Wanting to dig deeper, we spoke to co-founders Ryan Sim and Alphonso Ngiam and got a little more up close and personal.
Can you tell us how you started the Kisetsu brand? Do you still remember where you were or what you were doing when the idea hit you?
Alphonso: I was an avid fan of minimalist wallets on Kickstarter and thought it’d be cool if I could create my own campaign some day. One day, in the toilet, I was just holding onto my wallet and thought about how I could improve it. And that’s when the first idea came to me.
Do you identify yourself as a business entrepreneur or a product designer?
Alphonso: We have a good mix in the team. Some of us are more entrepreneurial and some are more design oriented. Some are very good marketers. Generally, we are all very hard workers!
Where do you gather inspiration when designing a product?
Alphonso: We gather feedback from our customers on what they feel can be improved on our designs. At the same time, we buy a lot of wallets from various brands, we test them everyday and see what the pros and cons of these wallets are. We then take these findings into consideration when designing our new products.
What is it like being behind such a young and cool brand?
Alphonso: It's really not that big of a deal. We are just a team of great friends working on something we love. I guess the perks of running your own business would be that you have total control of your time. You don’t have to apply for leaves to go for a holiday.
Ryan: I particularly enjoy the sense of ownership. Nothing else in the world could substitute for that.
Which of the Kisetsu wallets is your favourite?
Ryan: In all honesty, we don't have a favourite because each wallet has it's own purpose. So we'll just pick the one that suits our lifestyle. Currently, our other partners Edwin and Joel, and myself included, are using the Aki wallet. Alphonso is using the Haru. He pretty much switches wallets every month, cause you know, product testing and all that jazz [laughs]!
How do you see the Kisetsu brand expanding or growing in the future?
Alphonso: We are looking to expand our product range beyond wallets. Kisetsu will become a brand for everyday carry items and accessories that are functional, practical and beautiful.
How did you guys meet?
Ryan: Al and I met when we were serving our nation! We were both storemen in the same unit. We pretty much hit it off from there.
Do you whip out those Kisetsu wallets often to go shopping?
Ryan: Not really, we're a very frugal bunch!
What were some of your recent big-ticket purchases?
Ryan: Well, Alphonso just bought a very beautiful bicycle so he could commute to work. Meanwhile, I like shoes so I got myself a pair of Yeezy Boosts in Pirate black!
If you weren't making wallets what would you be doing?
Ryan: I'll probably be trying my hand at another business idea of some sort. This goes for the rest of us in the team as well. None of us can work to our full capabilities under someone else.
What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs on exploring their ideas or putting it into execution?
Alphonso: There is nothing impossible, just how.
Ryan: The best time to take the first step was yesterday. The second best time is now.