Tabiyo Shop is founded by Yen Fong and Lee Ming. Yen Fong is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Most of the time, she is in charge of order processing, packaging, photoshoots and other responsibilities for Tabiyo. On the other hand, Lee Ming (currently based in Hiroshima, Japan) is mainly in charge of backstage work such as writing descriptions, discovering and sharing new ideas and stationeries she encountered in Japan.
YF - Yen Fong
LM - Lee Ming
Tell us about yourself. What do you do for a living? What are your interests?
YF: I'm an interior designer, I have a full time job doing sales & design for a high-end kitchen imported from Germany.
My interests are all about design. I like to collect papers, reading books, travel, cafe hopping, looking and get in touch on nice quality products, and last but do not least searching for stationery items through travel, books, or internet.
LM: I work for 2 years, after I graduated from university back then. It just happened to me in the year of 2009 that I got the opportunity to study abroad in Japan and currently doing research which is related to food safety and hygiene. I'll be coming back to Malaysia soon after I graduated from my studies here in Japan.
My interests are traveling, foreign language, photography, sciences and meeting friends.
When did you start keeping a journal?
YF: I started my first diary when I was in primary school, I'm very active in doing leaflet design during my secondary school for various camp fire, events and etc.
My first expensive journal was Moleskin when I started to work at age of 21, where I enjoyed to record my daily schedule, activities and thoughts whenever I feel I wanted to. I enjoy reading my own handwriting.
LM: I started keeping a journal when I was a high school student.
How did you come across the Traveler's Notebook?
YF: Year 2012, my friend, Vivian handed me a book about journal (from Taiwan). From there, I discovered Midori Traveler's Notebook. I get Vivian to get a set for me during her trip to Tokyo at the same year. When I received it, I was so amazed by the leather cover and the paper quality!
LM: At first, I heard it from a friend. Then, I checked their website and I really like the concept about Traveler's Notebook with various inserts, accessories and refills, which make it much more handy. I feel inspired to do something new when I first received the notebook. I'm trying to bring it with me wherever I go, so when there's idea hitting me, I can jot it down right away together with some drawing or making a scrapbook.
Tell us the story behind the founding of Tabiyo Shop.
YF: Year 2011, I believe I needed a change in my daily routine, I need to fulfill my craving on good products and relationship with Japan therefore me and Lee Ming had a chat when she was back in Malaysia for holiday. Japan product is such a trap for us, we wanted to bring in something from Japan to sell in Malaysia, but what should we sell? We did not manage to conclude anything during that time, not until I started to use Midori Traveler's Notebook. I need to get refills for myself but there isn't any shop selling this. So, that's mark the beginning of Tabiyo Shop.
Did I tell you what is the meaning of "Tabiyo"? Tabiyo means "let's travel" in Japanese.
LM: There was a time, I was having a tea time with Yen Fong, and we talked about what we want to do in future. I think I said something like to open an online store which could provide something special which isn't available in Malaysia yet. During that time, she was thinking the same things as well. She took the initiative, send me an email and after some discussions, the online store formed in 2012. All things started from a very casual conversation and a whole lot of passion in both of us.
What is your next plan in life or in Tabiyo Shop?
YF: There will be a change for myself in 2014 (Let's keep it as a secret at the moment) and I'm so looking forward!
As for Tabiyo Shop, we need to standardize the corporate identity, packaging and we are searching for more good stuff coming in.
LM: Keep traveling to gain more international experience and bring more new elements into Tabiyo Shop.
What do you think you will be doing in the next 5 years?
YF: In the next 5 years, I believe me and my life partner will become a cafe owner in our serene hometown, definitely there will be a stationery corner selling our beloved Traveler's Notebook and others.
LM: I hope I could improved my foreign language skills good enough that I'm able to do some translation on some related things. I'd like to have more interaction with Tabiyo Shop's friends to share our thoughts and ideas, whether it's online or face-to-face to understand their needs to deliver a better service. And, I think I'll spend more time on Tabiyo Shop and try to bring in more interesting products.
Do you have a website or a blog? What encourages you to keep a journal on a physical notebook instead of a blog?
YF: I used to own a personal blog few years back when I was working in Singapore. I think a blog is a good platform where we can upload photos to complement text. In fact, I'm not that good in writing, but I enjoy doing cut and paste onto my notebook. I like the smell of paper, the feeling of holding a notebook in your hand is hard to describe.
LM: Yes, I have a blog. I started to keep a journal before I started a blog. Two things are different. Blog allows us to post more photos, share with others and allow comments, keep it as a digital memory. For me, keeping a journal is more private, every word written on the notebook is "alive", which reflects the very original form of emotion and feeling at that moment.
Can you share a few pages of your customisation in your notebook?
YF: Sure. This is what's in my Traveler's Notebook for daily usage.
LM: I always bring this along for each road trip.
What or who inspires you and the customisation on your journal?
YF: I got inspired by a Japanese lady who is based in LA with her family. She is doing online business selling stationery as well. She always inspired me by her passion on good products, her life with family, photos, and her enthusiasm on her shop.
Besides this, I always attracted by Japanese and Taiwanese notebook users, they have amazing skills on customization their notebook, and their beautiful handwriting. I usually admire their work through Instagram and blog.
LM: I think is Tabiyo Shop. Another way of saying, Yen Fong who inspires me to customize my journal. She has a good sense of customizing her journal.
What does 'travel' mean to you? And where will be your next destination?
YF: Travel gives me life inspiration and changes my perspective. I get inspired a lot from travel, from culture, lifestyle, urban life, people, villages and etc. From all my past travel influences, I made a decision to give up my job in Singapore and back to Malaysia for good, and I never regret doing that.
Oh, my next destination is Japan!
LM: Traveling is fun, I love backpacking. I found myself growing into a more diverse person through traveling. Traveling changed the way I judge a thing and person, also increased my acceptance level to everything. And, it makes me miss my home more! I wish to visit Spain someday.
Are you into photography (analogue/digital) as well? If you are into analogue cameras, which one is your favourite?
YF: Yes! My first analogue camera is Super Sampler! My favorite camera is Fisheye.
LM: Yes, I like taking photo. I'd love to have an analogue camera.
What's your take on doing things the analogue way in a digital era?
YF: I prefer things in simple ways. Why holding an e-book if you can enjoy holding a physical book with the smell of paper?
LM: We know that technology evolved day by day, helping us to ease the work at hand and to create something with better quality or a different aesthetic. Now, we have the choice, to choose either one or both (analogue or digital) to produce the best of the work and not about simply using the latest technology.
If there is no Internet in this world, what do you think you will be doing to replace the time you spend online each day?
YF: I will be spending more valuable time at home, cooking, reading, hanging out with myself or with my loved ones in a cozy cafe, doing journal and scrapbook!
LM: I think I'll have more time to do outdoors and reading!
Thank you for spending time on this! :)
What's in YF's Traveler's Notebook:
1- Traveler's Notebook Regular Size (Brown)
What's in LM's Traveler's Notebook:
Special thanks to Photo Crafts who took the initiative to have this idea for doing interviews with Traveler's Notebook users in Malaysia. We are proud to present 5 features for 5 consecutive weeks in the month of October & November. We hope you do get inspired by their story, and their enthusiasm for keeping a journal the analogue way.
Tabiyo Shop Pop-up Store is now available in Photo Crafts, Kota Damansara outlet.
Coming up next, Ziyad Maricar, The Business Coach