KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — I love using beautifully-designed stationery. Who doesn’t? There is something about turning the pages of a well-designed daily planner covered with adorable illustrated pugs or a notebook with ombre shades of blue and pink.
Malaysian label Mossery hits the nail on its head with its beautiful range of notebooks, planners, greeting cards and other paper products. Their distinctive quality gives the impression that they are made abroad, since the founders are dedicated to making sure each item has a lot of thought and care put into it.
You may not have heard of this label because earlier on, it wasn’t widely available. Previously only found on Etsy, smaller shops like Pipit Zakka Store and bazaars around the Klang Valley and Singapore, it’s only this year that the partners of Mossery started selling at bigger stockists such as DESIGNation and Kinokuniya.
Mossery started out four years ago when graphic design students Vivian Loh and Chang Wai Lam began to design notebooks as a pet project. Chang is also a printer while Loh handles the illustrations for the paper products. “Wai Lam was my junior at Saito College. Mossery is the result of us combining the things we do well,” said Loh. The name Mossery was chosen because Loh loves Nature and greenery. “It’s the idea of moss and stationery. You can do anything with a meaningless word!” said Lim.
Inspired by Nature, animals and fashion, Loh illustrates on paper first before scanning the illustration into the computer. She also uses a Wacom tablet to help her with her illustrations. Her designs feature adorable sketches of pugs, birds, cats and even foxes. Some of the animal characters even have names, like the pompous-sounding Rich Uncle Pennypugs, which was dreamt up by Loh for their animal portrait notebooks released last year. This August, the popular American website BuzzFeed even listed Mossery’s pugs-covered notebook, as one of the insanely cute items, one should buy.
About a year and a half ago, fellow graphic designer Jun Lim joined Mossery to help out with the business and marketing side of things. Now, Lim and Loh work full-time for Mossery, while Chang works on a part-time basis.
As part of his role, Lim rebranded Mossery by creating a new logo and came up with a new style for the Mossery products. Previously, their logo featured a chameleon. Now it’s the Chinese character for forest, 森, which symbolises Mossery’s promise to Mother Earth. “It’s our commitment to be responsible to the environment and as a reminder of our values to pay back to society and Nature,” explained Loh.
As an evolution of the brand, Mossery also started doing more graphic covers depicting dots, lines and shapes. Loh adds that this type of stationery is targeted towards working women who seek sophistication yet have a sense of uniqueness and character. The new style of Mossery’s products also emphasise the whole look and feel. “It’s the experience when people turn the pages, the smell of the paper, or how the writing instrument makes a mark on the paper,” said Loh.
Paper quality is an important element of the Mossery experience. “We use a lot of notebooks and planners. As part of our jobs we do a lot of sketches. We are familiar with paper. Also, the paper we use for Mossery is better for ink pens as it does not stain the underside,” said Loh.
Keeping to their ethos of protecting the forest, sustainability is incredibly important to them. “Our paper is FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) meaning it is sustainably harvested and of a certain quality,” said Lim. The top grade paper is imported from Sweden and the US. The only downside to this decision to become a sustainable label means the Mossery notebooks are not as affordable as other local brands. Pricing-wise, you can get a Mossery item from RM9.50 for a greeting card to RM65 for a planner.
Mossery also places an emphasis on every little detail of their product. They tightly monitor the whole process from printing, binding, cutting to packaging. That dedication means every Mossery product is of high quality, which many of their customers can attest to, if you read the multiple positive reviews on Etsy.
Late last year, Lim opened their distribution channels, making orders easier. Since last October, the Mossery team decided to go big. “We want to design products to be exportable,” said Lim. Customers from the US, Europe and Australia have purchased Mossery products.
Every year, Loh will unveil a new collection which is based on different ideas. For 2016, fans of Mossery can look forward to 50 new designs released every six months. The company also hopes to collaborate with different brands. To date, their 2016 planner has 21 different cover designs. Mossery also has greeting cards that are mostly birthday and Christmas cards.
“We make what people want. We also want to experiment with our business model and experiment with more products,” said Lim on their upcoming plans. Although Mossery is available internationally through Etsy, the team aims to stock through big retailers overseas. They were in talks with a retailer in Australia recently. To promote the brand overseas, the team also visited the Public Garden Consumer Trade Show in Singapore.
“Our designs are enjoyed by office women as that target market is our biggest customer base. So we think of styles that would suit them. Vivian would draw illustrations that are cute but also sophisticated such as the diamond shapes which are more fashion-oriented,” said Lim.
Even though their current customers are working women and young adults, the team is also working towards making products for students as well. “Our attitude is to design products that we use,” said Lim. “We know that sometimes running a business or a project can be tough so we write down notes and jot down our thoughts. By putting down our ideas, we can clear our mind,” said Loh on the importance of having a notebook or a planner.
To ensure that Mossery designs stay relevant to their customers, they try to get feedback and incorporate it in their designs. “We got a lot of requests asking for different types of paper. So people get to choose what kinds of cover they want and from there choose from five types of text paper,” said Loh.
The coolest part about Mossery planners is its bespoke service. For an addition of RM12, you can customise your Mossery purchase with your own name. This gives the planner a personal touch which is very significant, especially if you want to gift it. Mossery also does paper products for weddings such as invitations and personalised door gifts.
In a digital age where smartphones often replace planners, Loh and Lim are not worried because they feel that people still rely on physical planners. “It may be a niche market but there is definitely a market for it,” said Loh.