Turning into the little road known as China Street in Kuching, the first thing you hear is a metallic clanking sound. The sound conti...
Mossery: Putting the Fun into Functional Stationery
Many people think that the digital age has put an end to pen and paper. But here’s a homegrown brand that's proving that well-designed, desireable stationery is very much alive and well.
In this day and age where the multi-functional smartphone is practically a virtual “Swiss army knife”, most people would question the need for pen and paper anymore, a fitting reason to speak to those behind the eye-catching stationery label: Mossery.
Mossery started in 2011 as a class project by friends Vivian Loh and Chang Wai Lam, who were both studying graphic design at Saito College.
“Vivian explored a lot of online businesses because she realised she can make something and then just sell it online,” explained Jun Lim, who joined the duo in 2014 when Wai Lam took a back seat to focus on his family’s printing business. “It was a really small, part-time side gig.”
Only after Jun’s entry into the business did the team go into building the brand full time.
But why “Mossery"?
“Because Vivian likes moss forests. And “stationery”... hence “moss-ery.” There’s a ring to it. It doesn’t really mean anything,” Jun explains.
While the team currently produces one collection a year, each carefully thought through - they include notebooks, planners and greeting cards, and are the result of three to six months of research. This level of focus enables the brand to present a cohesive, clear identity and aesthetic. The team describes their general look and feel as Scandinavian, with inspiration from Japanese minimalism.
Ultimately, it’s about staying true to Mossery’s mission, which is “to help people organise their thoughts… (and) to help people make it count by writing it down,” says Jun. “We believe that people who use stationery or planners for their projects will try to do a good job in what they do.”
Vivian shares that the paper used to make their planners and notebooks are “FSC Certified paper, which means it’s been sustainably harvested. Even our logo is the sign of pine trees. It’s actually the Chinese character for ‘forest’, modified to look modern.”
The Mossery team doesn’t have things easy, of course. “Now a lot of people are using phones to record, and some of them do their writing and planning on the phone as well,” says Vivian. “We try to educate them to use paper because it really helps you to think.”
Jun chimes, “The technological part is a definitely a challenge. The second challenge is manufacturing, because businesses here aren’t competitive enough. They just want to compete with price, meaning that they compromise in quality
In fact, the duo were slightly late to this interview because they were in the factory, checking the cover and binding of a batch of products. “We try to do it by ourselves because sometimes printers can’t deliver, so we need to go there, to supervise and to teach them how to do it,” says Vivian.
With all this care and effort that the Mossery team puts into design and the production process, do people use the products in interesting ways? “Some use the planner as a sketch book. A fashion designer stuck fabric in a Mossery planner, so it became a collage of her work or moodboard,” says Vivian. “A barista in Bandung uses our pocket notebook to track how many cups of coffee he makes,” adds Jun.
The Mossery team does not just use in-house creativity. A recent collaboration is proof of this. In 2014, Mossery collaborated with 18-year-old Avinindita Nura from Bandung, Indonesia, after spotting her doodles on Instagram. The team got in touch with Avinindita via email and got the ball rolling. “She sent us her ideas and we chose ideas that would work. Dita then sketched it, scanned it and then we finished it on our side,” explains Vivian. The end result is the Dita Series Pocket Notebooks which feature three different artworks named School Kids, Daily Life and Dance Floor.
With an increasingly popular and expanding line of products that are available online or in selected bookstores, one wonders if Mossery has ambitions for a brick-and-mortar shop of their own. “We are currently looking for a space,” answers Vivian.
Yet Jun is quick to add that having a space is secondary to having a classic core product that can be sold even decades from now, hinting yet again at the attention to detail that marks the Mossery range.
“I feel like every company should always be in research and development because they need to explore new technology so that it inspires new products,” he explains. “In the short time we have been around, we want to refine our core product, which is paper. Whatever’s on your office desk, we would like to improve that.”
And while the Mossery label continues to grow and be shipped beyond Malaysian shores - currently available in the US, the UK, Prague and Australia - the team holds firm to the idea that ultimately what makes or breaks a brand is the delivery of a solid product or service.
“After coming out with a core product, we need to maximise our distribution,” shares Jun. “Perfect one product first, and then move on to the next idea. We dream of having our own studio. And probably a part of the studio is a gallery while another is a bed & breakfast.”
In the meantime, the team is busy promoting their planners, which come with an instructional booklet filled with tips, guides and usage examples. A big plus point for customers is opting to get a name embossed on the cover of the planner!
For more information on products and customised services, visit Mossery.co.
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