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By CHRISTINE CHEAH
alltherage@thestar.com.my

WHEN it comes to Christmas or birthdays, most of us would rather just splurge some cash on presents. Kricia Bong, 24, however, has been hand-making notebooks for her friends ever since she was in secondary school.

It takes quite a lot of effort, but Bong finds great pleasure in seeing the thrill on people’s faces when she gives them their personalised notebooks – so much so that she decided to start selling them.

Today, Bong, who hails from Kuching, Sarawak, is the owner of Notbook-Notbuk, a collection of handcrafted journals, planners, sketch books and greeting cards.

Bong’s unique creations are sold online (www.notbooknotbuk.com) and at selected concept stores in the Klang Valley, Sabah and Sarawak.

Having graduated with a degree in graphic design, Bong did once have a typical nine-to-five job, and she could have easily stuck to that secure, cushy career but instead, she chose to follow her passion for parchments.

But things haven’t sailed all that smoothly since Bong embarked on this paper trail.

“When I first started out, I received a lot of criticism and discouragement. Friends of mine told me to just get a real job. My parents were not really supportive. They preferred stability. I ignored them all, including my relatives – and time has proved them wrong!” she said.

One incident that particularly stuck in her mind was a restocking trip at a shopping mall that carried her products. Bong’s parents were visiting at the time, so she brought her dad along to the mall, and the proud father exclaimed: “You’re doing quite well!”

Originality, said Bong, is the most fundamental value that “crafters” like her should possess. It is the essence of the handicraft business, and it’s not something that comes along easily. Bong draws up designs during holidays, and even sources fabrics from her travels so she can create “limited edition” notebooks.

Even then, Bong has fallen victim to copycats. She once received a call from her sister asking if she had another series of Notbook-Notbuk products. It turns out someone else was using the same layout of labels she had on her products!

“People take these things for granted,” she said. “They see other crafters with simple stuff and they think they can just do the same thing. I can’t control what other people do; but all I can say is be original, and don’t copy.”

n Check out the hand-crafted notebooks at notbooknotbuk.com.

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