Traveler's Lab: Zeng Shang-juan Realizes her Stationery Dream
【◎English translation: Hou Ya-ting
◎Photos by CHSG STUDIO】
Traveler's Lab is an online stationery store, and an official retailer for the complete line of TRAVELER'S notebooks produced by MIDORI, a Japanese stationery company. To better serve its clientele, in addition to its e-commerce operations, each month Traveler's Lab opens its store to the public for a few days. Customers can find the opening dates on Traveler's Lab's Facebook page. As one of very few shops to carry the complete range of TRAVELER'S notebooks, it draws clients from all over Taiwan, and even some from overseas.
Traveler's Lab Manager Ms. Zeng Shang-juan describes herself as a zealous stationery fan. This trait has manifested itself since she was a little girl, when she made a list of the stationery shops in Taipei she wished to visit. She would ask her father, Mr. Zeng Sin-you, to take her to these stores during family trips to Taipei. Ms. Zeng recalls her stationery binges, during which scrutinizing every single item brought her the utmost joy. Her childhood memories have given her an unwavering enthusiasm for stationery, and spurred her to open her own stationery business, Traveler's Lab, in 2012.
While surveying Traveler's Lab, Ms. Zeng explains how each TRAVELER'S notebook has a leather cover, blank notebook refills, and a rubber band binding the leather cover. She points out that the renowned quality of a TRAVELER'S notebook is obvious by the elegance of the leather cover and the blank notebook refills made of various refined papers. Ms. Zeng says she has an ingrained habit of using a TRAVELER'S notebook, and this has made her a steadfast fan of the brand. Last year, Traveler's Lab held a celebratory exhibition for the 10th anniversary of TRAVELER'S notebooks. Traveler's Lab has become a platform which allows Ms. Zeng to introduce her favorite stationery items. Among them is Shiny's Premium Ink, which can be applied to glass, leather and other materials. During these open days, Ms. Zeng cherishes opportunities to communicate with her customers.
Six years after establishing Traveler's Lab, Ms. Zeng expresses profound gratitude for her father's unrelenting support, as well as for his being a reliable partner in her stationery business. Ms. Zeng says that she handles ordering and supply inquiries, while her father is in charge of delivery tasks. Ms. Zeng says that since her father retired from conventional industry, he has devoted himself to learning about stationery. His full commitment stems from his wish to share his daughter's workload. Ms. Zeng proudly says her father plays an indispensable role in her business, contributing computer, stock-management and business-negotiation skills. Her father now can deliver a smooth product presentation. A cypress table, moved to the shop from Mr. Zeng Sin-you's house, is used to display items of stationery. The table's presence signifies that Ms. Zeng has the full support of every member of her family.
Ms. Zeng reveals that she was invited to establish a Traveler's Lab shop at a department store, but turned the offer down. She declined the offer not because she did not foresee prosperous sales. Rather, she worried expanding her business would make logistics more complex, and she would have to spend a lot of time dealing with orders, imports and distribution. "Appreciating fine stationery enriches my life," she says. She is thus unwilling to sacrifice her passion for stationery to an overwhelming workload. She expresses satisfaction with her store's current operations model, which combines e-commerce with a few public open days per month.
"Despite the dominance of technology," says Ms. Zeng, "I have a lovely feeling when I inscribe strings of words on paper." For this reason, she promotes traditional penmanship, recording tangible marks instead of mere clicks on social media.
Address：No.196, Dinghua Rd., Sanmin Dist., Kaohsiung City