Prasanna Basnet: Cotton Mill (Natural Fabric Accessories)

Few months back I read an article on businesses run by sisters. It left me wondering - how on earth can you become partners with your own sibling?

Few months back I read an article on businesses run by sisters. It left me wondering – how on earth can you become partners with your own sibling? Prasanna Basnet on the other hand didn’t entertain any doubts when she and her sister Priyanka decided to start a company – Cotton Mill – together. The store which sells cotton blankets, shopping bags, cushion covers, bed covers and bed sheets is located near the Ganesh temple at Kamal Pokhari.

The beginning

Prasanna stresses on the fact that the thought of ‘starting her own business’ had been on her mind for a long time. Amidst chaos and confusion, the one thing she was sure about was that she wanted to do something with a Nepali stamp on it. Things started falling into place slowly and Cotton Mill happened.

Lessons learned

1. Making rounds of government offices suck?the energy out of you. “I don’t know for other female entrepreneurs or men, but I had some pretty nasty experiences dealing with male government staff. They just don’t take you seriously.”

2. Come what may, you have to strike a balance between family and business. That at times gets pretty difficult since Prasanna has a 3-month old baby. “For the next 3 months, I plan?to work only half day. My partner has been helping me cope with work with our manufacturing unit and the store and my husband helps me at home.”

3. Problems are a part of being an entrepreneur. They knock at your door every second day, but each problem comes with an opportunity too and one needs to capitalize on that. When they started Cotton Mill’s in-house hand printing facility, they hired two male printers. They were expensive and the duo could not sustain them. “They left us at some point, leaving us in a fix. For hand printing one has to be technically sound and needs to have a lot of practice. Without printers, Cotton Mill wouldn’t run and hand printers are not easily available. Finally we decided to hire two ladies, we trained them for a few months, made them practice vigorously and now although they are not perfect, they do a great job and they are easier to work with.”

Future Plans

Cotton Mill was started with an intention to cater to the Nepali market. “Our prices are very reasonable. But in the last one year, we have had so many demands from Nepalese living abroad and also foreigners who have lived in Nepal and gone back, to start exporting our product, I think that will be our next step.”

It’s not always an easy ride

The main disadvantage of being an entrepreneur according to Prasanna is that you don’t get a fat salary at the end of each month. “In the initial phase, you are more worried about making payments rather than taking a salary.”

The perks of being your own boss

I can arrange my own working time. I can be as creative as I want. I can take my daughter to work according to my comfort and hers; the list goes on.

  1. yvonne bullen says:

    Hello,
    I am in Nepal and would love to visit your mill….Please can you send me contact details?
    I am currently in Kathmandu until Friday…
    I am very interested in seeing your products before I go home..

    All the best
    Yvonne

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