The intricate details cascading like a waterfall down the front cover of the blank notebook makes one instinctively want to run their fingers over it with sheer admiration. After all, nobody in their right mind could possibly pass up on a notebook with gorgeous motifs ranging from fruits to flowers adorning the first page.
For those who prefer a clean-looking pattern, there’s always the plain pastel coloured notebooks that evokes a sense of 555 notebook nostalgia—but only ten times better. Perhaps it is the fact that most people these days are attracted to Insta-worthy stationaries, but investing in a beautiful jaw-dropping notebook is increasingly common nowadays.
Just take a quick stroll along the lane of the Instagram hashtag #notebookcover, and it would be pretty evident that many are interested in quirky notebooks that speak volumes about itself, even before anything is penned within its empty pages nestled within. Malaysians aren’t one to miss out on the trend train as well and they can hop on board by supporting local homegrown brand, Pebble Paper Design.
More Than Just Notebooks
It’s hard not to go ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ when looking through the extensive designs for notebooks that they have readily available on their site. For those who fancy strawberries sprouting from the cover of their notebook or perhaps orange roses instead, the possibilities are endless.
If notebooks aren’t your kind of thing, Pebble Paper Designs crafts a myriad of other products which still bears their signature intricate designs. From greeting cards to even stick-on tattoos and phone cases, the ladies behind the brand have got their hands busy.
Enter into co-founders, Anni Tai and Rachel Chew’s world and it would probably be a floral wonderland. Both coming from a communication and design background, it was only apt that they put their skills to good use and illustrate designs for products that are used daily by many.
As the team of two puts it across through their website, “We aspire to work every step of the way to share and inspire others who share the same design sensibility in calligraphy, stationery and whimsical illustrations.” That is essentially what Pebble Paper Designs is all about.
Inspired By The Best
Inspired by great illustrators such as Ayang Chempaka, Janet Pogorelc and Darrell Kwong, both girls work together to bring the brand alive. Anni told Vulcan Post, “We both work on the designs using illustration softwares. Some illustrations are Rachel’s work and some are mine, but we always go through our work together, to make sure the colour combination and overall composure of the illustration is on-point.”
Before starting on each collection, the girls decide first on a theme and art direction that they would ultimately go with. Research will be conducted and they would source out some images over the Internet and then create a mood board (like all great artists do) which will guide them through to create illustrations that are aligned with the style that they have envisioned for their collection.
In fact, at times, the girls are amazed too by the results of their hard work. Anni conveyed this thought by saying, “We don’t always know how the illustrations would turn out in the end; sometimes we get surprised by how beautiful the end result turned out to be, and that’s a really fun and fulfilling experience for us as illustrators.”
Coming From Humble Beginnings
It all started back in May 2015 shortly after the girls had completed their university degree and internship programs. “The both of us were really attracted to the idea of a job that would allow us to have time flexibility in working hours and creative control in our design work,” said Anni.
That’s where they took an eventual leap of faith and decided to create Pebble Paper Design. It wasn’t an easy process by any means, but the pair did feel heaps of excitement and joy in the creation process. As for the name of the brand, it all comes from two words: pen and scribble, hence making the word ‘pebble’.
“We found this name to be suitable seeing that we are producing notebook products, because that’s what notebooks are used for, to scribble on with a pen,” Anni shared. To date, they have managed to reach out to many stationery lovers across social media, particularly Instagram, and thus far have amassed more than 15,000 followers.
As such, they also work on custom design request from the customers itself, be it for weddings, events, or even merchandise packaging. They are able to reach more customers as well by shipping internationally, and this was something that Pebble Paper Design leveraged on for their brand marketing. It’s a smart move for them and proves that being young entrepreneurs does not stop them from knowing the right cards to play for their startup.
Being Young And Passionate
As they are young both in age and in the business, Anni shares that there are tons of things that they had to pick up really quickly along the way in order to make Pebble Paper Design work. “It’s really about having the guts to give our ideas a try, then adjusting and learning along the way to realise that idea,” Anni said.
While some of their ideas don’t take off, some do show actual good results. Hence, they learn throughout the journey to do research, read, ask around, accept feedback from customers, observe and learn. This helps them to acquire better knowledge to continue on this journey.
Anni concluded with, “At the end of the day, it’s really about being open to learning and improving whenever you can and having faith in yourself to work on your ideas when you believe in it.” In their case, it was all about illustrating their ideas and ultimately breathing life into them.