Life is made meaningful when we better the world in our own little ways. And many times, the best way to foster this is by encouraging a more reflective and intentional life for our community with kindness and grace.
This is the belief shared by Ciara and Wen Ling, one which has motivated them to spearhead a meaningful business of their own. But it’s having each other to share its challenges, setbacks and successes that makes this journey so worthwhile.
With a shared passion towards balance and mindfulness, Ciara and Wen Ling founded The Mindful Company – a social enterprise which seeks to inspire kindness, hope and tenacity through purposeful reminders engraved on timeless, thoughtfully designed bracelets.
The Mindful Company means more than just a business to this pair of best friends. It’s a symbol of their friendship which reflects, and celebrates the enduring bond they have forged over the years.
How did the both of you meet?
Wen Ling: It all started 4 years ago. We met serendipitously in Singapore and became fast and firm friends.
We were both from Australia – I grew up in the West Coast and Ciara from the East. We share similar backgrounds – born in Malaysia, grew up in Australia and moved to Singapore. Because of these similarities, we just got along really well. We used to meet up after work at CBD to go for runs and our friendship grew from there!
What brought you both together to start The Mindful Company?
Ciara: We both worked in corporate roles and through our corporate lives, we saw a lot of stress in life – whether from our own personal experiences, or our friends. So this idea came up. We started designing at work, but it got to a point where The Mindful Company was taking up more of our time. Hence, I decided to go full time first and Ling later joined.
“The challenge behind living a mindful life is remembering to be mindful, and hence the concept of the reminders.”
The premise behind The Mindful Company is that we hope to encourage people to live a more meaningful and mindful life. The challenge behind living a mindful life is remembering to be mindful, and hence the concept of the reminders.
Our reminders are delivered through a bracelet as it’s the thing you see when you’re typing on your computer desk. It’s a subtle reminder only you can see, not your bosses nor your clients. It’s something very personal. So that’s how the concept sort of came together.
As a result of our love for warm, natural, minimalist aesthetics, we wanted something elegant that would integrate unnoticed into an individual’s everyday life. The friendship bracelets, Reminder Band Braid, are a little less subtle – they add a pop of colour! So we are starting to bring in a little more colour and less subtlety into the designs. However, the design philosophy of making timeless reminders remain.
Wen Ling: Even before the business, we have always been in constant contact just because we are very good friends. So having a business together didn’t make a huge difference to our level of contact, as we have always been close. But sharing a business together definitely adds another layer to our friendship as we now have an additional topic to talk about all the time.
It is a privilege to be working with a friend. And it’s nice to see someone you like every day. It’s not often that you get to work with a friend and still manage that friendship because we’ve heard stories where things haven’t turned out as well. It’s challenging. But we both understand each other really well and we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Hence, we balance each other out. It has been great working together, I enjoy it.
Ciara: We balance each other really well. When we communicate, we get each other easily - it’s very quick. We also have a very similar sense of humour, so when things get tough or when we receive a challenging email, we tend to look at each other and simply start laughing.
“We go through life and business challenges together.”
The Mindful Company definitely matured our friendship. We all have friends whom we go through life’s challenges with, and with Ling, we go through life and business challenges together. We are also very big on balance. We know what’s going on with each other’s lives so we can pre-empt certain things and pressures that we have. Hence, we know when and how to allocate tasks between the both of us so we and our staff maintain some balance.
It’s definitely not easy managing the business. How do both of you overcome the challenges?
Ciara: We laugh a lot! Also, we try not to take things too seriously.
“It happened, let’s move on and work on how we can fix it.”
Wen Ling: We have to accept that in a business, not everything is going to go the way you plan it. And you just have to be flexible enough to say “it happened, let’s move on and work on how we can fix it.”
Ciara: I think that we also try to be mindful about it. It’s important to take a step back and think about what we can do about the situation, what are the first steps we need to take to rectify the situation. We try to minimse our reactivity as much as possible, and tend to use laughter or a walk to diffuse emotions.
Which are your favourite reminders?
“Joy is something which you can find within yourself, in the little things in life and that’s something we may forget to do.”
Ciara: It changes for me every 6 months because it depends on the challenges I’m facing. Last year, I really loved Joy because Joy is something which you can find within yourself, in the little things in life and that’s something we may forget to do. And these are the things which make everyday a little more pleasant.
“Gratitude reminds us that there are so many things that we can be thankful for.”
This year, I have been wearing a lot of Patience and Gratitude. Gratitude reminds us that there are so many things that we can be thankful for, and it affects how we approach challenges. You can either see it as the end of the world or approach it with the attitude of “I’m going to approach this with as healthy a perspective as possible and see how we can move forward from here.”
“We should control and manage what’s 2 steps ahead of us, and do what we can for that 2 steps.”
Patience is quite self-explanatory in a way, but I think that we live in a very fast-paced society and are always thinking 10, 20 steps ahead. What’s important is realising that sometimes what we should be focused on are the one or two steps ahead of us, and what we can do about those next two steps. It’s realising that when you approach life in steps, eventually each step will open to the next step, and life progresses.
“Things don’t happen instantly. Many things in life take steps.”
Wen Ling: I think for me, it would be Patience and One Step at a Time. I think a lot of that stems from having a baby. I had a baby girl last December and she is about to turn one which is very exciting! She’s also a reminder that everything happens one step at a time. Seeing how she has grown, the little tricks she’s picked up along the way… They serve as a reminder to me that things don’t happen instantly. Many things in life take steps.
It’s challenging to have a child as it’s a very different phase of life, especially having the baby girl and the business. I think balancing all of that and being patient not just with myself but with my family, people and situations are important.
What do you think Christmas reminds us the most on?
“It’s really about cherishing your loved ones and sitting down at a table to spend time with them. It may be cliché, but this is really what Christmas is about.”
Ciara: Gratitude. It’s really about cherishing your loved ones and sitting down at a table to spend time with them. It may be a cliché, but this is really what Christmas is about.
Wen Ling: Definitely Gratitude too. It’swhat the festive period is about. It brings families and friends together.
“We both travel quite a bit for work and leisure, so choosing the Travellers Essentials Gift Set was the perfect choice. It's full of goodies that will make travelling a little more luxurious for us!” - Wen Ling
The Travellers Essentials Gift Set is one which embodies handy travel essentials into one bag for people on the go.
Share with us one of the most special memories you shared with each other!
Ciara: I got married oversas last year and Ling was quite pregnant! But she still flew for the wedding. It meant a lot to me to have her there.
“It’s not every day that you would want to go into a business with a friend as it has its own challenges. But having Ciara ask demonstrated the faith and trust she had in me to share this with her.”
Wen Ling: It’s so hard to pick a particular memory as they are actually an accumulation of the times we have spent together. But one of the most special moments was having Ciara officially ask me if I want to co-found The Mindful Company with her. It was really meaningful to me. It’s not every day that you would want to go into a business with a friend as it has its own challenges. But having Ciara ask demonstrated the faith and trust she had in me to share this with her. That’s really nice.
What would be your advice for people with busy schedules to keep the connection with their friends and loved ones?
Wen Ling: Make time for one another. The older we get, the busier we get as well. There’s so much going on in our lives that it’s hard to make time for people who mean the most. We may not be disciplined about it as friendship takes time, especially when you don’t have the luxury of seeing each other every day. You have to organise get togethers. As we move through different life stages, it takes more effort. For example, when you graduate from high school, you slowly drift apart from that group of high school friends after going to different schools. And as you move to a different phase of life, you’re always making different groups of friends. It takes effort to keep in contact with the relationships you want to keep.
“It’s just really simple things like making time, listening to them and taking an interest in what’s happening with their lives.”
Ciara: I think that when we make time for friends and our family, it’s also important that we take an interest in them. Sometimes we meet people, and we may be too eager to talk about what’s going on in our lives and we forget to ask them how they’re doing. So it’s just really simple things like making time, listening to them and taking an interest in what’s happening in their lives.
The story of Ciara and Wen Ling reminds us that it’s the simple fundamentals which make up life. Where there are different struggles in our every day, we can still find joy, gratitude and hope within ourselves.
And the biggest blessing of them all is sharing those moments with someone special - someone who understands our truest intentions and wants to be a part of our journey.
This Christmas, it’s time to celebrate our most cherished ones by simply giving them our time and patience.
And many times, the simplest things are the best things we can give.