Stickerrific + Szetoo Weiwen

SHOP
Stickerrific
A place to paint, journal, and play with cats.

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“A lot of people call this place stationery hell,” one-half of Stickerrific owners, Szetoo, said regarding the store’s aesthetic. And we could see why — an entire store stocked with anything from paintings to writing instruments such as calligraphy tools and brass stationery, not to mention an impressive collection of Japanese Washi tapes. It’s a test of willpower for both stationery aficionados and hoarders! Our bet is that everybody fails because even we ended up buying a couple of things before leaving… and we’re not even remotely artistic when we journal.

Besides enabling people to spend money on stuff that seem extraneous to the less artistically inclined, Stickerrific conducts three-hour workshops for watercolouring, calligraphy, and rubber-stamp carving. In addition to teaching their customers-cum-students a couple of new techniques during these sessions, the founders’ objective is to give their students a first-hand experience on the obstacles artists in the respective mediums endure to create their art, which in turn will help them appreciate craftsmanship even further. These classes are priced at a reasonable range of RM120 to RM280 — the fee includes tools, refreshments, and part of it goes towards expanding the store’s public library with books sourced from Japan.

Stickerrific also shares their space with three shorthaired cats named Chewy, Luke and Leia. Their love for animals goes beyond caring for their own adopted cats as proceeds made from sales of the store’s consignment items go to care for stray animals — from getting them neutered to paying for their vet’s bills and buying them food — around Jaya One. Besides their animal treatment initiative, Stickerrific also has an on-going donation project for people to leave any unused stationery — like planners and calendars banks often force us to take — at the store so that it can be sent to orphanages. On top of that, the owners are also doing a charity drive to raise money for bringing some kids to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Ask yourself, what would Han Solo do? Contribute, obviously. Although perhaps reluctantly at first before growing more endearing.

Check out the store through our photos below:

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More photos below:

Stickerrific is located at No. 83-1.2, First Floor, The Square, Jaya One, No. 72A, Jalan Universiti, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Opening hours are 12pm — 7pm, every Tuesday to Sunday. 

T: 03 7495 5963
E: stickerrific@gmail.com

OWNER
Szetoo Weiwen
Crazy stationery lady 

SZETOO (1)

When Stickeriffic first opened, their ladyboss based her decision to stock products using personal interests. Her logic being in the event of their items not selling, she could always use them for herself. She has since changed her business plan — thankfully or there’d be more cat-related items, for sure — and focuses instead on curating products specifically for journaling. Szetoo is a Broadcasting graduate who was a wedding photographer that ran her own studio for a few years alongside her husband but unfortunately, she had to give it up for multiple reasons. The most prominent being accepting the harsh reality of paying expensive rent and running a business for a niche market like photography. All is not lost as the silver lining of this closed chapter was their opening a stationery shop in the studio’s neighbouring building. A far more interesting business venture, we must say, enough that we spoke to Szetoo about creating a community centre, Malaysian consumers, and the importance of physical documentation.

Was owning a stationery shop part of your career plan?
Not really. We failed three to four different businesses prior to starting this one. We had a photography studio, we did content management and publishing. I was previously an editor for an online portal and wrote for an expat magazine. 

Oh wow, that’s a lot on your résumé. Why didn’t they work out?
The photography studio wasn’t doing too great because the market wasn’t there. Our rent for the studio’s space [at The School] was too expensive to maintain as well. Editorial wise, we wrote for the expat magazine about two years ago, and it was fully funded. The contract got cancelled, so it was a little tough for us. The economy wasn’t too great either so we decided to let it go, and we had to take our business partner into account at the same time. When you do things with people that are hard to trust, the business doesn’t usually end up promising. 

But thankfully this store is doing alright so far!
This one somehow worked out (laughs). You have to fail a few times so you know what to do. 

How long has Stickerrific been in motion?
I created the Instagram account in March last year but we only started bringing in proper products in September ’14, but even then it was only a table’s worth of stock. After finishing our lease at The School, we took whatever savings we had and put them into this place. I consider the business to have only started properly in January this year. 

Ah, so it’s quite recent. What’s the difference between your shop in comparison to other stationery shops?
Well, we are trying to build a community here. We host workshops, gatherings, and we have a café so we do our best to give back to our customers. Recently, we’ve received a lot of postcards from them, thanking us for getting them into journaling because they’re starting to appreciate the little things more.

Because they’re documenting what they do everyday?
Yeah, they have something to look back on and they see the smaller details in their lives. Journaling is lovely to do by yourself but some people will get bored, so we’re hoping to connect people through our shop so they have ideas to exchange [with one another] and what not. I know a lot of people argue that in the age of technology, we have our phones to document our lives since everything can be saved using our gadgets but let’s say [if] that disappears… 

Yikes.
There’s nothing tangible or physical to hold on to. I see a lot of people attempt to journal and try to create something nice just so they can post a photo of it after. It’s instant gratification but if it encourages them to try something new, that’s great.

Going back to the classes you host. What’s the reception been like?
It’s been a full-house so far! We’ve had people from Penang, Melaka, Johor attend it. And recently we’ve had people from East Malaysia inquire about our class schedule for 2016 because they’d like to plan in advance to come over to KL for a weekend to join one. 

That’s pretty awesome for a business that started early this year.
People who shop here constantly ask us how to use the tools or how to gain certain skills so we decided it’d be easier to conduct a class to explain it to those that are interested. Some people are willing to spend money on tools but if you don’t spend time learning the technique, there’s no point. Sometimes a person may have the technique, so purchasing expensive tools doesn’t matter because they can get the same results as someone who’s been at it for years. 

This is a full-time job for you and your husband. You guys only close once a week but even then we’re sure you’re completing paperwork on your ‘off day’.
Yes! We close our store at 7pm but we’re here until 10pm because we have to jot down our stock and pack up. There are a lot of small tasks that people don’t realise we have to do. Like, updating the online system, our social media platforms, remember to eat — cos I’m the type that forgets to eat — and get enough rest to wake up at 7am the next day. 

Holy crap. Do you ever have time for yourself to reenergise? Besides sleeping.
After I finish replying emails every morning, I try to paint before work. I feel like if I’ve been able to do this one thing for myself, I can dedicate the rest of the day to other people. We may not be encouraging people to do great things here, but we are hoping to teach Malaysians how to appreciate the little things. 

Such as?
A lot of people who check out the store for the first time see our postcards and immediately look at the cost rather than the workmanship. They’d comment on how cheap the paper looks and question why it’s priced at what it is without realising that the money is based on the 20,000 hours of failed art practices the artist took to get to this point of selling the work, to the money the artist themselves spent to hone these skills and materials.

That seems to be the biggest ‘problem’ in our market — the lack of education regarding appreciating craftsmanship and the “if it’s made locally, it should be cheap” mentality.
Exactly. I realised during workshops that people realise slowly [but surely] how difficult it is to craft things using your own hands because they have a first hand experience of doing things they may assume to be easy to do. 

Owning your own business sounds like a lot of physical and mental exhaustion. Do you ever question your decision to run your own store?
Sometimes it can get overwhelming — rude customers, long hours — but I remember that other people have it tougher than we do. How many people are able to do something that they’re passionate about, get to have their pets in their office, and have customers that bring them food and drinks because they know we get really swamped with work?

Your customers do that for you?!
Yeah, how many customers do that? All in all, it is trying but it is definitely worth it. 

Man, our readers should learn a thing or two from your customers. Hint hint, JUICE readers! We like pizza. With lots of cheese. 

www.stickerrific-store.com
www.instagram.com/stickerrific