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Meet Christine

“Hi, my name is Christine Galera Chu and I am the hand behind Little Red Designs. I create handwritten modern calligraphy pieces both on paper and unusual surfaces (like walls, windows, cookies, rocks). I am also an amateur letterpress printer, trying to bring the lost art of letterpress printing back to life in Brunei.”

Interview by Atiyyah Azlan
Photography Christine Galera Chu

We sat down with Christine one day to unravel her journey as a self-taught calligrapher turned entrepreneur in Brunei. We got to know who inspired her to venture into the world of entrepreneurship, her biggest milestones in her career, as well as where she sees her business in the upcoming years. Christine also tells us about what to expect from her private workshops and if you’re interested in purchasing any of her products, her online store with Community for Brunei is now live! Keep scrolling to find out more.

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Little Red Designs Calligraphy Starter Kit 2.0 $62-68

From my knowledge, you are a self-taught modern calligrapher! How long have you been learning to perfect your craft? and how long have you been operating as a business?
Yes, I am a self-taught modern calligrapher! I started learning calligraphy in February 2014 and I would say I’m still learning and will continue to be learning to hone my craft. When I started Little Red in March 2014, it was heavy on digital typography art. It then became a platform where I shared my calligraphy journey and about a year after that, I started teaching beginners calligraphy workshops.
Calligraphy and letterpress printing is definitely something new to Brunei’s market – what made you want to start Little Red Designs and how did you break through?
The pivot point where Little Red became an outlet for handwritten and handmade products would be when I started learning calligraphy. What got me interested or started was seeing a post on Instagram of a flatlay of 6 or 9 book covers and this one book called “Modern Calligraphy” caught my eye and I was hooked. Can you believe that seeing a book cover on Instagram changed the entire course of Little Red? The rest was history.
The momentum of my workshops very quickly snowballed into a waitlist of at least 100 students during the first year of teaching. It was mainly word-of-mouth and my students encouraged their friends to join as well! 
I think having the community support what you do through social sharing or even telling someone about it face-to-face, is what kicked Little Red into hyperdrive the first few years of business. To be honest with you, to this day, The Collective has been one of my biggest supporters and drivers that propelled me further!
Is there a story behind the name Little Red Designs?
Not really. My favourite colour is red, that’s about it! Hahaha! The bicycle in my logo, however, is the exact same one that I used when I was studying in Australia. I. LOVE. IT.
Who has been your biggest inspiration during your journey as an entrepreneur?
I’m actually not great with the business side of running Little Red. My sisters help me with my financing, accounting and all that repetitive business side stuff. They set me up with excel spreadsheets to online systems to help me track expenditure and income and they’re my sounding board for pricing of new products and all that jazz. I just create. 6 years in, I’ve learnt only a little. Hahaha!

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Little Red Designs ABC Tote Bag $15

If you could collaborate with anyone or any business in the world, who would it be and why?
It’s very hard to choose amongst the sheer number of talents out there but at this moment, I’m focused on letterpress printing so I would choose 2 actually.
First, would be Swell Press Paper. She creates the most beautiful and unique stationery with letterpress you’ll ever see! Who in the world does knock-out AND overprint together in one piece? Britt of Swell Press does!

The other would be Pastelfd. He is an amazing muralist – sharing his love of art on the side of buildings across the world. I’d love to be able to do this.
Any milestones during your journey as an entrepreneur that you would like to share with us?
Many milestones! Many moments where I high-pitch squealed in happiness and excitement. I would pick the following:
  1. My first #lrdworkshop had people in it! I didn’t have to cancel because nobody signed up.
  2. Started my yearly “give back” on the anniversary of Little Red.
  3. Accepted an enveloping address job and addressed 360 envelopes!
  4. Collaborating with Cuckoo for their Hari Raya packets and gift boxes
  5.  Window lettering commissions through The Collective, at The Wildflower, Body Shop.

I see that you host various workshops! What can we learn by attending a private workshop with you?
In my calligraphy workshops, I teach you the basics of modern calligraphy and guide you through practice strokes and all 26 lowercase alphabets. I share with you little tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way and show you what you should and shouldn’t do so that when you practice at home, you’ll know that you’re doing it right. I tell all my students that they can always ask me questions or send me videos of them writing after the workshop if they’re not sure. So, I guess in a way they have access to me for life!

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Little Red Designs Calligraphy Starter Kit 2.0 $62-68

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Little Red Designs Never Stop Learning Tote Bag $15

Which piece of work or collection has been your most favourite one and why? 
I think this would either be the ang pao design or the Christmas tags also here. Because when I created these, the intention was simply to create. The bonus is that people actually liked them and wanted to buy them.
Where do you usually go for inspiration?
Travel is a big one for me, but now that travel has suspended I’ve come to realize that collaboration and/or meeting other creatives and getting to know them are sources of inspiration too. And of course, Instagram/Pinterest.
Where do you see yourself and your business in the future? 
This is always going to be a tough question to answer. I hope my business still exists and that I’m still teaching calligraphy. I’d like to have a storefront with not just my products but products from other makers locally and internationally, a printing studio behind glass panels where you can watch me print and a workshop space all-in-one. We’re very far from this dream though.

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