This week’s brand highlight is Jamarko! Jamarko creates beautiful paper items, but that’s not all. A lot of their products are made from recycled paper which helps reduce the waste going into landfills. There’s nothing I love more than a company that takes something being thrown out and turns it into something unrecognizably beautiful. I got to chat with Kritica Lacoul Shrestha about the company which makes its items in Nepal. Check it out…
Tell me a little about yourself…
Hello! My name is Kritica Lacoul Shrestha, and I am the Executive Manager of Jamarko, a small business of handmade recycled paper products. I am a mother of a 6-year-old, who loves to join me at my office and play with paper and make crafts out of it. I joined my mother and aunt in the family business in 2010, and since then, I’ve been making paper crafts and managing the overall operations of the company. I like to travel to different places and explore local arts and crafts. I also love to spend my time with my son and watch him play, learn and grow.
What is your brand called and why is it named that?
Our brand is called “Jamarko”, which in Nepali means effort. It was my mother and aunt’s jamarko to start this business to contribute towards environmental conversation and provide employment to disadvantaged people, especially women. Jamarko is a small cottage paper recycling business that my mother and aunt started in 2001. Being women entrepreneurs in early 2000s was not common, and since they had to do everything from scratch – from learning about how to recycle paper themselves to training workers – I am very inspired and appreciative of all their efforts.
What does Jamarko make?
To put it simply, we recycle wastepaper and make new paper products out of them. We initially started making recycled paper and products out of it, but we later expanded to using Nepali Lokta paper to make our products. We also upcycle newspapers to create paper bags and pencils.
We create everything and anything that can be made from paper. From stationery items like files, folders, envelops, notebooks to other functional and decorative products like storage/gift boxes, business cards, wedding cards, lampshades, paper bags, photo frames, tea coasters, we make everything. One of our expertise is customizing products. We customize products as per our client’s needs. We’ve customized menus for hotels and restaurants, wedding cards for families, notepads, certificates and even upcycled newspaper pencils for various organizations and conferences.
For the first ten years of Jamarko, we provided all our products from our factory workspace, but since 2010, we opened an outlet store in Jhamsikhel to sell our products and provide a platform for various artisans to showcase and sell their products as well. So, in our store, one can find a range of handmade Nepali products like fuzzy and warm felt slippers, cute crochet-knit dolls, handcrafted soaps, trendy nettle bags, and of course, recycled and Lokta paper products.
What inspired your mother and aunt to start Jamarko?
Paper constitutes around 9% of total household waste in Kathmandu. Realizing the prospect of reusing and recycling paper, we decided to start a paper recycling company. We believe there is a great potential for the use of recycled paper and products, and more importantly, paper recycling, today, has become more of a necessity to conserve the limited natural resources that we have. In addition, starting a small business also meant providing employment opportunities, and we decided to focus on the disadvantaged population, especially women.
How are your items produced?
Paper making is labor-intensive work and our entire process of paper production to creating paper products is handmade. Our papers are recycled in Gokarna, Nepal and our paper products are made in our workshop at Galkopakha, Kathmandu.
The handmade paper making industry is an environmentally sustainable and socially responsible business. Our recycled paper is made from 100% post-consumer waste which is a sustainable low-cost resource for making new paper and products. The other paper that we use in our products is Lokta paper, which comes from a fast growing Lokta bush making it a sustainable and renewable source for paper making.
In addition to the environmental benefits of using recycled and Lokta paper, we provide skill building and employment opportunities to women and men including differently abled individuals and pay them a fair wage. Our sustainable practices address all aspects of our business operations and the full lifecycle of our products— the raw materials, production processes used, how workers are treated, how it gets to the consumer and finally, whether it can be recycled or not.
What makes your products special or unique?
When you buy Jamarko products, you are not just buying environmentally sustainable and socially responsible products but also supporting a women-led small business.
Jamarko’s paper products are made from 100% recycled post-consumer waste paper and Lokta paper that are made from sustainable tree-free sources.
All our products are handmade, so they have a certain uniqueness and character to it.
What is the price range of your items?
Everyone can find something at Jamarko depending upon how much they want to spend. We offer different range of products starting from Rs. 50 ($0.50 USD) for greeting cards to Rs. 9000 ($90 USD) for lampshades.
How many people do you currently employ in Nepal?
As the market demand of our products fluctuates, we can only support 5-6 employees at a given time. However, over the years, we have built our network of indirect employees who we hire on need basis. This includes 4 more employees. We as managers are 3 in numbers.
Where can people purchase your items?
Jamarko store: Jhamsikhel, Kathmandu (Hours: Sun- Fri 10:30 am – 6: 30 pm)
Jamarko office: Galkopakha, Kathmandu (Hours: Sun-Fri 10 am – 5 pm)
Our Website: www.jamarko.com.np
Etsy: Jamarko Handmade (coming soon)
Besides our own store and website, our products are also available at…
Bhav Products store: Nhoosa Marg, Kathmandu
What are your plans for your brand in the future?
We are always looking for inspiration for new designs and new products, and we bring out new products on a regular basis. We are soon opening our Etsy store (JamarkoHandmade) for customers based in North America. As for our store in Jhamsikhel, we love to promote local artisans and small businesses, so we also often look for these unique handicraft makers and sellers.
What is the best part of running your company?
Jamarko is close to my heart as I feel very proud to be continuing my family business legacy alongside my mother and aunt who started the company two decades ago. It is definitely a lot of hard work (and stress) to be running a small business, but I also enjoy the benefits of being my own boss. Every day, there’re new things to learn and challenges to overcome. As I reflect upon my decade-long experience until now, I feel very satisfied that not only I have been able to follow my passion and fulfill my aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur, but with Jamarko I have also been able to carry forward my family’s business that is environmentally sustainable and socially responsible.
Follow Jamarko on social media…
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your brand?
Jamarko is our collective effort to environmental conservation and sustainability, to support women workers, and to promote local artisans and local handicrafts, so please join in and support our effort. Jamarko is a member of the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal (WEAN) Multipurpose Co-operative, a Fair-Trade organization, so you can feel confident of the product you are buying is paying the maker a fair wage.
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Michelle Della Giovanna
Writer at Full Time Explorer
I’m just your average New Yorker who quit her job in the fashion industry to explore the world. Come find out what it’s like to trade in five-inch heels for squat toilets.