It sure can get dull sitting at the desk all day, especially if all you’re faced with is mountains of homework waiting to be done. There just might be a fix for that perpetual mid-afternoon slump; and it comes in quirky pen-holders and nostalgia-drenched notebooks for penning your musings and appointments in. Be it to refresh your weekday productivity grind or to complete your hipster aesthetic, here are seven homegrown stationery brands that offer offbeat alternatives to your typical pen and paper – just in time for the back-to-school season!

Actseed Co.

Actseed Co

Ditch the no-nonsense black notebooks for something a little softer on the eyes instead; especially if they’re done in pastel washes of colour the way Actseed Co. does. They’ve got offerings in classic marble and stone, alongside self-designed prints like Tangerine Quartz and Becka, and mosaics of colour that are pretty but understated. If it’s a desk table pick-me-up you need, browse their brush-lettered prints in housemade wood frames, for a touch of homeliness in your space and a gentle boost to the dreary heart. The design studio creates pretty stationery while giving back too, and makes donations from every sale to social organisations like Babes and the Children’s Cancer Foundation.

Poptsie Paper Co

Poptsie Paper Co

True paper junkies know that there isn’t much else more intimate and personal than to receive heartfelt words in hand-lettered print, and that’s what Trudy of Poptsie Paper Co is preserving in this internet age. Think tailoring but for your stationery, perfect for special, dreamy occasions. Combining the timeless elegance of floral blooms with the delicate flourishes of calligraphy, it’s what you’d think old-timey letters looked like; complete with a wax seal. Though their botanical collection is yet to be released, you can ogle their works of art on Instagram – including gold calligraphy on vintage porcelain.

The Farm Store

The Farm Store

Go full hipster with The Farm Store’s curated selection of local-flavoured lifestyle products, and you’ll never have to worry about being basic with your stationery again. The first store to promote and curate products from homegrown lifestyle design labels, think witty puns and clever local references on the fronts of your notebooks, like the Streaming Exercise Book set that highlights the meritocratic principle and resulting elitism of the local education system. Apart from laksa-motif paper goods though, you can also adorn your desk with trinkets like the Merlion Plastic Bag Holder, that pays homage to the iconic Merlion-printed white bags that used to come with every purchase. It’s nostalgia and local pride, tastefully incorporated.

The Paper Bunny

The Paper Bunny

You might already recognise this brand for their leather-bound yearly planners and aesthetically pleasing desk planners, but what you might not know is that they were borne on local shores. With a large offering of stationery that’s modern and well-made, The Paper Bunny is a welcome upgrade for your stationery game – they’ve even got a fabric-bound notebook foiled with a classic Coldplay line (yes, lights will guide you home) for subtle fan merch. Old-schoolers can upgrade their letter-writing too, with a plethora of notecard designs to choose from.

WheniwasFour

WheniwasFour

Embodied in their adorably christened brand name, the folks at WheniwasFour pay homage to the wonderment and nostalgia of our childhood past. They believe in the premise of simple happiness, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with their array of eclectic stationery – reminisce childhood memories with the cheekily illustrated Ngh Ngh or Pom Pom notebooks, or an adorable Paper Boat pencil case. Who says growing up has to be all serious business and no fun?

xHundredFold

xHundredfold

We love a good local brand, and one that champions social causes we love even more. Singapore-based and now offering worldwide shipping, xHundredFold supplies creative originality with a conscience, with every purchase going into helping the less fortunate. Here you’ll get quaint patterned notebooks and postcards, or their in-house designed #buildabag kits – they’ll donate one to an underprivileged child when you get one for yourself. Go ahead, stationery junkies, fill that shopping cart guilt-free.

Youniverse Design & Co.

Youniverse Design

Arm yourself for bad days at the office, with adorable themed stationery on hand as an immediate mood-booster. At Youniverse Design & Co., you’ve got classic favourites like cartoon sloths and unicorns, but it’s the locally-inspired Kopi-O-Gau notebook that will capture the hearts of coffee and dog lovers alike. Grab yourself a Piak Piak sticker pack too, just because cute pugs and kitties deserve an appearance anywhere and everywhere.

A version of this article first appeared on SG Magazine.

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