been using a combination of different methods to market my businesses ranging from word of mouth, print, television, online and social media advertising/marketing. Currently, I feel that marketing and branding via the social media are becoming more and more important and effective due to its tremendous popularity and also because you can engage in target marketing, it’s cost-effective, and you can also receive immediate feedback. But, however at the end of the day, “Customer Satisfaction” is the most successful form of marketing.

11. What have one thing you learned as a businesswoman that has served you well over the years?

It’s been said that the only thing that is constant is change and the one thing that I’ve learned as a businesswoman that has served me well over the years is Adaptability. One must always try to understand and adapt to the changing tastes and choices of customers as well as to changes in other external factors that may affect one’s business.

12. What do you do for fun/relaxation?

•    Meditation and Yoga

•    Travelling

•    A rejuvenating Ayurvedic massage

•    Being around nature

13. Would you like to write a fashion book?

Yes, I have tried to write a few chapters on fashion and clothing construction in the past, but due to my poor health, I have not been able to complete it.

15. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Eleanor Roosevelt, a former First Lady of the USA, has said: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” I would like to share that my success is a result of my unconditional belief in the beauty of my dreams along with my positive attitude. I faced many challenges during my career, but I never lost hope. I would suggest readers to always have a positive attitude in life. I would go so far as to say that having a positive attitude while engaging in anything in life is almost like half the battle won.

Stella Maris Haefele
Fashion Journalist


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