In picture: one of the four founders of Ana Tomy and The Alphabet Press, Zeejay.
Ana Tomy, a unique brand that blends customization and sustainability, was born out of a need to create a sustainable business model. The founders, who were website developers running a paper pressing company called The Alphabet Press (TAP), sought to diversify their offerings and cater to a wider market.
As the founders of Ana Tomy yearned for a venture they could truly call their own, they embarked on the path of paper pressing and founded The Alphabet Press. While aware that this industry was relatively uncommon in Malaysia, their passion and determination propelled them forward. Investing in a paper pressing machine and sourcing paper from international suppliers, they laid the foundation for their business making business cards and invitations among other things. The start of The Alphabet Press paved the way for the birth of Ana Tomy.
To sustain their business and appeal to a broader audience, they needed to find a new avenue. Leveraging their expertise in paper pressing, they decided to introduce customizable notebooks. This idea aligned perfectly with their ongoing paper pressing operations and allowed them to participate in the People's Choice Award, a prestigious business competition held by BFM and Alliance Bank. Renamed Ana Tomy, the brand won the competition and received recognition for its sustainability and customization.
Ana Tomy's flagship product is its customizable notebook. Customers have the freedom to choose the cover, binding rings, cover band, page types, and even engrave their names on the notebook. The brand takes pride in using high-quality papers imported from Japan and America, ensuring a luxurious writing experience. Building on the success of their notebooks, Ana Tomy expanded into apparel, offering customizable tote bags and t-shirts. Customers can add patches and stickers to create personalized designs.
Initially, Ana Tomy operated through pop-up shops in bookstores like Kinokuniya, aiming to introduce the brand and generate awareness. Eventually, they recognized the importance of a physical store to provide customers with a hands-on experience of the customization process—a key differentiating factor for Ana Tomy. The brand celebrates both online and retail sales equally, emphasizing retail experience and convenience.
Ana Tomy endeavours to create a fun and luxurious experience for its customers while maintaining some sense of affordability. The brand's overarching concept revolves around making customers feel special through customization. The founders understood the importance of delivering a unique and enjoyable experience, combining quality products with personalized touches. By infusing their offerings with a sense of luxury and making them accessible to a wider audience, Ana Tomy has established itself as a go-to brand for individuals seeking customized stationery and apparel either for gifting or self-reward.
Reflecting on their journey, the founders of Ana Tomy offer valuable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. They emphasize the importance of knowing what you want and being passionate about it. Having a clear vision and passion for your chosen path makes it easier to make decisions and navigate the challenges that come with building a business. The founders encourage future generations to be confident in their aspirations and pursue them wholeheartedly.