FASHION - INTERVIEW
Monday, October 29, 2018
Ian Hsieh, Founder and CEO of ZENLET
FASHION - INTERVIEW
by Mehmet Kaplan
Ian Hsieh decided to design minimalist and functional wallet and has started to analyze the design features of all minimalist wallets that he can find on the market. He saw that some of them have useful features, but there were some problems, that cause difficulty in use, had to be solved. After designing process, ZENLET wallet takes its last shape in 2015. Following the success of the Kickstarter campaign, which was planned as a result of long-term reviews, he continued to design new products that make users' life easier. I asked Ian Hsieh, Founder and CEO of ZENLET, about the story of ZENLET, the features of their minimalist products, and the key of their Kickstarter success.
Ian, could you tell us about your background and design experience?
I have obtained a Master’s Degree in Engineering from National Taiwan Univ. Ever since I was a child, I had always been passionate about the product design and enjoyed having my hands on making things from scratch. When I was in a colleague, I have led a team to design and develop the project of “Intelligent Individual Electric Vehicle”. Intelligent Individual Electric Vehicle is ultralight that it is equipped with the feature of the changeable wheelbase and the capability of following the moving targeted vehicles. This project had even been nominated for the final of Acer’s Entrepreneurship Competition.
How did ZENLET idea was born and what is the story behind it? What inspired you to design these minimalist products?
As I have been trained as an engineer since college, I am familiar with the concepts and principles about the mechanism and manufacturing. In addition, I enjoy acquiring new knowledge & ideas, and also enjoy reading books related to the startups and sales & marketing. When I was serving in the army in Taiwan, I got to know the crowdfunding provides a platform for the designers/entrepreneurs, who have the creative ideas but are short of money, to present their works and to raise capital to carry out their projects with the help of the marketing planning and the interactions with the backers.
Because I was fascinated with the new business model, I would spend lots of time in studying as many crowdfunding projects as possible when I had days off. After analyzing various projects of different categories, I had a finding that the categories of Technology and Design are the most popular ones that have caught the attention of many backers. Especially, the minimalist wallet designed to replace the bulky and beat-up wallets is the most popular one. However, after reviewing the various minimalist wallets currently in the market, I found these wallets have one thing in common that they are not unique enough. And this has triggered me to create a wallet which is minimalist and unique. In order to create the minimalist wallet of my dream, I have given up the opportunity to work for a well-known company and decided to organize a startup company with the crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
Could you tell us about ZENLET wallet?
Zenlet wallet is a simple, secured, and intuitive wallet that it has the following features:
1 - The design of the no-separator (divider)inside the wallet allows for more space to store the cards, bills, and coins, which makes the traditional bulky wallet much smaller with the thickness of only 10mm. In addition, it makes the removal of the cars much easier.
2 - The feature of the inserted metal layer provides the function of the flexible RFID blocking to prevent the ID theft. In addition, the compact design keeps the cards and notes stored inside the wallet intact.
3 - The unique sliding mechanism allows the user to open the wallet by a single slide/swipe and the cards inside the wallet will fan out automatically, which is just as easy as using a smartphone.
ZENLET - Zenlet 2
Pre-ordering process of ZENLET 2 is newly completed. What are the features of ZENLET 2?
We have completed the pre-order and is now in the stage of mass production.
The feature of Zenlet 2 Series Wallet are;
- Even Simpler design
- Extremely Slim
- Elegant Appearance
- Neat Side Design
- More intuitive user experience
- Intuitive and Ergonomic Design
- Name Cards Collection
- Exclusive Sensing Card Compartment
- Horizontal Card Fan-out
- Brand new possibilities
- CNC Aluminum Unibody
- Apple Finishing Craft
What are the differences between your two wallets?
Zenlet 2 Series Wallet inherits the features of extreme slimness, swipe open and RFID blocking from the former generation. Furthermore, CNC is adapted to form the aluminum unibody. The whole internal parts are made metallically. It performs more outstandingly at user experience as well as collecting way. Even the quality is out of blue.
And there is a LIFT in your collection. Please tell us about your MacBook compatible design.
The sizes of Macbook that we have featured is Macbook with Touch Bar 13” and 15”.
Do you use your own designed products in your daily life? What do you enjoy most about using ZENLET designs?
Yes, of course. I always carry my Zenlet 2 wallet with me wherever I go. I especially like the slimness of the wallet and I also enjoy the swift fan out of the cards when I slide open the wallet. Most of all, when using my Metro Card for the subway, it is neat as I can just tap my Zenlet 2 on the sensing device and go through the gate that I don’t have to rummage in the wallet to find the cards, to pull the card out, and to tap it on the sensing device. It surely saves me lots of time.
What type of materials do you prefer in your production? What are your products common features?
For Zenlet 2 Series Wallets, we apply and depend heavily on the CNC machining process to create the unibody and also the anodizing treatment on the surface of Zenlet 2 Series Wallet. The CNC machining process is extremely time-consuming as we have to hollow out a whole chunk of the aluminum alloy to create the unibody. Nevertheless, it is the only way we are able to create the look and texture of a slim, simple, and clean-cut Zenlet wallet.
You made successful Kickstarter projects. What was the key point of your success?
What I have observed from the crowdfundings at Kickstarter is that there are many projects that are similar to each other. However, some projects can pledge a large sum of the fund while others can only pledge a few hundred dollars. Two factors may well explain this scenario.
First of all, the founder does not know why he/she should create the project and also how he/she should approach it. In addition, the founder of many unsuccessful projects is not aware of the subsequent effects and changes to the project after he/she did launch the project. Secondly, it matters whether the founder has connected to the backers’sensual desire to pledge, and whether the action of pledging the project connotes the backer himself/herself is participating in a meaningful campaign.
Therefore, for the crowdfunding of similar products, it is very important to approach the project in many possible aspects. It is not only the design, functions, or features of the product that will attract the backers to pledge for your project but also the sensual side of the backers that plays an important role in the backers’ pledging decision as many of the backers/consumers follow their feelings.
How often do you add a new design to your collection? Do you plan for any new product?
We plan to launch a new Zenlet wallet line to our collection every year. At the same time, we will constantly design and create new lifestyle products (other than the Zenlet wallets), with the motto of “Simple, Secured, & Intuitive”.
What is the importance of social media for ZENLET? How can our readers follow ZENLET?
Your readers can follow ZENLET via;
How can our readers buy ZENLET products? Do you have an international delivery option?
Yes, your readers can buy ZENLET products at the following link and we do make international shipping.
Our Official Online Shop: https://shop.zenlet.co/
What are your local and international growth plans for the future?
For the local and international growth plan, we will concentrate on the online shopping business via the cross-border e-commerce and the export business to develop the network of the off-line shops internationally.
Thank you Ian.