What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

Hello everyone I am Mel Lim, a Malaysian born Chinese designer based in San Diego, CA. I moved to the U.S. when I was 19 to attend the Art Center College of Design. After working as a designer doing mostly commercial retail spaces and corporate branding for 8 years, I became an entrepreneur. In 2005, I launched a brand of design-driven lifestyle products called JOY by Mel Lim. JOY today covers home accessories, paper goods, organic baby and fashion accessories. Holly has talked about my work a few times on decor8 so you may know who I am.

My designs are inspired by nature, travel, food and of course my Chinese heritage. My beliefs in Feng Shui, coupled with old Chinese habits and superstitions have created a set of design rules for me, believing that colors play a key role in design, be it on paper or space. Every element has to have a meaning. Every placement has to create harmony. Every design has to inspire good, joyful living.

Our design studio has 3 main colors, with red and black being my lucky colors and black and white being my husband?s. When used appropriately, it is believed that colors can enhance your luck in business, career, love and marriage.

Lately, I have been obsessed with yellows and browns. It must be all the chocolate bars with golden wrappers that I have been eating. I travel with my mini sketchbook that has tons of drawings of foods and animals.

A packet of instant beef ramen inspired my fall collection. The colors of curry noodles, brown sauce and chili peppers gave life to wraps, totes, placemats and pillows.

Coming up with a design idea is really the easy part of my business. Finding the balance between running a business and being the designer has been my biggest challenge and inspiration. I am sure any designer who just started their own studio or line of products goes through the same ordeal; we have to think about sales, marketing, pr, production, pricing, trade shows, the day-to-day struggles of a small business owner at tough economic times like these.

Over the years, many aspiring designers have emailed me to ask how to run a business and do trade shows. This has inspired my husband and I to launch a blog called BACE ? Business & Creative Exchange. In this blog, we provide answers to questions that many fans over the years have emailed us; how to do a trade show, how to price items, how to get things manufactured etc. No B.S., just an honest discussion. Our goal is to assist and inspire other designers and offer them insights to real problems faced by small business owners. We?d figured that we may not have the money to help (yet!) but we have many blunders and successes we can share to instill awareness. We simply just want things to be easier for others than it was for us!

Thank you for joining me today here on decor8. If you have any questions about my business or running a small business in general, please comment here and I will gladly reply!

(all images and text by mel lim)