This is part of our #SmileABCs series, highlighting and going in-depth with small businesses and ecommerce brands. Check out the full series here.

Sticky Rice Sisters was also featured as one of our amazing merchants in our newsletter Talking Shop. If you want to hear more small business stories and get advice from their founders, be sure to subscribe to Talking Shop!

What do you get when you combine culture, stationery, and two sisters with the determination to bring everything to life? You get Sticky Rice Sisters. This adorable sticker brand was born out of sisters Koyun and Kochin Fan’s love for cute stickers inspired by their Taiwanese roots.

“Growing up in Taiwan, I always had easy access to cute stickers and stationery so I thought I should just bring them to the US and share Taiwanese culture with others!” co-founder Koyun tells us. Growing up, the pair would receive stickers from their parents or teachers as rewards. They fell in love with collecting stickers, making sticker books, and eventually started buying them for their friends in the States when they moved there for school. Years later, the sisters almost forgot their love for stickers until one day they were reminded.

Koyun was looking for stickers and cards to write to kids for the Cards of Hope program she volunteered for. “I came across stores on Etsy selling products that I was familiar with and noticed a lot of them were from Asia,” Koyun shares. Being a marketing professional herself, Koyun thought this would be a fun opportunity to work on, outside of work. From there, she teamed up with her sister Kochin and the Sticky Rice Sisters brand was born, now offering stickers, washi tape, and tons of stationery accessories.

SmileABCs Sticky Rice Sisters–The image shows Koyun and Kochin smiling side by side, each displaying several packs of stickers.
Koyun (left) and Kochin (right) are the founders of Sticky Rice Sisters.

Sticking together from across the globe

If you’re a small business owner or know one, you know running it, is  hard work. For the Sticky Rice Sisters, Koyun and Kochin, this was no different. Each of them balances managing the store while maintaining a full-time job. And did we mention they do it from opposite sides of the world?

Koyun manages the ecommerce store in San Francisco, California while collaborating with her sister, Kochin who lives in Taiwan and helps with sourcing and inventory. The pair not only needs to coordinate communicating with one another, but communicating with their brand community.

Koyun and Kochin often engage with their customers through Instagram live videos, sharing new products, answering questions, and just taking the time to connect with their fans. They’re also active on Facebook, Tik Tok, and Pinterest, allowing customers to reach them wherever they are.

“My favorite thing about Sticky Rice Sisters is the stationary and sticker community–it is so fun and everyone is so creative.”
- Koyun

Koyun and Kochin set out to share their passion and culture with others, but somewhere along the way they got inspired by their customers too. “There is no right or wrong way to use stickers or any stationery and we love seeing how others use them! We don’t see ourselves as the most creative or crafty people, so our customers inspire us with their creations all the time.”  

Despite being separated by the Pacific, the two sisters were able to create a thriving online community with customers around the world.

Sticky Points

Sticky Rice Sisters launched their loyalty program, Sticky Points in January 2022 to reward repeat customers. Customers earn 10 Sticky Points for every dollar they spend and are also able to earn points for signing up, following on Instagram, and celebrating a birthday.

“We love how we are now able to reward our loyal customers with free shipping and coupons (aka free money to spend in the store).” 

Customers can also earn discounts through the brand’s referral program. With both referring and referred customers earning a $5 reward, Sticky Rice Sisters has taken advantage of the benefits of a referral program.

How to Build the Best Referral Program in 2023
Implementing a world-class referral rewards program gives your customers the nudge they need to start recommending your store to their friends.

Advice for business owners

Sticky Rice Sisters celebrated its third business birthday in July 2022 and it’s safe to say they’ve learned a few things along the way. “It’s crazy to think we started the store with less than 20 products and now have over 2,000 different stickers, washi tape, and stationery!” From maintaining work-life balance to celebrating your wins, Koyun shares some of the most important lessons she’s learned.  

“One thing we have learned is to show up and keep going!”
- Koyun

“Just show up via social media, emails, or any other way so customers know you are around so they can support you. There are definitely times when we want to give up but we keep pushing forward and trying different things because you never know what will happen next,” Koyun tells us.

SmileABCs Sticky Rice Sisters–The image shows the Sticky Rice Sisters logo–a yellow background with a cartoon image of the two sisters’ heads in a bowl of sticky rice with a blue banner in front of the bowl that says “Sticky Rice Sisters”.
The Sticky Rice Sisters logo.

After starting a new full-time job in 2021, Koyun had to learn how to prioritize the store outside of her job. Her biggest piece of advice to other small business owners who may be balancing other jobs is to have clear processes in place. “Luckily we had set up a process for new releases, creating content, and fulfilling inventory so we were able to run the store efficiently.”

We know that starting a business is intimidating. But Koyun challenges you to just start and learn as you go. “You will never be 100% ready so just start now and learn and improve as you go. If you keep waiting for the ‘right moment,’ or wait until ‘you’re ready,’ you have already lost time you could’ve used to learn on the job or make mistakes.” Afterall, the best ideas often are born out of a ‘failure’.  

“You will make mistakes, things won’t go as planned, and you might not have customers to start, but you will learn.”

“In the beginning, not a lot of people will know you, so it doesn’t matter what you do, you can try anything you want, and figure out what works and doesn’t. As you have more customers or followers, you will start to get better and they will also help you, encourage you, and support you. Just start, and learn as you go.”

Sticky Rice Sisters was also featured as one of our amazing merchants in our newsletter Talking Shop. If you want to hear more small business stories and get advice from their founders, be sure to subscribe to Talking Shop!

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