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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

just as we were reminded of our hospital dramas ...

 . made it to a center page spread of the News Straits Times yesterday.
Frankly, I have not seen it myself {shocked???} and it sure was an ironic way to find out at 8-ish am via google alerts for "Penelope Gan" and ""

For those who missed it, the article is reproduced below, the digital format one at least with less photos.

This piece was given to a PR agency some time back ... and reading it sure brought back our memories of neonatal intensive care units, high dependency wards, "do not resuscitate" forms, fire escapes {for me to sneak back in when it's past midnight}, and the poor old souls I meet in the corridors in the wee hours of the morning who were sent home to count time in the bosom of their love ones and in the comfort of their homes ... the harsh realities of life. But mostly reading the article just left me with some lingering memories with no acute emotions.

However today at about 11 am, my sister's short message and note got me spinning, dizzy, nauseous, teary. NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! was ringing in my ears as soon as I got passed the "NO WAY!" denial stage.

For those who do not know, Val is 7 months pregnant and have been experiencing some discomfort. Deciding to have it checked out this morning, she drove to the hospital after dropping Becks off at school. The discomfort and cramps over the weekend it appears were contractions. The baby's head had turned south and she's actually experiencing contractions!

The O&G who had initially dismissed her complaints as being anxious - reasonably so when you have a special child, although it was not attributed to genetics - had ordered bed rest. Since 'bed' and 'rest' is not in Val's vocabulary, she was instantly admitted into the hospital.

The news got me to the verge of exploding ... of breaking down... at work.

 Truthfully, the stress and anxiety is wearing us all down... me, my mother and my brother in law.
So ladies, terribly sorry about the delayed delivery and confirmation of orders. I'll seriously get down to it in the next 24 hours once I've figured out the children and how to keep Becks perky and happy, while still making it for all my work meetings and prior commitments.

Thanks for your understanding and for the well wishers, many thanks for your prayers ...

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the NST article
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30 July 2012, News Straits Times

What the Gan sisters started as a journal has bloomed into an online business selling scrapbooking materials. They tell Rozana Sani about its beginnings and aims
BLESSINGS come in many guises. For Penelope Gan, it came on May 12, 2003, when her elder sister, Valerie, gave birth to Bryant. He was born with cerebral palsy.

From thereon, the life of the family, particularly Valerie’s and Penelope’s, centred on hospitals. Doctors told them Bryant would not live long, without any definite timeline, quoting weeks to decades. Typically, they said a baby with injuries as severe as Bryant’s, usually don’t make it through childhood.

“It was then that my sister started writing journals on everything about Bryant — his days spent in hospitals and our journey living with a severely brain injured child. I, on the other hand, spent my days at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care units and high dependency wards, sewing one-off felted appliqued clothes for him and creating handmade decors for his nursery that incorporated cognitive and sensory elements with the hope that he may one day wake up and be able to see or hear them,” says Penelope.

All these led to the creating of the first scrapbook on Bryant.

“It was nothing like the typical scrapbook. We didn’t know what preservation was all about, so we used colourful paper from gift shops and our homes. Of course, these were not acid-free and our hard work started to turn yellow very quickly,” she says.

The sisters chanced upon “scrapbooking” while browsing the web in search of colourful, patterned papers. They noticed that there were materials listed under the “scrapbooking” section on eBay.
“Scrapbooking was almost unheard of here then as the typical scrapbook shops didn’t exist! It was through eBay that we discovered that embellishments and ribbons were popular for scrapbooks and we became addicted to the ribbons online. We eventually collected ribbons and trims. I combed the souq in the Middle-East, flea markets in Europe and markets in Asia to bring such ribbons home for my sister who couldn’t travel as often,” she says.
Many of the vintage trims and ribbons that Penelope bought abroad came in huge bolts and the sisters had to sell some to be able to afford to buy others. In addition to ribbons, they also bought a lot of scrapbooking stuff from manufacturers in the US.

“As our storeroom began to overflow with all scrapbook purchases, it was clear we had to sell some. Naturally, eBay became our selling platform and the name Scrap-n-Crop was coined for our eBay store,” says Penelope.

As their collection of scrapbook items continued to grow, the sisters set up an independent online store that retained the Scrap-n-Crop name.

Today, sells everything from ribbons and paints to paper products for scrapbooking, card-making and other paper related hobbies such as quilling, mixed media and art journalling.

“The original intention was for to be a part-time business to help sustain our hobby but as it grew more popular, we began to entertain the idea of making it a full-time business,” says Penelope.

Interestingly, when started, it was more popular with global customers from as far as Russia, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle-East. Today, most of its global customers are from Australia and Singapore and Penelope notes that the local market is expanding rapidly as scrapbooking and card-making gain popularity.

“We are still a small family-owned operation, with help from stay-at-home mums with brain injured children. I look into the marketing aspects while my mum oversees the packing and distribution of goods and my sister has her hands full with the accounting, purchasing and customer enquiries. Our stay-at-home mums have a flexi-hour arrangement and support the digital and creative side of the business with website maintenance, newsletters, online subscription management and crafting “Tips & Techniques” for the content of’s blog,” says Penelope. uses PayPal for its business transactions. “Customers feel confident to buy from us as PayPal guarantees the security of their transactions. Payment is also very convenient,” she says.

The sisters’ goal is to provide a source of fairly priced scrapbook products and to offer gainful employment to friends and families of brain injured children. To date, it has more than 3,000 regular customers worldwide with 85 per cent of their transactions done online.

From time to time, conducts classes at its “warehouse” premises at Bandar Sungai Long in Kajang and hosts parties and crafting events. has also participated in “going green” initiatives, as well as presented events to encourage recycling of everyday items in corporate offices in the Klang Valley.Penelope says: “We also partner with friends active in outreach programmes such as the Ti-Ratana Penchala Community Centre, as well as create awareness and raise funds during the Cerebral Palsy Awareness Week.”
Where does Penelope wish to take

“Our primary goal is to continue to provide fairly priced scrapbook products and to offer gainful employment,” she says earnestly.

“We hope to be able to reach out to parents with special needs children and be a source of reference for assistance in terms of childcare management, therapies and, more importantly, to encourage and change the mindset of parents and caregivers of special needs children. We want them to know that the arrival of such a child in their lives is not the end of the world or an inconvenience, but rather a special and beautiful gift that God has entrusted to a selected few.”
Bryant remains the epicentre in the lives of the sisters. Nine years on, he continues to amaze doctors and those around him with his relentless courage, spirit and will.
Penelope says: “He is still immobile and is unable to eat, see or hear. Although he now shares some of the attention, limelight and love with his younger sister, Bryant remains the core of what defines and is at almost every function with our volunteers, supporters and customers, who almost always remember to include him in their own special ways. We joke and say he’s our ‘chairman’.”
Penelope says she and Valerie still can’t believe that they have a thriving online business.

“Being left brain type people with Master’s degrees in finance and MBAs as well as careers in the finance industry, we hadn’t imagined we’d be selling scrapbooking materials, much less run our own online store,” she says.
“We were raised in Kuala Lumpur, your typical urban kids, but we also played outdoors, made our own toys and created art with paper, scissors, scraps we found in the house and from nature. So, perhaps we did cultivate the right side of our brains after all!”


Hilary said...

Sorry you're ll having such a worrying time at the moment, my thoughts are with you.
Great article!

Hilary said...

Sorry you're all having such a worrying time at the moment, my thoughts are with you.
Great article!

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