STARTING A NEW CHAPTER
Custom bookbinding atelier Bynd Artisan has found success in the digital age by offering artisanal products that evoke nostalgia
Brand Owners 品牌舵主
Husband-and-wife team of James Quan, 49, and Winnie Chan, mid-40s. Bynd Artisan创办人关卫贤和曾薇薇
Brand Story 品牌故事
By rebooting her family’s 72-year-old stationery and bookbinding business, Chan has pulled off a retail coup. The third-generation heir to Grandluxe set up custom bookbinding atelier Bynd Artisan with her husband in 2014, even as bookstores and stationery shops floundered in the digital age.
By offering personalised notebooks and leather crafts that showcase the brand’s Asian roots and heritage, Bynd Artisan has tapped into a growing demand for artisanal products with a whiff of nostalgia.
The couple also retrained older production-line staff and turned them into craftsmen who now conduct bookbinding workshops at Bynd Artisan.
Bynd Artisan’s offerings include leather products such as card holders, key fobs and luggage tags. It also works with local designers and artists to produce items such as apparel and clutch bags.
The brand’s ability to reinvent itself was a success story cited by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at this year’s May Day Rally speech.
“Our collaborators spur us on to design products that are outside our areas of specialisation. This also ensures that our team and customers remain excited about our brand.” — Winnie Chan
Secret To Success 成功秘诀
The brand’s heritage has been a unique selling point. Initially, the founders thought of pitching the company as a foreign label and then launching it here after succeeding overseas.
But a friend advised them to showcase the brand provenance instead, including its craftsmen and workshop tradition. Grandluxe had registered as a bookbinding workshop called Goy Liang Book-Making Company along Mohamed Sultan Road in 1947.
“The brand is built on a foundation that has existed for over 70 years. Our soul and culture set us apart,” says Quan.
Besides high-end paper products, stationery and leather goods, Bynd Artisan also focuses on the corporate gift business and collaborations with creative talent from different fields.
Tie-ups with names such as fashion designer Priscilla Shunmugam and leather artist Cherin Sim inject new ideas and sustain interest in the brand.
Chan says: “Our collaborators spur us on to design products that are outside our areas of specialisation. This also ensures that our team and customers remain excited about our brand.” 关卫贤说：“产品品质好是必需的，不在话下。关键是要跟竞争者与众不同，才能出奇制胜。”曾薇薇补充：“品牌建立在我们超过70年的根基上，所展现出的人文和灵魂是我们独一无二之处。我们曾想过把品牌扮成一个外国品牌，从海外红回新加坡。经过一个朋友点醒之后，我们把重心从产品折回人的身上，突显老工匠和悠久的工坊传统——一拥抱本土根源之后，品牌的真实精神就水到渠成，成为卖点。”转型后，品牌的核心由精致纸制品、文具和皮革品；为企业量身定制的赠品，以及和不同领域创意人协作的产品构成铁三角。关卫贤解说，核心产品采用当代而永不过时的简约理念设计，符合品牌的核心顾客群——专业人士的品味，而跟不同创意人士，比如服装品牌Ong Shunmugam、歌手Gentle Bones、皮革绘图师Cherine Sim的合作，则为品牌注入新意，源源不断地激活顾客对品牌的兴趣。曾薇薇说：“我们不限制合作者的概念，从他们身上学习，鞭策、推动自己去创制我们专长以外的产品类，这也确保我们的团队和顾客对品牌感到兴奋。”
Significance To Singapore 对新加坡的意义
The two founders say they have seen a shift in the attitude of consumers here post-SG50 celebrations in 2015.
“Singaporeans are becoming increasingly comfortable with their identity and their demand for creative products made here is also growing,” notes Chan. “They ask that local products narrate our stories and viewpoints."”
Her husband adds that many companies that source their corporate gifts from Bynd Artisan have asked the atelier to insert a print-out of its brand story inside. “They are very proud to let their clients know that the gift they are receiving is an outstanding Singapore product.” 五年前构思品牌转型时，他们不确定新加坡品牌在本地是否做得起，但SG50之后，他们观察到国人心态的转变。曾薇薇说：“随着新加坡社会逐渐成熟，国人越来越关心自己的身份认同，对本地文创品的需求也提高，要求本地产品讲述我们的故事和观点。”关卫贤也指出：“许多企业来找我们量身定制赠品时，要求我们印制联名卡片，放置赠品里头，很自豪地让嘉宾拿到赠品时，知道这是一件新加坡的优良产品。”
Plans For The Future 未来计划
The brand will open its fifth store in Raffles City this month. It also has a few collaborations lined up: It will work with home-grown designer Olivia Lee on fashion accessories such as clutch bags and jewel-boxes inspired by the form of the book, as well as with design and architecture firm Ministry of Design on a collection of leather fashion accessories.
Leather products now make up 70 per cent of Bynd Artisan’s business, with stationery making up the rest. Chan says it will continue to bolster its positioning in lifestyle goods.
Depending on customers’ feedback, it will roll out more limited-edition items from tie-ups with various personalities. For instance, Chan says Lee’s book-inspired designs can be developed further to create a “library” for Bynd Artisan.
The brand’s success has drawn interest from prospective partners in China and the Middle East, so overseas expansion might soon be on the cards. 8月将在莱佛士城开设第五家专卖店，接下来将与女设计师李韵思合作推出书本造型的手拿包首饰盒等时尚饰品，以及跟Ministry of Design推出品牌首个皮革系列首饰。虽以奢华文具出身，但纸制品目前占30%，皮革占70%，曾薇薇透露未来将巩固品牌的生活时尚地位。品牌将继续与不同创意人推出限量协作品，根据顾客反应扩展空间。曾薇薇说：“譬如跟Olivia的书本设计品还可以不断扩增，打造一个Bynd Artisan的‘书库’。”品牌的成功也吸引不少中国和中东等商家的合作邀约，关卫贤透露Bynd Artisan不久将走出海外，让新加坡品牌红出小红点。