Q&A with iomoi Founder Irene Chen

iomoi founders Irene Chen and Matthew Grenby
Happy Monday! Starting the week off with style, I’m tickled to share an interview with Irene Chen, founder of iomoi! I’ve had a love affair with this charming brand since my emerald green eyes first spotted their adorable stationery. Exuding refined elegance with a dollop of whimsy and a fizz of cleverness, iomoi features everything from chic Lucite trays to monogrammed canvas totes to personalized notes in an array of vibrant and playful patterns. Lovable characters such as Muffie, LV the Monkey and Sir Beasley’s Camel (too precious for words!) all make appearances in the line and will capture your heart – MBB approved, dear readers! And so, without further ado, I give you Irene Chen as well as a collage of my favorite iomoi goodies. Enjoy!
How did you come up with the concept for iomoi? 
The concept for iomoi came when the two founders, Matthew and myself, newly dating, found ourselves on the opposite sides of the planet (Australia and USA) and looking for a way to stay in touch with something more elegant and personal than email. That’s when Matthew sent me the first “e-stationery”: an email with the look and feel of traditional monogrammed stationery.
Is there a story behind the name?
The name iomoi came out of our search for a unique name that suggests the essence of our brand without being too literal. Ultimately, it is an abstract word, pronounced “i-owe-moi”, that suggests “i owe myself (this little pleasure)”. This reflects our focus on personalization and gifting. We also like how the symmetry (reads the same forward and backward) of the word reflects our partnership.
When did you decide to make the brand more than just stationery?
Shortly after launching the iomoi e-stationery service, our customers kept requesting to purchase iomoi designs on printed notecards and other traditional stationery items. We followed the demand and the first line of iomoi stationery was born!
In terms of creating new designs and products, where does your inspiration come from?
Sometimes I feel a little “trapped in time” in my love for old books and photos about entertaining, style, and etiquette. Inspired by the past, making a product that is relevant and useful in our modern lives is an ongoing goal. An example is the personalized Lucite tray we introduced back in 2007. Tradition teaches us that one should always be ready for entertaining. Our trays are born from this tradition, but they are also a “now” item, made from fashionable, practical materials that can be used for more than just entertaining. Another inspiration, old beautifully monogrammed steamer trunks, led to a modern answer with the 2009 introduction of the iomoi canvas totes: stylish yet eminently practical for moving things from point A to B.
With oodles of gorgeous combinations, which designs and products are your favorite?
With our motto “tradition with a wink” our favorite designs usually involve our whimsical characters like “Muffy” and “James” who embody the notion of the “it’s five o’clock somewhere” lifestyle.
You are such an inspiration, having successfully created and launched a tremendously popular company and brand. Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Stay true to yourself and never give up. Be authentic!
What are your hopes for the future of iomoi?
Look for a big web site refresh this fall and our new wholesale line in the coming year.

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