As “makers of thoughtful stationery”, the founders of Mossery – Vivian Loh, Lim Jun Yuen and Tan Xin Wei – are individuals who still fall back on the simplicity of pen and paper.

Vivian was working in an advertising agency when she founded Mossery as a side project in 2011. It wasn’t until 2014 when she decided to go full time with the business and roped in Jun Yuen to oversee the e-commerce aspect of things. Xin Wei would eventually join the founding group in 2017.

Mossery

 

“As trained designers, we use a lot of sketchbooks and notebooks. When we first met up, we used a lot of notebooks during our brainstorming sessions. The first step of realising a thought will be in our notebooks and sketchbooks,” Jun Yuen says.

In their attempt to help people “think, express and plan better”, Mossery has expanded its initial products of planners, notebooks and sketchbooks, to those with different formats: undated planners, half-year planners, wirebound notebooks and threadbound notebooks (in which the same cover can be reused by refilling the content when the first notebook is filled up) – all of which customers may personalise by adding their names (in more than 80 languages) on the cover.

We chat with them to find out more about journalling:

 

What made you think starting an analogue-based initiative like Mossery would work in the digital age?

One of the “age old” arguments is how e-books are going to replace books eventually, but close to 20 years on since its inception, it hasn’t happened yet. After so many years, people are still using notebooks. It’s just something that’s very hard to replace, even after mankind has gone on to invent printing or typing machines, computers, and now, smartphones. Despite having so much technology on our hands, people – at least those who want to create, sketch, write… they’d still go back to the basics of picking out a notebook to write things down.

 

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Thank you, @poppy_nb, for such a beautiful photo of your Mossery Half-Year Planner + Notebook! Here’s what she loves about it: “I love this planner so much already, it’s so easy to organize and use 🤩 Thank you guys so much for creating the planner of our dreams. I’d gladly share my love of this planner to everyone so they can all get one for themselves 😂 This is the kind of planner that I want to use for the rest of my life. You guys should be so proud of this work, from design to delivery, everything was so impeccable.” – Thank you for your kind words! If you didn’t get the chance to pre-order your Half-Year Planner + Notebook, don’t worry, you can order it now on our website #LinkInBio

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For Mossery, we benefit from the advantage of technology by reaching out to more artists or creators to work with, or getting feedback from our customers in improving the product. However, we have found it beneficial to work with pen and paper, because it doesn’t bring distraction to you. It’s just you and your thoughts. It has also been proven scientifically, when we write things down, we commit what is written more to memory, as opposed to typing them out; the act of learning every stroke of the letters stimulates the mind and encourages creativity, as opposed to typing every letter with the same movement.

 

It’s not to say that we are against technology; ideas can be elaborated and expanded further with the convenience of technology these days. For us, it’s always a complementary to the digital life. We believe that Mossery serves a very specific purpose during the creativity stage: the beginning of a thought.

 

Tell us more about the collaborations that Mossery has worked with other artists for the cover designs of the notebooks.

Being in the customisation business, we have never believed in a one sure way of what people want. We believe that the spectrum in between will extend further and further, and hence, make Mossery available for different personalities out there. There are so many talented people out there that could potentially design something, relate to certain particular personalities, and hence, be available to the market to a certain group of people who truly believe in that one personality.

 

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✏️ A beautifully handwritten quote about travel, featuring our Pocket Notebook! – What’s your favourite travel quote?

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Our latest collaboration is with Maggie Chiang (a.k.a McMintea), who came up with two designs for our notebooks: Moon Lake and Night Wolf. Her illustrations emit a very calming and zen notion, and it fits well with how journaling brings tranquillity to one’s mind.

 

Is there a competition with much bigger and established brands like Moleskine, Traveler’s Notebook, Midori or Leuchtturm 1917?

When we look at established brands like Moleskine and Midori, we acknowledge that they make really good stuff, and people buy their notebooks because they support the high quality products. So, the only way to get the same loyalty and recognition from people is to aim for world class. If we were to look at our “competitors”, it is more to assimilate something world class that they are doing.

 

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💫 We were completely mesmerised by @moonchildillustrations’s drawings of little charming creatures—ideas of which she crowdsourced from her followers. We asked her what her creative process is normally like: “Most of the time my creative process is very spontaneous. I start with some doodles on the small pieces of paper that are the closest to me and if I see that it has potential to become a full coloured piece, I start developing it on better quality paper. But often, I just skip the sketching process and start working on my piece right away—it’s more fun and less stressful. I start with the character and after I’m pleased with how it looks, I start developing the background and its back story at the same time. Stories are a huge part of my process and no character is without it. My whole process is like a meditation. I put on some music that sparks my imagination the most and just go with the flow. I let my mind wander and lead my hand as I am working on my piece. This makes the process and results even more magical ✨”

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It may not necessarily be the end product or the designs, but rather the value that has been put into it along the way. Say, if Midori is working on cotton paper, we would contemplate if we should look into that as well. Midori also makes products that are really easy to use; in terms of value, it makes sense in our books, because universally, people want things that are easy to use.

 

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#MosseryCelebratingDifferences2019 Honesty by @kb.illustration – “While I understand the brief asked us to create an artwork based off of 2 characters with stark differences, I felt that it would be a good time to reflect on the fact differences aren’t always distinguishable via outside appearances. There are many instances where individuals are undergoing treatments, sickness, mental health journeys, transformations, etc that we can’t see. I think one thing to note that brings us all together, if we’re being honest with ourselves, is that we want to feel love, regardless of what we’re going through or what differences we may have. That’s how I interpreted my topic of honesty and celebrating differences.” 🌻🌱🌷 -
Here’s how you can join: 1️⃣ For every artwork, draw two distinctive characters (gender, culture, race, etc) sharing this value or interacting with each other through this value. 2️⃣ Share your artwork and include this hashtag – #MosseryCelebratingDifferences2019 3️⃣ Repeat for the rest of the prompt list! – 🎉This June, we’re celebrating authentic people by discovering beauty in the messy, intricate, and genuine features of the people around us.

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That’s how we view our “competitions”. If we were to compete with them in the most literal sense, it is something that’s going to go on forever and ever; it’s very taxing for us if we were to come up with something to counter whatever they are doing.

 

Would you say that journaling is a trend, or is it something that is going to last for a while longer?

The style of journaling could be a trend, because it’s a hobby that people have a lot in common globally, but we don’t think that the activity itself is a trend.

 

In the early days, people didn’t have brush pens or other amenities to make the kind of entries you see today. They might only have a pencil or a fountain pen, and would just scrawl down everything on a reporter’s notepad. But in essence, they still left behind entries that are till today exhibited in museums around the world. The styling itself to digital writing platforms, such as Blogger, WordPress and LiveJournal might change in the future, but the activity of it? It’s going to take quite a long while to die out, if it ever.

 

This feature first appeared in the print issue of Augustman June/July 2019.

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