Pet-lover and designer of cat furniture, Kwanchanok Amorntananuban shares how her cardboard products have captured the hearts of customers at the year’s biggest gift and furniture trade show held by the DITP.
The 43rd Bangkok International Gift Fair and Bangkok International Houseware Fair (BIG+BIH 2017) held in April 2017 proved a great success, attracting over 52,000 visitors and generating approximately US$25.6 million over five days.
One of the most popular product categories at this year’s fair was pet products with an exclusive zone called ‘Pet Parade’ showcasing pet furniture, grooming products, clothing and other innovative and stylish pet-related products made in Thailand.
Kwanchanok Amorntananuban is a manufacturer of pet furniture who gained much attention from international distributors and buyers at this year’s show.
“Kafbo has been exhibiting at BIG+BIH since 2015, and this year, pet products are much more prominent at the fair,” says the founder and creative director of Kafbo, a brand of furniture for cats that doubles as home decoration items.
Kafbo, which is a wordplay on “craft” and “cardboard”, utilizes a special compression technique that makes the cardboard pet homes highly durable and eco-friendly. These homes, designed with functionality in mind, serve as scratching pads where cats can climb, sit, sleep and play without destroying their owners’ furniture.
“I have four cats and a dog, and my family already manufactures cardboard pallets, so I started experimenting with different designs for cat homes,” says Amorntananuban. After several trials and errors, she succeeded in producing her first collection of animal-shaped scratching boards called “9lifers” which attracted interest from many buyers at BIG+BIH 2015.
In the past year, Kafbo has seen an improvement in design and packaging, with its third and latest collection, ‘Castle Cube’ flat-packed to bring down transportation costs.
Amorntananuban says that she owes much of her success to the DITP.
“Since the beginning, I had a lot of support from the DITP,” she says. “I took advantage of the many courses and training programmes arranged by the DITP, which guided me through the steps of exports, taxes and generally how to do business with overseas customers.”
She adds that working with the DITP gave Kafbo a chance to participate in business matching activities and tradeshows abroad which greatly increased the brand’s exposure and led to distributors gaining more interest in her product. Now, Kafbo has distributors in Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany and France, with future plans to export to Taiwan.
“I think there’s a lot of room for growth in the pet market,” she says. “It may seem like a niche market, but actually people are now treating pets like children and are willing to spend on them. In Thailand, products related to cats are selling really well.”
Words by Pimsirinuch Borsub