Hey there, gribookers! Here is an article about me and Gribook Accessories that was recently published in a local online magazine for ladies. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and mainly because of Nadia, who interviewed me and Elena, who took pictures – it was so easy and fun to talk to them, that it seemed too short! The original article in Romanian can be found here: PENTRUEA.MD – and here’s the English version that I translated for you.
A business where reading is king. Gribook Accessories started from a book blog and has become a team of creatives who offer accessories that protect and decorate books and reading devices. This way, fabric that might seem ordinary can become the cover of a bestseller or an e-reader.
Elena is a born bookworm. After reading everything her library had in Romanian and improved her English, she discovered the wonder of reading originals. She dreams of a house full of books and a room of her own, stacked with books, where she could hide from routine and noise, where it would be only her and the books. This explains why she wants to bring colour to the lives of all bookworms in Moldova, and not only.
“I started my own book blog in 2011, where I reviewed books. It was only in English because my friends are mostly English speakers and the books I read are in English, too. This is how I started thinking of other ways to promote reading. We called the blog Gribook because my maiden name was Gribincea plus book. When we started making Kindle Sleeves, we kept the name.” Elena remembers.
The colourful sleeves for books and dairies were first made in 2012 and although, not very popular with men to begin with, have started liking their books in fabric and being confident about their preferences. “ A year before that, we started with Kindle Sleeves. As we made them, our clients kept asking for other models. With the book sleeve, what’s important is that you can use it on one book, then take it out and use it on another, or even a planner. To begin with, men were a bit skeptical about the colours and patterns we used, but they became devoted clients in time, who knew what they wanted!” declares the Gribook author.
The Book Sleeves are created in different sizes, to fit books that are big and smaller, but for every type of product, they create individual designs and customized sizes. “I’m the one who takes care of the concept, choosing the fabric, as well as selling and promoting, and Cristina, my Gribook partner, is in charge of all the sewing. Elena says it takes them about an hour to make a standart size Kindle Sleeve.
Gribook promotes reading by making their products affordable, but also by giving preference to making book-related products. The patterns and colours are the most special moments when creating a Sleeve: “The first criteria of choosing a fabric is that it is pleasant to the touch, and cosy to hold. We don’t like synthetics and even if I really like a fabric, if I touch it and I don’t like how it feels – I don’t buy it”, Elena tells us.
As a small business, what customers say and like is most important. “We have customers who have one of every type of product we ever made: from Bookmarks to laptop sleeve. Every product we made was first made upon someone’s request. Our first Book Sleeve went to the US, as a gift for a friend’s mother. We got many words of appreciation from that lady, who told us she kept getting compliments wherever she took her Book Sleeve”, the Gribook founder declares enthusiastically.
The biggest challenge for the Gribook girls was the size of Book Sleeves, because books come in different sizes, and it’s not so easy to adjust them. “We also make sleeves for gadgets that are affordable, useful and nice. Cristina and I both like to experiment. Most of the things we make started on a gut feeling, but turned out to be very useful and pretty. Now we make sleeves for laptops and tablets, but we don’t promote them as much. They all have a soft padding inside – so it keeps the gadget safe.”
“We were in Lithuania for a year and took a break, but a lot of people kept contacting us and asking if we have any let over stock. When we got back, we started making them again and I’m happy they’re still in demand”, Elena Putina says.
The latest Gribook product is the Passport Sleeves. “These we made out of necessity, for those who travel a lot. The first one who tried it was my husband. The sleeve had a button to begin with, but we opted for elastic eventually, because they’re more practical that way”, the creator tells us.
The creative keeps saying that what Gribook makes is first and foremost to promote reading, books then technologies. “We promote what is exclusively for books, reading, Kindle. They’re close to our hearts, and they’re at the core of our business model, so to speak. This is why we’re also making fabric Bookmarks. Another important aspect of the marketing is packaging. “We prefer paper packaging, eco-friendly, and we always write the name of the owner on the little top flower, in pretty letters”.