Malaysian's journalling hobby leads to paper crafting business


Zeekaa says journalling is a community-driven lifestyle. Photos: MyPaperProjects

For as long as she could remember, Noor Zeekaa Mohd Adkaa had always kept a journal. And when she stumbled onto a journalling community online, the hobby took on a whole new lease of life.

The first thing that kept her occupied was sticker-making, followed by rubber stamps. In between, she developed an interest in notebook inserts and numerous other paper embellishments used for journalling or scrapbooking.

“At that time, I was determined to create my own stickers. I have hardly any skills in graphic design, but I slowly learned through YouTube tutorials and online courses. I made a few stickers for myself and my friends, before other people started getting interested. Then I opened an Etsy (a global online marketplace) store and made other items and tools that can be used for journalling, ” relates the 40-year-old.

Zeekaa's love for journalling led her down the path of stickers, rubber stamps and other craft embellishments.Zeekaa's love for journalling led her down the path of stickers, rubber stamps and other craft embellishments.During the early days of MyPaperProjects (www.mypaperprojects.com), Zeekaa’s hobby-turned-business was online only, with no retail space. She worked out of her husband’s two-storey studio, designing an assortment of crafting items.

But when it got too taxing to transport wood blocks up and down the stairs for the rubber stamps she was making, he suggested that she find a ground floor lot to work from.

A new place she eventually found in Shah Alam, Selangor, became her production studio, with the front of the room converted into a showroom and retail space. That is also where she hosts workshops, craft gatherings as well as journal jams, where people meet and journal together in a laid-back and crafty setting.

But this space has been closed since the movement control order (MCO) was enforced in March. They are still open for self-collections, but other than that, the only activity is production in the back room.

“No gatherings mean that we are no longer connecting to our customers on a personal level like we used to. Craft, and journalling in particular, is a very community-driven lifestyle, so it feels ‘empty’ that the shop is now closed. We are used to the workshop being the centre of all things creative and now we are mostly at the back, working in the studio, ” says Zeekaa.

MyPaperProjects started as an online endeavour about five years ago, but the physical store was opened only last year. With the MCO in March and the temporary closure of the space, she notes that it feels like being back to the early “online only” days of her business.

Zeekaa started her paper craft journey by making her own stickers.Zeekaa started her paper craft journey by making her own stickers.“No more open doors, no more hustle and bustle of people going in and out. But I have to say that I wouldn’t do it any other way now and our reopening will depend on the Covid-19 situation in the country, ” she says.

To adapt to the current situation, she has been sending out wholesale newsletters in an effort to reach out to potential buyers and to boost online sales.

She is also looking forward to the next time she can organise another paper craft market and get to meet and mingle with like-minded journalling folks again.

“We have had three successful instalments of Conteng Conteng under our belt, with the last one held in April last year. Conteng Conteng is a craft market mainly for the paper crafting community. We were supposed to have another one this year, but we have decided to postpone it, ” she says.

In the meantime, Zeekaa is counting the days until she can return to the good ol’ days of doing things.

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