“DOCHAA” Embodying Identities with Every Footstep
Globalization is taking over the world, it’s the biggest thing around. That’s all you practically hear nowadays. Sure, that is all well and true, but that does not necessarily mean you need to be obsessed with the notion. There are many that prefer to embrace the capabilities of local production and capitalize on domestic resources. One such entity is Dochaa Shoes, an up and coming brand that has come into the limelight via their uniquely designed shoes that reflect Nepal’s culture and soul. We had a chance to sit down and chat with the three co-founders of Dochaa, Amuda Mishra, Watsal Rajbhandari, Dikesh Prajapati about their establishment. Incorporating Nepali art into the designs in their shoes, they are offering the best quality and unique print and they stand by their motto to ‘Embody Your Identity’. You can get your Dochaas at The Local Project Nepal situated in Evoke Café and Bistro, Jhamsikhel or order it online and have it delivered.
Here are the excerpts of our conversation.
TNM: WHAT INITIATED THE IDEA OF DOCHAA?
D: We all come from different backgrounds so we weren’t familiar with each other right at first. In fact, when we first met it was through the relief campaign we were volunteering in together; it was for an organization called Ujyalo Foundation. We were just hanging out one evening and were talking about the underappreciated Nepali artists and art.
Conversations were flowing and we were coming up with the appropriate ways that could reflect these talents in some way or a way we could endorse them. Coincidentally, all three of us were shoe fanatics and that instigated the idea of incorporating shoes and Nepali culture together.
The concept just seemed to click. We started investing a lot of our time for the required research to go forward to transform that idea into a venture. We had to come up with the name as well so we decided on Dochaa which simply means shoes in Sherpa language.
If the comfort of the shoes and the authentic Nepali designs could be embedded together we could be able to contribute towards the art sector in Nepal. That’s the story of how Dochaa started.
TNM: LIKE ANY OTHER BUSINESS, DOCHAA MAY HAVE HAD TO FACE SOME CHALLENGES ALONG THE WAY. WHAT WERE THEY AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME IT?
D: The production process can be a hassle, the market is very volatile and the limited variety of raw materials available is also very troublesome in case of the fabrics required for making shoes. Because of that we also had to halt the production for a little while, we started again when conditions were ideal. That was a big challenge. Also, we didn’t have any prior experience in this field, we were not related to this industry so we had to take a lot of time learning about what goes into doing what we are doing.
TNM: WHAT GOES INTO MAKING A PAIR OF DOCHAA SHOES? TELL US YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
D: First, we start with extensive research, while being sensitive towards what designs can go in the shoes because we need to be careful to not include designs that can be offensive in any way to place in the shoes. After examining that, we decide on a certain design, digitalize it, brainstorm and continuously improvise till we finalize the design.
We have been focusing more on the social media marketing, other than that we have not used other platforms for marketing. The basic idea is to help people understand that we have this brand and this represents something personal. Our brand reflects the core value of embodying our identities through the integration of Nepali culture.
TNM: WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE LIKE AFTER FIRST LAUNCHING DOCHAA IN THE MARKET? DID IT MATCH YOUR EXPECTATIONS?
D: The response has been overwhelming, to say the least. We were excited about how the public would react because we personally liked how the final product looked like. Till now the response has been positive. But we are still looking into aspects that we can improve on. This has been the first step for us and it has been a learning process. People were slightly skeptical about the price. I think it is also a mindset revolution that we are trying to bring by showing that Nepali products can be qualitative and can live up to a standard. We also want to create a brand value which can be relatable to other Nepali brands as well. It is not as simple as making a pair of shoes; it takes a lot of research, resources and patience to produce a pair of Dochaa Shoes. Nepali products have been famous in the international market as well but we want to meet that level in the fabric industry as well.
TNM: WHAT DOES DOCHAA REPRESENT?
D: If you tear apart a Dochaa it bleeds our culture, the work of artists that have remained unnoticed from different corners of our country. We want to create a brand value which can be relatable to other Nepali brands as well. It is not just buying a shoe, it takes a lot of research, resources and patience to produce a pair of Dochaa. Nepali products have been famous in the international market as well but we want to meet that level in the fabric industry as well. For a lot of people who are in different parts of Nepal, we, the whole Dochaa family, hope that we can represent the essence of all their cultures, arts, colors, and prints through Dochaa. Embodying our identity does not just mean referencing our history. Yes, it is there and will always be a subject of pride but we need to do it in the present as well. It may not go down in history but people who appreciate our culture will appreciate Dochaa and that is enough for us right now. These are small steps that help us grow as an economy.
WORDS:SHREYA SANGROULA | PHOTO:PRITAM CHHETRI