What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

August 26, 2008

Hello everyone I am Mel Lim, a Malaysian born Chinese designer based in San Diego, CA. I moved to the U.S. when I was 19 to attend the Art Center College of Design. After working as a designer doing mostly commercial retail spaces and corporate branding for 8 years, I became an entrepreneur. In 2005, I launched a brand of design-driven lifestyle products called JOY by Mel Lim. JOY today covers home accessories, paper goods, organic baby and fashion accessories. Holly has talked about my work a few times on decor8 so you may know who I am.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

My designs are inspired by nature, travel, food and of course my Chinese heritage. My beliefs in Feng Shui, coupled with old Chinese habits and superstitions have created a set of design rules for me, believing that colors play a key role in design, be it on paper or space. Every element has to have a meaning. Every placement has to create harmony. Every design has to inspire good, joyful living.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

Our design studio has 3 main colors, with red and black being my lucky colors and black and white being my husband?s. When used appropriately, it is believed that colors can enhance your luck in business, career, love and marriage.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

Lately, I have been obsessed with yellows and browns. It must be all the chocolate bars with golden wrappers that I have been eating. I travel with my mini sketchbook that has tons of drawings of foods and animals.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

A packet of instant beef ramen inspired my fall collection. The colors of curry noodles, brown sauce and chili peppers gave life to wraps, totes, placemats and pillows.

Coming up with a design idea is really the easy part of my business. Finding the balance between running a business and being the designer has been my biggest challenge and inspiration. I am sure any designer who just started their own studio or line of products goes through the same ordeal; we have to think about sales, marketing, pr, production, pricing, trade shows, the day-to-day struggles of a small business owner at tough economic times like these.

What Inspires JOY by Mel Lim

Over the years, many aspiring designers have emailed me to ask how to run a business and do trade shows. This has inspired my husband and I to launch a blog called BACE ? Business & Creative Exchange. In this blog, we provide answers to questions that many fans over the years have emailed us; how to do a trade show, how to price items, how to get things manufactured etc. No B.S., just an honest discussion. Our goal is to assist and inspire other designers and offer them insights to real problems faced by small business owners. We?d figured that we may not have the money to help (yet!) but we have many blunders and successes we can share to instill awareness. We simply just want things to be easier for others than it was for us!

Thank you for joining me today here on decor8. If you have any questions about my business or running a small business in general, please comment here and I will gladly reply!

(all images and text by mel lim)


  • Reply Sam August 26, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I’m so happy to have found your BACE site! I’m right in the midst of getting started with so many of these things.

    Your work is beautiful:)

    Sams last blog post: Handmade Kids

  • Reply Diana August 26, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Your work is beautiful! And I am rushing over to check out BACE right now! :-)

    Dianas last blog post: Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution

  • Reply Natalie Jane August 26, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    I mentioned this spread on my blog today. Love it.

    Natalie Janes last blog post:

  • Reply Melissa de la Fuente August 26, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Wow! What an absolute doll you are Mel, I love your mantra of joyful living and am a new fan of your work! I too am in love with your yellow and brown combo. Thank you for sharing, it was a pleasure. Congratulations on your site, BACE, I will be sure to check it out! What a great idea!

    Melissa de la Fuentes last blog post: Ellie

  • Reply Amy C August 26, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I love the yellow and brown section and want the bunny print.
    I am wondering where its from?

    Amy Cs last blog post: Madison Park – Squirrels

  • Reply alex August 26, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Hello Mel, do you design all your selling products? How did you get start to go solo? -thanks

  • Reply Ana Carini August 26, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Really beautiful work, Joy! Nice to meeting you!

    Ana Carinis last blog post: Exhibition | Biennale di Venezia

  • Reply Laura August 26, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing your BACE blog and wisdom with us! Lovely to meet you and see more of your beautiful work :)

  • Reply Lynn Benson August 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Ooh! A malaysian designer! Very proud of you.. Pretty, pretty things too!
    Please come to Seattle and open a store here!

  • Reply Rachel Mallon August 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Love your collage boards! I just visited your site BACE and it is great! I have been looking for information on press kits and you gave me so much information. I really appreciate it!

  • Reply Mel Lim August 26, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Amy – The Bunnyzilla print can be purchased at our website:

    Or you can buy them at Aardvark’s website:

    Thank you all for your support! Love – Mel :)

    p/s: We will try to answer all of your emails and questions as fast as we can. Keep them coming!

  • Reply Susannah August 26, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Just wondering where I can purchase your products. Thanks, love your work!!

  • Reply Susannah August 26, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Answered my own question, found your site!

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