Who is Heartwrite?
Two writers telling and writing stories for other people and ourselves. Our core is communications, which to us means connection – products, concepts, communities and causes. We just published a kid’s book, so for now we look like an indie publisher.
What was or is your challenge in doing this kind of business?
It’s breaking that convention of what is a job, what is work and what is a career, and being taken seriously as business owners. Eyes used to glaze over when we say we’re working, because they see us out here in a café or the beach or anywhere, really. It’s suspicious! That 70% of the time our work entails staring into space didn’t help! Creatives can relate to that. It’s not that we intentionally set out to be unconventional. We found ourselves not walking the traditional path of life here. Having said that, a traditional bank account is helpful. Planning helps, occasionally. We don’t reject convention, we just do us. Sometimes that’s within the norm and other times not.
Tell us more about the book.
It’s a kid’s book in French titled, «Qu’est-ce qui est plus grand ?» which means, ‘What’s bigger?’ The story is set in Brunei. Being in a foreign language, it will travel! It’s also really a labour of love. From start to finish – writing, illustration, art direction, production – it’s an artisanal process. Every copy is handmade, so production’s limited. Normally in business you begin with stuff that makes money. We did things in reverse, doing pet projects first, which is pretty cool.
What was the experience like?
It’s really gratifying to work with others, especially those in the creative community. The illustrator, Cristina Nance, broke out of her usual artistry to make the story come alive. We consulted with the printer, Karl, on paper types and cover textures. Friends on holiday are helping us deliver to international customers. We’re still in the experience and it’s far from being a solo creative endeavour which a lot of people think writing is.
Is what you are doing contributing to Brunei’s Vision 2035?
We didn’t set out to do that. What we do is a motley of what feels right, what we like and what we can imagine doing. There are people who want to have writing as a career. Seeing us step into it hopefully shows them that it can be done their way.
You are two different people. How does that work?
Friends and partners are two different sets of roles and our personalities do contrast. As we’re two passionate people, we can have strong feelings about things. We manage to work it out. Once business talk is out of the way, though, we’re back to being friends. We’re united by our ideals, which are similar, even if our ideas are not. That’s why it works. If we’re the same, what’s the point?
Is that what being progressive means to you?
Ying: It’s being unafraid to follow that little voice inside your head and heart, to believe that you can do it, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Just keep going, improving and working at it.
Huwaida: Being progressive is about trusting the essentials. Anything we do, we do it with and through people so we need to collaborate and connect authentically with others. The essentials like goodness, openness, kindness and respect never go out of fashion because they work.