Store Interviews

lineae.co Interview

1. Can you introduce yourself and lineae.co?

It is said that some of the greatest influences that we have in life start when we are young. As a kid who grew up in multi-cultural Malaysia, I had the luck to have a fun childhood; and as a young adult living in Melbourne, the exposure to the cultural melting pot south of the planet. I like my work but I always had this pull to explore. So, working and saving to travel became something that defined my yearly plan. I have always loved trying new cuisines and discovering new restaurants but I am not a foodie. I love travel and blogged about it for a while but I am not a blogger. This site has nothing to do with either travel and food, both great loves of mine (ok, maybe there are some travel related things). As I journeyed through different countries, cities, communities, I enjoyed most the subtle discovery of culture and craft. Since I was young, I was always spending time in bookstores (they had them in those days) with their wall of books and shelves of stationery and pens! Besides the rainbow colours, I had my first introduction to paper with the “Paper by Weight” section in one of the local stores called Guardian Pharmacy, which was not just a pharmacy, obviously. Textures, thickness, colours and materials – these were fascinating and started a love for stationery that motivated me to create Līneae. On each of my trips now, I purchase a book in the local language of the place that usually gives you insight into the local culture. Often, I get recommended a book by a local who comes across me browsing books in what clearly is a foreign language to me. Līneae is the culmination of a drive to bring together, from around the world, items of uniqueness, beauty and usefulness to a single marketplace accessible to all. It is especially important to us to showcase smaller studios and artists that create beautiful stationery and instruments to a wider audience. In an age, where children aren’t taught letter writing in school and penmanship is a thing of the past, I want to bring to those aficionados a selection of some of those amazingly designed stationery that bring us a valuable part of our culture in the form of paper and pen. These brands that I have selected have a strong heritage and are also edgier brands that are driving new eco-friendly materials, design and evolving their products.

2. How was lineae.co born? How did you start?

The idea to create Līneae started off as a bit of a passion project. I was in a very busy phase of my life at the time, juggling full-time work and studies but also quite excited about spending time on something comparatively 'creative' and learning more about something I was interested in. Frustration with the lack of choices available in Malaysia (and other similar countries in the region), and the lack of awareness of all these beautiful products that someone put their heart and soul into designing and making brought my attention to this problem, and also very niche market. In my mind, pen and paper are such simple products that are often taken for granted. I also enjoy shopping and got hooked onto the idea of essentially shopping for other people and hoping they would like what I have selected - to me stationery isn't just a trend, it's timeless. Always a classic.   The name Līneae came about after a few months of coming up with ideas and tossing around names with a little "focus group" of people close to me. I wanted something minimalistic and simple but with meaning. Although the store is centred around stationery as products, the whole idea of it was to give the art of it the attention it deserved. By art, I mean the physical designs, drawings and illustrations, as well as craftmanship of the product. In all this, I saw a common thread - lines - straight lines, curves, and loops. Hence, the name Līneae, which is the latin word for 'lines'. Everything starts with a line of thought, an outline, a sketch, as did Līneae. While the name isn't quite so easy to pronounce, it certainly has meaning!   līnea /ˈlɪn.i.ə/ us /ˈlɪn.i.ə/ plural lineae / A line of thought; an outline, a sketch /   One fine day, with the full support of my best friend, who gave me my final "push" in going ahead with this (literally - she pushed the 'Pay Now' button to purchase the domain name), I took the first real steps to creating Līneae as it is today.

3. What makes lineae.co different? Can you explain your products with details?

There are a few key factors when it comes to choosing which brands to work with - I look at the quality of their product, their values and most important of all, their story. I love brands that tell a story of their creation, and their motivation for doing so. Some of the smaller studios I support are either founded by a single owner or small family run businesses who in turn support their local economies or collaborate with other social enterprises to help society. I try to work with brands that use responsibly sourced materials as much as possible and commit to ethical practices as well as those who drive development of eco-friendly materials and processes in their production. I do consider design as well, and while I love minimalist designs, I also love colour and designs influenced by culture, art and architecture. The brands that I have selected come from all around the world. From the UK, Līneae stocks products from Ola, a small but growing brand based in Bristol. Discovering Ola actually played a big part in inspiring me to create Līneae. Ola has a strong commitment to running a responsible business. They invest in recycled and sustainable materials, such as FSC certified paper, biodegradable alternatives to plastic, using waste from food production and vegetable based inks, or inks made from 100% recycled fibres. Ola's products are made at their studio where possible, otherwise, they work with local manufacturers and partner with family run businesses in their community, or other social enterprises. Ola's products favour the use of age-old processes - stitching in place of gluing and inks laid with a roller. Katie Leamon is another design led stationery brand from the UK. Named after Katie herself who designs all the products in her home studio, the finishing of their products take place in their family run production studio in Essex. Inspired by the warmth and satisfaction associated with receiving hand written correspondence, the brand is also committed to ethical practices with both ecological and social considerations made on all our products and aims to be plastic free in 2020. All Katie Leamon products are hand printed in their studio.  Born in Madrid, Walk With Me brand creates products focusing on simplicity, minimalism and utility. Balancing between fashion and functionality, Līneae offers a range of leather goods from their collection to complement your stationery storage and lifestyle needs. They work using recycled leather and natural latex to keep their products sustainable. Localism is at the core of their supply chain, allowing them to create an item from scratch in their in-store workshop just within a few days, and with minimal environmental impact. To achieve this, they eliminate unnecessary waste, create limited runs and repurpose materials as much as possible. Hailing from Taiwan, HMM stands for Human Mechanic Method. They create objects that not only aim to function well, but also strive to connect object design with the human form. HMM has a very minimalistic aesthetic and their stationery designs are very much architectural. This award winning brand uses a range of materials that complement their product design. Mark's Inc. on the other hand is a household name when it comes to modern Japanese stationery. Known for their bright colours and contemporary designs, this is a brand that has managed to find a home in many corners of our planet. Over in California, Iron Curtain Press designs, prints and hand assembles their products. Founded by Joel and Rosanna Kvernmo who share a love for office goods and stationery, all products are made on-site in their letterpress print shop! In Florida, we have Rifle Paper Co., founded by husband-wife team Nathan and Anna Bond. Heavily inspired by botanicals, their signature hand-painted illustrations and bold colour palette never fails to brighten up a space. The brand works with local printers in Florida and products are hand-assembled in their warehouse. [Maybe cut this paragraph] Kaweco, a household name when it comes to writing instruments needs no introduction. With a long heritage in making fountain pens, the brand has definitely made a name for itself in producing products of great quality and design. The Kaweco Sport line was created in the 1930s and remains a popular design till today. Although it has been around since 1889, Kaweco's history and the nostalgic design of its products are constantly evolving with with modern technology.

4. What reactions do you get from your clients? Do they love your products?

Yes, we work within a very niche market, so those who do buy from us love what they get! They're usually appreciators of the written work - think books, reading, writing - art and culture. They can also be sure that they're unlikely to find another store in the country selling the same thing they get from us, especially when it comes to our notebooks and pencils. On top of that, they clearly think we have an excellent customer service team, which we do, of course! Customer feedback: - Seeing your products on social media posts makes me smile! You have curated it all so beautifully. - Love the design and how it writes! - Appreciate your prompt response on this matter. Kudos to the customer service team ! - Thanks for being so prompt in resolving this issue. - So impressed at how fast you informed me, with clear alternatives. Love the 5 star attention to detail. - Keep up the fantastic service. I know where to get my stationery stash now! I will be sure to recommend to fellow stationery aficionados. - Everything is so lovely. I am really touched by your gesture. Thank you for taking my feedback in such good spirit. I will def be coming back to your webstore for more. - Thank you so much! You’ve made my day 😍

5. What are the advantages of lineae.co?

When you shop at Līneae, you know you're buying something that is special. We make more beautiful stationery available to people in the region, and hopefully introduce these small independent brands and studio products to people in other parts of the world where they are less known. In fact, many of these brands do not sell or ship to Malaysian customers, and many other countries in the South East Asian region. We aim to bring their products to our customers at a lower cost than they would if they had sourced them directly themselves as we help to reduce shipping costs. We are a store local to Malaysia, but we also ship internationally to overseas customers. We also believe in only selling quality goods, and by quality we mean products impeccably designed for form and function, using sustainable materials, through sustainable methods and processes. Designer stationery is of course not in the same price range as most mass produced stationery that you can find in any other stationery shop or department store, just as how you pay a premium for designer fashion as compared to fast fashion. But you do pay for what you get - quality also means more durability, and longer lasting products that reduce on waste. You will find that most designer stationery is not made in China (where labour is cheaper), unless they are actually designed there and originate from China. More often than not, they are made with sustainable and eco-friendly materials. They are also usually not mass produced, but made in small, limited batches and often involve other local businesses and craftsmen in the producer's area. Not to mention the original artist designs that often adorn these notebooks inside and out, as well as innovative structural designs for pens and other stationery products.

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