Moving back to Kashmir for good after her education and some years of work in the United States, Sama Bég spotted a boy in Srinagar wearing a T-shirt on which 'I Love New York' was written. While in the US Bég had seen these kinds of T-shirts and other accessories with such inscriptions and messages people using fondly, she thought that why Kashmir cannot have something like this in Kashmir led to the conception of KoshurWear.
A clothing and accessories brand, KoshurWear aims showcasing Kashmiri identity and environmental messages through this popular medium.
"The whole mission about launching KoshurWear is to promote Kashmiri identity, the pride in being a Kashmiri and to promote local art and designs," says Bég.
A geriatric care and dementia expert, Bég is a healthcare consultant by profession and writes for a number of health magazines.
However, as she was very passionate about the idea, she started KoshurWear with the help of her siblings and a best friend, Adah Shair. "I saw many people promoting western culture. I did research. I started a focus group. I talked to family and formed a Whatsapp group and talked to my friends in the US too. I pitched the initial designs to them to get the feedback. Initially I started with the design 'I love Kashmir' and the other patriotic ones since I thought that these would be most appealing to people but soon I included funny phrases as well," says Bég.
"When I started there were so many different versions of design. Once the designs were finalized, I checked out with the vendors. I made sure the quality of material was good, the colours did not fade away and even had some people give me the feedback by sharing the sample product with them. When everything was ready we collectively decided and I launched the brand," says Bég.
There are various designs of the T-shirts and different colours too. The graphics for Kalle Kharab, Save The Hangul and the heart of 'My Heart Belongs to Kashmir' were created by the well-know Kashmiri cartoonist Mir Suhail.
The brand has become quite popular in short span of time as the sales are increasing day by day. Lots of people, especially youngsters are buying the T-shirts and bags which are tagged with the phrases like 'Kashmir', 'I love Kashmir', 'Save the Hangul', and many other funny phrases like, 'What the Tratth' and 'Kalle Kharab' etc.
"People are talking about this brand everywhere including the social media. The Facebook page KoshurWear has become popular too with many likes. People are seen taking selfies wearing the KoshurWear and posting them on social media.
"Almost hundred products have been sold in last week. There have been Kashmiri customers from all over India. I had one customer from Dubai who really wanted it in short deadline. I sent the T-shirt to him through his friend who was in Kashmir," said Bég.
Having got such a wonderful response, the brand plans to hold celebrations this month.
"A lot of people have sent me messages that they love the concept of KohurWear and that it is a great idea. They say that they finally have something like this to wear now," she added.
"If you roam around Pune, you will see lot of people wearing T-shirts which represents their culture. Kalle Kharab means extraordinary and this was something, which represented my culture. When I wear it, everyone, in Pune, would ask me what was written on my T-shirt and I would explain it to them," Syed Fuzial, a Kashmir living in Pune. "It gives them the idea of how Kashmiri phrases are like and they were impressed. The experience of having this T-shirt, the presentation, the delivery time and the material is excellent. I think everyone should buy one of these T-shirts."
Speaking about the mission of the brand, Bég says it has two parts. "The brand has a very defined mission. One is to promote Kashmir and local identity. Hopefully I will expand it to include Ladakh and Jammu. The other part is to promote art and graphic design. I want the people to know the importance of art in society. I also want to provide platform for various young artists whose works remain unnoticed. There are many talented artists in Kashmir. I wanted to have KoshurWear as a brand that supports those young artists to showcase their talent."
The brand also contributes a portion of its profit to various organizations with a social cause. "Apart from the other things, the thing that we are passionate about is to give back to society in some form. We give a portion of our sales profit of 'My heart belongs to Kashmir' T-shirt to the Skills Enhancement and Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) programme at Chinar Kashmir and that of 'Save the Hangul' towards the organization that works toward saving the Hangul," she added.