A business blooms from passion for fine paper stationery

While helping her husband’s business which involves printing books for global markets, Foong Yin wanted to create their own special product, which they can claim to be their own brand, proudly made in Malaysia.

Her venture started with designer friends coming over to help with the company’s annual corporate planners.

Over the years, the passion for fine designs blossomed and today, we have the VIVE fine paper stationery range that are fully designed and made in Malaysia, with imported paper materials.

Business for VIVE, which has mostly been at selected and renowned retail outlets in the malls, is reviving but it needs more marketing exposure online.

Meanwhile, it is searching for overseas markets, and will hopefully be present in Singapore by year end.

With more focus on premium planners and journals, VIVE wants to help revive the love for writing among the young generation.

“With our tagline ‘VIVE creates and designs paper stationery with nature and you in mind,’ we are always looking to offer something different and unique.

“We are also exploring new ways to showcase our production capabilities through our designs,’’ said Foong Yin, a chartered certified accountant by profession.

From that inspiration to do something different, came the VIVE (vibrant, inspired, versatile and expressive) brand, for which its all-time best sellers are the annual and weekly activity planners.

These are all-time favourites that draw fans every year to the shops for their long awaited launches.

During the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, VIVE sales were down as physical shops were closed, but sales are improving as the malls reopen.

Hoping to achieve a 40% to 50% increase to the pre-MCO level of sales, the company has launched four ranges of new designs within two months, with eight to ten more launches scheduled before year end to meet demand during the year-end festivities.

Besides its flagship store at the Starling Mall, called Papeleria by VIVE, its products are sold at the stationery section of Kinokuniya, Times bookshops and selected Parkson outlets in Peninsula and East Malaysia.

As one of its ongoing missions is to help preserve the environment, VIVE is in talks with several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to initiate SHARITY – “Share a Gift for a Good Charity’ cause.

This is an effort that it hopes will draw much-needed attention to assist NGOs during these unprecedented times. 

“We will be going forward strongly with newer, and more purposeful and functional designs.

“This MCO period has been sort of a market consolidation, and we remain hopeful that we will continue to do well, if not better,’’ said Foong Yin.

She is aided by a team of dedicated comrades, and is appreciative of their support and commitment, as they have ‘walked through this journey with her.’

VIVE has just launched the ‘mermaid’ range of journals and weekly planners; as a follow-up from its brush lettering workshop, it launched, among others, its brush lettering practice pad.

Its ‘Journey Footprints’ year planners in 2017 had incorporated the collections of professional freelance photographer Michal Sikorski, whose recent exhibitions were themed ‘Deserts of the World and Rainforests.’

“With his permission, our ‘Journey Footprints’ used some of his desert photographs and we applied a special finishing effect to bring up the picture,’’ said Foong Yin.

Besides festive packets, other favourites include the ‘Creation Haven’ series of journals where customers can choose their favourite covers to be bound with their preferred inserts, with optional pockets and names stamped or embossed, for free.

VIVE has happy customers at its brush lettering workshops, where drawings or writings will be printed out on a tote bag, T-shirt or as a journal cover.

These brush lettering workshops are conducted every weekend and VIVE is constantly on the look-out for more enriching workshops to cater to a wider range of customers who are eager to learn, while having fun.

For Foong Yin, travelling overseas on family holidays has also become ‘soul searching’ visits for stationery products.

“Stationery products from Japan and Taiwan are a little more authentic and unique; they can be fashionable and funky too, and fine stationery that I can easily fall in love with,’’ said Foong Yin, who has three children aged between 17 and 20.

Her children have become her sources of inspiration and feedback when she is working on her next design; they also help her with her Instagram accounts, and share with her some of the tastes and preferences of young people.

With the drive for further success and passion for her brand, Foong Yin is looking at broadening the range of her products and services, and also the company’s reach into markets overseas.  

By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Story Teller, The Artisans Haven