Today’s Telegram is a young lifestyle brand that brings out leather and eco-friendly fabrics, among other creative products, all the while essentially being a ‘writing’ brand. It has already reached around 10,000 consumers in and outside Nepal with its 101 different product lines based on pure leather and recycled fabric products.
Arsalan Akhter, the founder of Today’s Telegram, wanted to revive the 163-year-old telegram, one of the oldest and fastest methods of communication. “I realized that what we carry in our bags—from laptops and phones to notebooks and pens—are the modern day Telegram,” he says. “That essentially became ‘Today’s Telegram’ which can never get outdated.”
Akhter’s family business, United Tannery, has been producing pure leather in Nepal for more than 40 years now, and is one of the major exporters of leather products.
Following in his family’s footsteps, he created Today’s Telegram in 2017 to cater to the young people with an artistic bent. The company started with a dark-room photo exhibit named ‘Nepal in 60s’ to showcase their vintage designs.
Starting with bags, jackets, and belts at first, by the end of 2018, Telegram had started manufacturing Nepal’s first pure leather bean bags.
Arsalan Akhter, founder of Today’s Telegram
Then, they launched recycled and sustainable Nepali fabric products, making body wear using varieties of made-in-Nepal bamboo fabric, hemp fabric, and Allo fabric. They later transitioned to different styled bags, which are mostly exported. “As we know international customers are very much into it, we are intent on experimenting more on this theme,” Akhter says.
They also brought out a collection of local craftsmanship, represented through handmade leather wallets, purses, and key pouches. One reason for Telegram’s continued growth has been their ever-adapting catalog of designs and segments.
As manufactures, control over design and aesthetic is a huge plus for the brand. The leather by nature is artistic, Akhter says. Given that leather also gives maximum utility and functionality, they get the leverage to work more creatively on their designs.
“Leather is one of the most premium and playful natural fabrics to craft with,” he says, adding, “No two leather skins are the same and each has natural markings and blemishes that make the designs more exclusive—giving the product a vintage identity”.
In the Nepali market, 70 percent of Telegram’s customers are reportedly repetitive or referenced. As a manufacturer, leather quality is in their hands and the price is low as they don’t have to buy leather. “If someone buys a product, s/he keeps coming back,” Akhter adds.
Nepalis living outside the country are also attracted to these products. “Coming across Nepal-made products in a foreign land ignites a certain emotion,” says Akhter. “Nepali leather is quite famous and people tend to choose Nepali products due to their artistic and cultural value as well”.
Today’s Telegram have already exhibited and sold products in their first international stall at the Spring Fair in Birmingham, UK in February 2020, and are currently preparing for an International fair in the US. Moreover, they supply bulk orders to the UK, New Zealand, and Australia.
The company is also preparing for a release of their writing products through a pocketbook in the flash fiction genre. With an in-person shop at Pulchowk, Lalitpur, they have recently launched an e-commerce website too.