NPO Supporting Malaysian Charities Through Themed Tote Bags

Anything can be considered offensive to anyone, even more so in the age of keyboard warriors. So, we watch our words and try to understand delicate social contexts so as not to provoke conflict.

But there is a Malaysian startup that makes products that are intentionally meant to rub someone the wrong way.

Offending for a good cause

Their bags may rub some people the wrong way / Image credit: Kantoi

Kantoi is a retail brand that prints bold statements on tote bags and clutch bags and then sends all of the proceeds to the charity it works with.

According to their Instagram, their products are meant to offend people for a good cause.

“Our sense of humor is quite sarcastic and in a time when literally anything can be interpreted as offensive, we knew someone out there was bound to be offended. So we just wanted to put that forward, ”said Min, who co-founded the brand.

Since humor can be subjective, Kantoi just finds a different way to do something right. Whether it’s making people laugh or raising money and raising awareness for a good cause.

This marketing strategy is an effective use of connecting customers to a brand. We often share things that are touching, amazing or that make us laugh and ignore the boring ones.

It is according to Jonah Berger in his book, Contagious: why things are gaining momentum. “The key is to use emotions to connect with your customers, so that they feel strongly about your brand and share it,” he writes.

Highly aroused emotions like anger can be very effective in getting people to take action, and Kantoi has taken advantage of this in his collaboration with the Women’s Aid Organization (WAO).

In the post, they presented the statistics related to the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence faced by Malaysian women and girls.

After the statistics were presented intended to anger their audience, the post ended with a call to action and then support WAO’s fight in this area by purchasing a tote bag.

Their bags are not always so negative. Min told Vulcan Post the statements are grouped by topic of the cause they are advocating for.

WAO carried the theme of anger, while their collaboration with the Tung Shin Hospital Cancer Center (TSH) for Pink October focused on the breasts.

For the holidays, they collaborated with Pit Stop Community Cafe on the “naughty” theme.

The team also makes sure their clients know exactly where their money is going. Thus, each package is accompanied by a leaflet explaining the campaign.

Grocery bags with

As a daytime television producer, Min had just finished delivering Season 2 of The Bridge when the movie industry shut down during the MCO.

With plenty of spare time, she honed her skills as a home cook. After making many trips to the grocery store, she realized she needed more reusable bags.

At the same time, the business of its usual printing press has been hit hard by the pandemic. This inspired her to design and print a few grocery bags for fun.

“Not only would that provide an outlet for my slightly inappropriate sense of humor and give me a new project – the baking was really ruining my size – but I hope that would help the shop a bit too,” thought to himself. Min.

Tote bags are great reusable grocery bags / Image credit: Kantoi

She made a small batch and distributed them to her close friends and family. Soon people demanded to buy them despite his insistence that they were not for sale.

Starting another business on top of her production was the last thing she had on her mind, but the demands kept coming.

So, she tied up 2 friends, decided to sell them to a charity without taking any money and started the business in August 2020.

It was all uphill from there. Their first batch for WAO sold out in 10 days, and requests from TSH and Pit Stop Cafe for their respective October and Pink Christmas collection to help feed the homeless followed soon after.

Connections can take you far

Kantoi has never really had a hard time finding retailers to sell its products, contrary to the assumption that many Malaysian companies still avoid “taboo” topics.

Collaborations with Journey Indoor Cycling Studio and Kitsch’s online store are all managed by the team’s school mates. When it comes to Instagram sales, Min told the Vulcan post that Ninja Van also handles their deliveries for free.

But aside from friendship, Min shared that it was also easy to get them involved, as they too were aligned with Kantoi’s mission to do good.

“And really, we are the ones who owe them because they do not take any commission on the sale of any of our products and we donate 100% of the profits so that as much as possible goes to the causes we support. ,” she said.

The packages come with a leaflet explaining the causes it supports / Image credit: Kantoi

As for associating with social causes and their campaigns? Min joked, “We introduce ourselves and say ‘we want to give you money! “”

Jokes aside, the team always makes sure that those organizations that don’t get a lot of funding understand that Kantoi isn’t using their efforts for personal gain, but for the benefit of making a difference.

Selfishly, the brand is an outlet for our somewhat inappropriate humor and if that makes people laugh, so much the better! But more importantly, if it can allow us to continue to make a positive difference in people’s lives, then that’s all that matters.

Min, co-founder of Kantoi.

  • You can read more about Kantoi here.
  • You can read more about the other startups we’ve talked about here.

Featured Image Credit: Min, Kantoi Co-Founder

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Jothi Venkat

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