This is the story of a mom Elsie @elsiewithlove from Penang, Malaysia who uses journaling through art to express herself when words can't be found, and uses the spaces on paper to pen down her doubts and questions when there seem to be no answers. Through the pandemic, her own stamp and stickers creations have gone to places internationally. This year in 2022, she opened her own Tofu Studio in Penang, a lovely workshop space filled with plants. 

R: Elsie, how did you come to fall in love with journaling? How has journaling impacted you?

Elsie: I have been keeping a journal since I was 10 years old. Back then, it was more of writing and simple doodling. It came naturally for me to fall in love with the creative side of journaling in my adult years, which I discovered through YouTube back in 2014.

I would say journaling is quite liberating to me. It allows me to express myself in ways I am unable to do with people. I can't seem to find the right words all the time, but with art journaling for instance, I can use drawings, collages to show how I feel and people seem to be able to relate to the messages more through those pages.

It is also my favourite way to collect memories of my travels that I wish to hold on to. All the little keepsakes like name cards, stickers, tickets go onto my journal books. And it is very therapeutic for me. When I am stressed , I tend to cut stickers to stick them on my sticker book for hours. It soothes me.

Featured here: Elsie uses Mori's World's 1st Pursebook (Tiger design)

R:  What made you decide to start your own business in stationery creating your own rubber stamps? Where do you get your inspirations and ideas from? Share with us your journey!

Elsie: I have always been obsessed with stickers and stationery. Before the pandemic, I worked part time in a local stationery store and also taught a journaling workshop in-house. When the pandemic hit, I was unable to do so. And so I decided to venture into making my own line of rubber stamps. I am so glad I did it.
My stamps have these little plant characters I've created. They were inspired by the plants on my desk. During the pandemic, my daughter and I were trying to kill time and together we doodled these cute little plants that we decided to name them Kakpoots (aka Kaktus in Malay, Poot as in pot. So kaktus in a pot!). I hesitate to keep the name but I wanted to have my little one be a part of this special journey and so I kept it. 
I would say I am very much inspired by nature and the little things in my surroundings that sometimes people may overlook like paper clips , furniture and so on. Sometimes, we can minimise thinking what to draw, and practise drawing whatever that is around us.

R: What is your journaling style? Any tips for people intimidated to start and don’t know where to begin? 

Elsie: I don't think i have a specific journaling style because I do believe my styles vary according to the format of the journal and also the topics I choose to journal. But overall i would say among the journaling styles, my favourite would be doodle journaling and collage journaling. 

For starters or beginners, I would suggest not sticking to a specific style. I strongly recommend them to try it all. And if you are overwhelmed with choice from all the mediums, try bullet journaling or doodle journaling first, which only requires writing tools of your choice and a journal. From there, you can slowly add other mediums like stickers, washi tapes and go on from there. 

Just remember there are no rules in journaling. That's the beauty of it! just  do what you love. 

R:When life gets difficult, how do you stay the course and stay resilient? 

Elsie: It might sound super cliche, but it's the truth- when I start to doubt myself or find myself in very difficult circumstances, I journal, regardless of whether it's personal or business-related.

I would write down my all my worries. And write down questions that maybe no one can answer for me. I also keep a devotional journal where I write scriptures and verses from the bible. It keep me focused and I do feel they were the answers to my prayers. So for me when in doubt, I journal and pray.

R: Thank you so much for sharing! We hope you enjoyed using our World's 1st Pursebook! How did you like it?

Elsie: I think the Pursebook is a very clever idea. I carry a journal with me a lot to cafes. So i constantly also need to carry a pencil case separately. Sometimes when I only wish to carry very few items, a Pursebook is like a solution to it all. I can just grab the journal and be on the go. Hassle free.

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