Sarah (friend) and Issy (Founder) at KINOI's first Perth pop shop in October 2019
1. What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Isabelle (Issy) Ng and I am 22 years old.
2. How would you describe your personality?
Free-spirited, fun and silly, but passionate and serious about things I love and believe in.
3. What is your favourite KINOI product?
I am in love with the new Bamboo Collection and the Bubble Tea SPRAW - I am obsessed with how the spoon tip can scoop the cheese foam in a clean but stylish way.
I also am obsessed with the Christmas Box Sets Latrice and I are designing. There will be two different box sets valued at around $60/65 and we have collaborated with other small businesses from Australia. We are SO excited!
To see the Bamboo Collection, subscribe to our newsletter (scroll down to bottom of website).
4. What is KINOI's vision?
To create a world where bubble tea is stylish and sustainable, now and forever.
5. Why did you start KINOI?
I started KINOI because I wanted to find a solution for all bubble tea drinkers who wanted to avoid single-use plastic waste. Since we are in the digital age, I decided KINOI would be an online business and leverage social media advantages to grow KINOI. That way, many risks and costs will be minimised too.
6. When did you start KINOI?
KINOI officially launched the website 30 September 2019 for pre-orders and launched orders (sent orders) around 12 October 2019. So basically KINOI is one year old now - that is why it's now time for another collection, so that bubble tea drinkers who don't like the Classic Collection hopefully will take a liking to the new designs.
The idea of KINOI began in February 2019. I was 19 at the time!
7. Do you study?
I actually just graduated mid 2020 with a Bachelor of Business double major Marketing and Psychology in Society. I am now learning Chinese Mandarin at a Confucius Institute (not as a university degree).
8. Do you work an additional job?
KINOI is my side hustle while I studied last year. I worked numerous jobs during the last year. To name some, I was a casual waitress at a Vietnamese fusion cafe (I love my free pho so I loved this job haha), part time at my local government Marketing team (which I also loved because my team was amazing and I enjoyed learning in a professional setting) and piano tutoring.
It was a hard decision when my Marketing team contract ended at my local City and there were opportunities to go full time. However, I decided to not apply for the full time roles and to take a chance with KINOI.
I am now only piano tutoring and focusing on growing KINOI.
9. How long did it take to have a physical product? (From initial idea)
It actually took longer than usual because originally I wanted KINOI to be a product-defined brand. Take KeepCup for example, their brand is defined by their cup shape. So I wanted KINOI to be a unique cup design too. However, after going to many local injection moulding tool companies, I was unable to do so because the minimum order quantity was too high, I didn't have the capital and no one really specialised in glass in Australia - it was all plastic.
To solve this, I looked out for existing products and was able to find a 700ml mason jar. I then ordered caps (lids) and then tried drilling a 14mm hole that was smooth. It was a success, so then I launched this idea online, gained interest, launched pre-orders and saw many people were willing to buy despite the fact we didn't have stock yet!
10. How was the concept of KINOI then transformed?
KINOI was then repositioned and transformed into a brand concept similar to Kikki K. - they sell collections of stationary. Now, KINOI is also a brand that sells stylish collections of reusable bubble tea cups and accessories.
So while the physical product is important, understanding what kind of brand positioning you are after is important too.
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For more interview questions or discussions about starting KINOI, watch "Interview with Isabelle Ng - KINOI" by Futuristic Skills: https://youtu.be/Yx6JGfecS88