Laura Peh, founder of cinnamon art stories, with one of the books from the publishing house’s first picture book collection
“It is very much similar to looking at a painting,” she said.
This is what inspired the 28-year-old to set up her own boutique publishing house, cinnamon art stories, which focuses on children’s books that “celebrate art and creativity”.
A gap in the local publishing scene
The first-time entrepreneur, who is also a professional harpist, had never even considered setting up a publishing house.
“It seems (to be) so old-school and a male-dominated industry… but it turned out to be the perfect representation of all my interests – reading, writing, arts, culture, having my own business, making an impact and working with children,” she said.
Laura had worked in Singapore in the past, and found the start-up and business community here “supportive and close-knit”.
She also realised that while there is a growing literary scene in Singapore, there was still a gap to be filled in the publishing industry.
The publishing house’s collection of children’s books in a retail space in Dubai
“I also wanted to create a publishing house in Asia recognised for unique and educational content, great design and beautiful illustrations. I feel a lot of picture books lack these elements and that’s why we invest in curating our collections and are discerning about who we partner with. It is our dream to share our titles with as many children as possible,” she added.
Supporting and celebrating regional and female talents
“Each collection is carefully curated by myself with thoughtful input from my seasonal interns. We work with illustrators that match our aesthetic and have the same vision, values and attitude as our brand,” Laura said.
Preview of the upcoming collection, a collaboration with The Mak’s Coffee
The Maks’ Coffee works directly with micro-lot coffee farmers to source for premium Arabica coffee beans. It is one of the few coffee brands in Singapore that is female-owned.
Laura also roped in her cousin, Kimberly Peh, to illustrate this collaboration. Kimberly is currently an undergraduate student at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida, specialising in computer animation.
“As a boutique and female-owned publisher based in Singapore, supporting our regional community is important to us,” she said, adding she believes there is a large talent pool here.
Workshops of picture book creativity and play
The first collection focused on introducing artists to children, to spark their interest in the arts
“It’s heartwarming when children come up to us after the session and tell us that they really enjoyed it,” Laura said.
She also had a mother recount how elated her daughter was with her story creation. “(She) went home to record herself telling the story over and over again!”
Seeing how her offerings have brought a smile to people’s faces is one of the most heartening aspects of the business, she said.
“Seeing the books come to fruition is like a dream come true. When a customer tells us how much their children enjoyed the books, or when children remember visuals or key points from a book, we know that we have made an impact.”
Key takeaways for running her own business
- Marketing is crucial to building a community and brand awareness, and I had under-budgeted in this area.
- I executed a few marketing ideas but they did not translate into sales. Thankfully, I had the common sense to halt those ideas before it was too late.
- It’s incredibly important to be objective and honest with yourself, especially with a passion project. Let data guide your business strategy.
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