Bespoke wedding stationery designer Vivian Yeung shares her story of independence, growing up in a foreign culture and how her business For the Love of Stationery is literally changing lives.
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I was born in Australia but my family moved to Hong Kong when I was a one year old. I returned to Australia at the age of eleven to go to boarding school. My parents only stayed in the country for two weeks before they returned to Hong Kong and I was on my own. I couldn’t believe my family was actually leaving. I became so homesick. It was hard, and I felt like I had to grow up really quickly. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. I feel like I am who I am today because of what I’ve been through.
How did you cope with culture shock of growing up in a new country?
I still remember thinking just how crazy it was. Now when I reflect on it and look at people that age, I just can’t get past the fact that I was in a new country alone at such a young age.
I lived in boarding school for two years before moving in with a homestay family in Bella Vista for five years. That was when I really had the opportunity to absorb the Australian culture, because in boarding school there were a lot of people from different countries. I spoke English, but it wasn’t until I moved in with my Australian family – and that’s who they are to me – that I got much better at it. They brought me up in a way. I still keep in touch with them. I’m the same age as one of their daughters – she’s like a sister to me.
How did you become a wedding stationery designer?
I studied Visual Communication (Graphic Design) at university and I was doing freelance design work on the side. A friend asked me to design stationery for their wedding, and I fell in love with love. I loved being able to be a small part of their special day. I loved the beauty and intimacy of working with their engagement and wedding photos, and creating the perfect typography to make a treasured, personalised keepsake for them.
I was working on the business on a freelance basis, creating a lot of different stationery when I had an opportunity to reflect and find clarity. It was during an entrepreneurial conference that I attended that I was asked what I enjoyed the most and did really well in my business, and whether this was what I was focussed on… and it wasn’t. I realised that this was my opportunity to become a specialist in my field. It was a defining moment for me. There are a lot of ready to buy things out there but it’s so different when you create something specifically for someone.
What characterises your wedding stationery and your business?
There weren’t many beautiful, fully personalised photographic wedding stationery options in the market when I started and I wanted to create a more personal option for couples to express themselves. I love helping to create a representation of a couple’s big day with their wedding stationery. People spend a lot of time and money to get beautiful photo shoots done, so I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for them to get more out of their photos by featuring them in their invitations as well. It really provides a personal touch, and is the perfect way to give their friends and family a glimpse of what the wedding will be like.
“I love the thought that we’re working together to bring change, and helping other people to maybe, just maybe, one day have their special day too.”
For the Love of Stationery is also your platform to contribute to some serious social change?
I believe that there’s always an opportunity to do more and be more. Yes, weddings are about the two people coming together, but where there’s a will, there’s a way and I found an opportunity for the celebration to improve someone else’s life. My work is so personal, and it’s important for to me to have a say in how I run my own business. It’s very important to me that my business makes a difference, not just for my clients, but in a bigger sense.
I believe everyone deserves to live a life that’s free from pain and suffering, which is why I partnered with A21, a global anti-human trafficking organization dedicated to eradicating modern-day slavery in the 21st century. I believe that every human life is invaluable, and A21 are determined not to stop until the 27 million men, women, and children trapped in slavery are set free. They work tirelessly to rescue, restore and rebuild the lives of human trafficking victims globally. A portion of the proceeds from every For the Love of Stationery order goes directly to A21 and knowing that my design is making a difference means everything to me.
How did you discover A21?
The first time I heard about A21 was at a church conference. It really struck me that this whole other world exists, but no one thinks about it. It’s right there, happening in our own backyard – real and hidden in plain sight. I suppose my background, and living independently of my family at such a young age, has made me particularly aware of the vulnerability of people and has compelled me to act – I just can’t sit idly by knowing what I know now.
What is it about this particular cause that really resonated with you?
I think about my experience of being in a new country, away from my family as a teenager, and realise how easy it is for people to quickly find themselves in a situation where they are alone and vulnerable. I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunities and experiences I did have, but I can understand just how easily people can be taken advantage of, manipulated and abused in a foreign environment, away from family and their support network. Slavery is such an outdated concept and yet it’s the fastest growing organized crime in the world today.
Tell us more about A21?
A21 work to reach the vulnerable and disrupt demand; rescue victims and seek justice against their captors; and to restore survivors and equip them to live independently.
A21 run campaigns year-round, from the annual Walk For Freedom, a global event that shines a light on the darkness of slavery, to Love Gives, a campaign where personalised cards are hand-delivered to survivors receiving care within A21’s shelters. They’ve been working for nine years and have achieved so much. But there’s still a long way to go. There’s a lot more information on my website…
It sounds like you’ve got a keen social conscience. Your support of A21 is commendable. How have your customers responded to your work with A21?
I include a note to couples with their stationery to let them know that their order has assisted A21 and thank them for their contribution to this cause.
A lot of clients are more than glad to be part of this. People say that they’re drawn to working with me because they feel like they’re contributing to something bigger. I love the thought that we’re working together to bring change, and helping other people to maybe, just maybe, one day have their special day too.
What advice would you give to men and women who are thinking about or have started to build their own businesses to pursue their own passions?
Just go for it! Stop being scared. Everyone will make mistakes along the way, but you learn as you go. It’s better to try than to spend the rest of your life wondering what might have been. This could be the year you chase your dreams. This quote by author Les Brown sums up my thoughts:
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”
All images owned and copyrighted by WePlanr.
To read more about wedding invitations that can change the world, visit www.fortheloveofstationery.com
For one-of-a-kind wedding stationery, send Vivian a message at www.weplanr.com
More information about A21 can be found at www.a21.org/
In keeping with Vivian’s passionate support of the movement against human trafficking, our interview was held at The Freedom Hub. This amazing space, wedding venue and cafe, operates on a 100% non-profit basis to support The Freedom Hub Survivor School. Read more at www.thefreedomhub.org/