From Paper of Love to World Class Creative Business

Cattleya Thuampratom – Viriya Thuampratom

The Idea Essential

There is a saying that “the family business will never reach the 3rd generation” and it was proven right over and over, especially when that business is the “wedding card” which is gradually becoming less popular from the online influence and changing marriage norms. However, the 3rd generation successors like Gift – Cattleya and Nada – Viriya Thuampratom choose to carry on the business that their predecessors had established and this path has given them both “a test and a lesson” that makes them who they are today.

Tiny Space, Big Heart

This business had begun during World War II from the small stall of the ladies’ grandmother. The tiny stall sold wedding cards and thank-you gifts on Phahurat Road. As we all know, Sampheng – Phahurat area is the wholesale market that garments, finery and accessory can be found. It is a place that is always full of shoppers from all over the country. Whatever is being sold there will always receive great feedback. It is an area as good as gold that sellers want to have their stalls located and the small stall of Gift and Nada’s grandmother has no exception. Later on, that small stall has expanded to become a retail shop.

The 2 ladies take over the wedding card business and thank-you gifts from their father. Gift, who takes on the business 2 years before Nada, has set a goal for herself that she will turn this “smallest shop into the highest earned business” and this is where the business by the 3rd generation begins.


Old Work from the Young Blood

Imagine the golden age of this shopping district. Phahurat Road was and still is a district where cards and thank-you gifts can be found. Every shop sells pretty much the same products, so whichever shop you step in does not really make much difference. To attract customers to their shop, Gift and Nada have to establish their brand to make it memorable and impressive. This is because people do not only buy the products, they also buy the brand. Both ladies, thus, rebranded and introduced new perspectives of wedding cards to the customers. Forget about the typical crimson phoenix and golden dragon card and raise the value of the cards by adding creative design from the insight of the customers as well as adding the identity and personality of the couple into the design with the final touch of a tiny logo, indicating that the card is made from their shop. We will get to see Harry Potter theme wedding cards or wedding cards that are designed into the passport, telling the love journey of the bride and the groom as well as wedding cards that look like classic movie tickets that parts of them can be torn to participate in the lucky draw in the party. Every card has its own unique traits, at the same time, it contains invitation and information completely. From a wedding card that costs about 10 baht per piece becomes a wedding card that customers are willing to pay for over 100 or 1000 baht per piece under the brand “VIRIYA” and “ANYA”.

A wedding is not something between 2 people, but between 2 families that are about to be related. We will always get to witness adorable moments like a bride comes to choose the cards with her father or a couple comes to pick the card, but their mother gets to decide. Apart from these, there was a moment that the shop has to make the best card in the fastest possible time so that a father who was plagued by cancer will get to attend the wedding ceremony of his child.

Being Resolute on a Lonely Day

Nada used to hear the saying, “whatever that will happen to you, do not let it happen before you reach 30 years old”. And something really happened when the ladies are in their 20s. It becomes a turning point that they could never forget for the rest of their lives. During the days that everything had been going well. There was a handful of work flowing into the shop. However, the bad news just stormed in like a hurricane. The whole team of designers was snatched away and every single one of them marched in to resign! Like a troop without soldiers, the general will have to be even stronger. That day, the ladies had come to realize that “We should not tie our business with anyone. We have to know how to do every process. If anything were to happen, our business will have to be able to survive.” Tears might be the shed that day, but what they gain is the idea and business pattern that change both of them until today. “It’s okay. I (Nada) will be the designer of our brand.” The resolution on that day led Nada to discover her potential. From an accountancy and management graduate to a business owner who can do graphic designing. If the event on that day did not happen, there will not be 2 skillful ladies who can do everything right now.

When “sources” are No Longer the Selling Point

The business owned by Gift and Nada in the golden district seems to be going well. From a single stall shop to double stall shop to accommodate an increasing number of customers. However, online business is booming and there are many small shops opened online. This makes tremendous changes in the business world. The golden district those business owners were so desperate to have, now that the online market is flourishing, is no longer popular. The shops are closing down. The phrase “Not smiling but still selling” becomes outdated. Customers have choices. Any product sold in the shopping district can be easily found and purchased by the tip of their fingers. There are many promotions, no limitation in purchasing quantity, and delivery right to your doorstep. Gift and Nada’s business, of course, is affected. From having 1000 to 10 000 cards orders, their orders have reduced to a few hundred cards. On the day that the enemies are not neighbors, but anonymous individuals in the digital world without a retail store and sell exactly the same products as the ladies. An adaptation, thus, happened once again. When digitalization disrupts the business, they solve the problem with digitalization. They put themselves in the place that their customers are and with serious online marketing, Gift and Nada get a lot more customers from new markets both domestic and overseas markets. Nowadays, apart from VIRIYA retail store at Phahurat, there is also ANYA store at Thonglor as well as an expansion to the neighboring countries like Myanmar and Laos.

Have Fun with the Changes

Despite the rising sales, but on the day that 3 customers come to tell Gift and Nada that “Wedding cards do not have to be costly, they will be thrown away anyway”, Gift immediately told Nada that “We have to find something new to do”. The word “family business” in the opinion of the sisters does not restrict to just products, but it could be anything that can be improved further to their goal. “We don’t have to grow from what we used to have. We don’t have to hold on to the wedding card business.”

Their business does not stop at wedding cards and thank-you gifts. As they have a strong designer team, they are able to branch out in many ways. It is a change from the smallest family shop on that day to publication and designing business as well as thank-you gifts in one stop. From wedding cards to other types of publications, including pretty stationery or logo design, and packaging. A modification of wedding thank-you gifts into premium gifts or modification of black ribbons as funeral thank-you gifts.

Besides, there is a piece of advice on branding and marketing as the ladies are specialized with. They believe that if they are not so fixated, they will be happy and having fun with changes. They can continue to learn and try on new things to keep improving themselves because “what we should fear is the younger generation that will turn into the strong enemies in the future”, said Nada

Close Friends –Friends for Thought

SCB is the bank that Gift and Nada’s family chooses to use since their father’s generation. SCB is like their close friend who has known them for so long and this friend has brought good things to their business. “Every time we talk to SCB, we always feel relieved. If there is no SCB, there would not be us today”, said Gift with a smile on her face. Especially, when both ladies are parts of SCB SME, Gift and Nada has come to know IEP (Intelligent Entrepreneur Program) that is like surrounding themselves with knowledgeable people. This helps to broaden their business world perspective. It is truly an experience that cannot be found anywhere else and it helps them to improve on their business by leaps and bounds. 

Apart from friends from different business fields, they get to know friends from the wedding business that they can share their stories and consult on similar problems they face. It is a useful connection that brings about success. After that, both ladies return as “givers” by participating as mentors at SCB Business Centre as well as being invited as lecturers in programs and seminars held by SCB.

Beautiful Aspects of Family Business

The challenge of a family business is to transform the mind-set of the older generation to accept changes in order to catch up with the business in the disruption era. The younger generation will have to compromise. They have to slowly prove and bring the older generation to the realization while giving them respect they deserve. “Do not clear everything that they have done because that is their empire and happiness”, said Nada as words of wisdom. 

Besides, both ladies said that the family business has a charm that cannot be found anywhere else which is their close relationship with their parents, who are their advisors both in life and business, as well as having meals together and embrace one another while moving forward. From all these, we have no doubt whom “Thuampratom Sisters” get their DNA in doing business.


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