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How This Brand Celebrates “Weirdness” Through Their Personalized Planners

Updated: Dec 23, 2019

A planner is something most people look forward to getting when the new year is approaching but finding the 'perfect' planner to suit your needs and lifestyle is something difficult. It's either that you love the cover of the design but the inserts are too plain or too small or there isn't enough space for you to jot down your day-to-day tasks.

We get you; the hunt for the perfect planner is never an easy feat.

It wasn't until we found out about ana tomy, a brand that could potentially help us with that! The brand focuses on giving their customers an experience when picking out their planners as they give us the freedom to customise and personalise our planners from head to toe; from the colour of the planner's cover, the type of inserts and even the colour of the ribbon marker and how many you'd like as well! To top it off even more, you can even monogram your name on it. The idea is that you are able to not only find the movitvation to commit to using your planner but also, enjoy the experience of picking and customising your planner. Your planner is unique to you. Stationery lovers, rejoice!

So, we also got curious and we wanted to know more about ana tomy and how they are able to bring personalisation in planners to the next level:

1. How did you initially come up with the idea of creating ana tomy?

Cliff & Zeejay founded The Alphabet Press (TAP) in 2013 to preserve, revive the centuries-old craft of letterpress, and make it relevant again into the modern society, hence a viable business. We tailor paper stationery like premium business card, wedding invitation, corporate stationery for customers. We also create off-the-shelf paper products like calendars, cards, and notebook with unique Malaysia design identity using this centuries-old technique to make prints.

Cliff, Zeejay & Fidella (from left to right)

As we see the growing demand in bespoke services, we see the potential of personalisation. Cliff & Zeejay think conventional notebook industry is not sustainable. And here’s why: The production of a notebook generally take 30 days from start to finish. It starts desks of designers, to the manufacturers, and then only will be market at the local stationery shop. And the biggest challenge for this model is the inventory. 

But we are here to make sure it does not happen. We manage to reduce the average production time from 30 days to just 30 mins with the introduction of a fully customisable notebook.

Cliff believes mass customisation is the future of manufacturing. We live in an era where customising a product is at a peak. From the spec of a laptop to the Nasi Kandar down the street, we routinely custom-made things according to our tastes & requirements.

With this mass customisation experience, everyone can design their own notebook. Pick from a selection of notebook inserts that fits your needs, notebook cover that carries your personality and combining a personalised name in making your preferred notebook design. It made up to many thousands of design combinations. Our artisans can assemble the notebook on the spot, entirely manufactured on demand.

Through this model, Zeejay believes that it can move towards a zero inventory as it’s completely an on-demand method of production and distribution. By changing the lead times from weeks to minutes, we are changing the speed at which a product can go-to-market.

2. Why is ana tomy so dedicated to incorporating such an extensive personalisation process of curating a notebook/planner? 

The future is personalised - Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, mass customisation lets consumers tailor products to their own specifications. The concept has been touted for decades — but only recently has technology made customisation more accessible and easy enough to adapt on a large scale.

We believe everyone is unique and we should empower them to design and create the product with creative liberty.

Reduction of waste - I started ana tomy with an ambition to reduce unmovable stock in our inventory, and consequently, wastage. To pursue this, we embraced the mass customisation model. Our products are made on-demand — the assembly of a notebook only begins when you place an order. Through this, we do not produce ready-made products that sit on shelves. Most of our products are produced in small batches. Mass customisation allows us to understand your needs and gives us time to learn about your preferences.

Empowering you - It is essentially the creativity and individuality of the customer that determines how unique the design of the ana tomy product can be – providing customers’ ideas can be implemented from a design and quality perspective, of course.

We hope to empower everyone to cultivate self-belief and decision making. By going through the customisation process, it helps you to understand yourself much better.

3. What is the most important/non-negotiable value that your brand holds?

Celebrate Individuality. At ana tomy, we embrace individuality and believe everyone is unique, some may say weird. It doesn’t matter what others think of you, it matters what you think of you. We hope to grow and adopt this concept and have each individual be involved in both crafting and designing their preferred masterpiece with a helping hand from our artisans every step of the way. 

4. As a startup company, what is the biggest challenge you face?

We think the most challenging thing as a startup is being small, hence bootstrapping become an important part of how we run the brand. Essentially, it's very much all hands on deck. Some of us are not even full-time into the business yet. There are many things we hope to do and want to offer, but we just can't do so at this point of time due to the limited resources. As a startup in Malaysia, it's a challenging task to convince the people that we can make just as good product as the luxury brands. We want to design and develop products that we are proud of and improve the quality of the production, but the challenge lies in convincing the local market to support us and help us become the true challengers to the larger brand.

5. Can you walk us through the process of creating a new design for ana tomy?

Ideation - We invite our customers to be a part of the design process. Every year, we will sort of brainstorm and think of what we hope to put forward to our customers, and in the meantime get a quick runaround campaign on our social media to see how our customers react to that. 

We'll then let our customers decide which design to make it into production through voting. It's a democratic process. After collecting the insights and feedback, we'll then narrow down into what we'll be developing for the year.

Product Development - From there, we'll take some time to firm up with our design concepts. We'll create a pilot project and start the prototyping process. The prototyping will usually take the longest time as we'll stress test our mockups internally. Revisions after revisions with different types of possible materials to ensure its consistent quality. Sometimes, the product may never see the light of the day simply because we think it's not good enough.

Production - If it passed our perfect standard, we'll then produce it for our customers. We'll produce in small batches to gauge the customers' feedback on the product.

Marketing - At the moment, we focus more on word-of-mouth marketing (I guess we have to because we do not have big budgets for marketing). We believe if you have a good product, the customers will help to shout out and share it among their friends. Occasionally, we do pop-up events to showcase our products and bring the customisation experience closer to the audience around the vicinity.

6. Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs who wants to start a business with a customizable element product?

You have to be really passionate about the brand in order to design and create a customisable product. Because you need to know how to make the product very well so that you can understand all the elements of the product and know where you can make it customisable and how you plan to make it for the customer on the spot. It took us a couple of years to learn, unlearn, and then refine the product and processes.

It's a commitment. You'll have to be ready to work extremely hard and preserve as all successful companies didn't happen overnight. It takes years to break out and gets on the road to success.

7. What are your best tips for individuals to start utilising a planner without feeling overwhelmed? 

You should not feel overwhelming in using a planner. We met people who felt intimidated to use it because of the handwriting is not great or some who simply do not know where to begin. 

A planner is simple. It helps you to plan and essentially yours. There is no need to compare it with others. What matters is, the value it brings to you on your daily work and life. We suggest cultivating your mind to trust and start using the planner. Take notes during an appointment or write down what you plan to do daily.

You may also consider starting your morning by writing it down what you plan to do today, tomorrow or the day after. Start from a yearly plan to your monthly goals, and finally narrow it down to actions daily.

Once you are comfortable with it, perhaps you may start to explore the goals, reflections, and how to use it to help you to improve and become a better version of yourself.

Surprise Giveaway!

Would you like to get yourself a planner? Together with ana tomy, we are giving away 2 planners to you guys! Check it out here on details on how to join! Giveaway ends on 22nd December 2019.

You may find ana tomy online or visit them at:

80G, Jalan Rotan, Off Jalan Kg. Attap 50460 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia +6012 963 6322

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