Interview : Fuanglada “Sai” Jeeoun, Thai designer, founder of JanFive Studio

Fuanglada “Sai” Jeeoun is a young and successful thai designer who started JanFive Studio two years ago. She creates bags and scarfs that sell worldwide. We met Sai in her studio in Bangkok where she draws and design her products, and she told us about her passion for her work, her inspiration, the travels around the world, and the projects for the future.

How did you create JanFive Studio ?
I studied art at the Fine Art vocational college and then I realigned to study Textile & Fashion design. That is where I learned about textile design and I felt in love with it. After my graduation, I worked for different companies, that gave me a good knowledge of the industry : I worked for fashion designers and accomplished different tasks.
Two years ago I wanted to have my own brands. I had a passion for textile, art and fashion. I started to draw and create my products.
I joined the fashion contest “Designer’s Room” organised by the Thailand Institute of Design and Innovation. It’s a part of the Ministry of Commerce. They support young designers. It’s a two year program including training and support for sell and marketing. They help us export and attend fairs.

Thanks to this program, I went to “Who’s Next” , a trade fair in Paris, Porte de Versailles. They selected 10 brands to go to France and I was among them.

I went as well to BIFF&BIL in March last year. This is an international fashion fair in Bangkok, and it opened up new doors for my project.

Did you have a good experience in France ?

Yes, “Who’s Next” fair was a great success for me. I meet many customers, journalists and people in the industry. When I came back to Bangkok I was contacted by a company which owns shops in many museums in France. They wanted to buy my collection for their shop in the Louvre museum in Paris! I was amazed! So we made a deal and that’s how my creations are now sold in Paris. Later they ordered again because it sold well.
I have a special connection with this museum. Everytime I go to Paris, I need to go to the Louvre and see Mona Lisa.
Designer’s Room takes place every 2 years, and this year I have been selected again by the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) to participate to Who’s Next Paris from 8th to 11th September 2017.

How do you get your inspiration ?

My inspiration comes from inside, it’s very personal. That’s why the name of my brand is JanFive. This is the abbreviation of my birthdate, 5th of January.
I am from the South of Thailand, so I was raised by the seaside and I love the blue color. It’s a classic color and it sells well.

I put all my spirit on the design. I like the calming and relaxing atmosphere that comes from my creations.
A part of my design inspiration comes as well from the ceramic tiles embroidery.
Sometimes I can be inspired by my travels. For exemple when I was in Lyon, France, I designed a new pattern to represent the culture and lifestyle of Europe.

The colors and the design reminds me the atmosphere of the Greek Islands
, like Santorini…
My customers tell me that sometimes. My collections remind them the mediterranean sea. But in fact, it comes from the Andaman sea, where I was born.

Who are the artists that you admire ?

Frida Kahlo : I admire her character , her strength. I want to be like her. What she did came from the heart. Despite all the difficulties she had faced in the course of her life, she could always overcome the challenges and practice her art.
I love as well Gustave Klimt : I’m very fond of Art Nouveau and Symbolism.

What about the names of your collections ?
The name of my first collection is “Day dream in the ocean heart” . During the day, when I create, I dream about ocean, waves, curves, sand. That’s how this name came to my mind.
The next collection was “Living in the painting” , with new colors ; green and gray. I wanted to try other colors. However, It was less successful than the previous collection so I came back to blue.

What is your marketing strategy ?

I sell online, durings events, and sometimes in Siam Paragon. My website is the best way to communicate with my clients, show my products and sell. It showcases my work. I always sell under my brand. I had an offer from a german company which wanted to buy a great quantity, but they wanted to sell under their brand. After long and detailed consideration, I decided to decline the offer : I would loose my identity. My design is very special and I want to protect it.
Another website is a great help for me : . It’s an online clothing shop that features young designers in Asia. I’ve got a lot of order from them. Besides, they organize every year and outdoor market in Kowloon, Hong Kong. They invite the best designers that are registered in their site. So I was invited last October. The customers in Hong Kong where very fond on my products. Everything was sold out. And when I came back in Bangkok I had a lot of orders online from them. Hong Kong buyers are very dynamic, when they see a product they like, they decide quickly and buy.
I hope that I will be selected to go again this year, but it won’t be easy : in one year they have doubled the number of products, so it’s gonna be a drastic selection!

What are the different steps when you create a new product ?

I start by painting with ink on the paper. Then I scan it and go to photoshop to make it perfect and adapt the size. Then it depends on the products :
For exemple, I have scarfs made from 100% thai silk, and other models made with polyester. It’s a very good quality of polyester which feels like silk. You can hand wash them. The silk needs a dry cleaning.
To print my pattern, we use the sublimation technique on the polyester, and direct print on silk. When you print directly on silk, the ink goes deep in the fabric, it doesn’t stay on the surface. There are 10 steps for the whole process, that’s why a silk scarf is three times more expensive than the polyester one.
For the polyester, the sublimation makes the pattern bright and clear.
I produce everything in Thailand. However the ink is imported. I do everything from the drawing to the packaging.

What is the profile of your clients ?

Usually they are over 25 and work in an office. They are people who love art and pay attention to the design.

What are your next projects in the future ?

I’d like to focus on scarfs, and produce less bags and accessories. I don’t have enough time to take care of all the products so I have to make a selection according to the best selling ones. Besides, it is challenging to create bags : it’s difficult to find the material, the process is complicated, and the factories want us to order big quantities.
I plan as well to launch a new pattern every month. It’s a challenge because it takes me 3 weeks to create one so I will need an efficient organisation.
My other project is to create blazers. For traveling, going on holidays. I know a skillful tailor that I’m working with and she can make great blazers.
As a conclusion, I love what I do ; being a creator, a designer and a businesswoman. I’m very motivated and I hope that my brand will continue to be as successful!

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