This week, we launched our Inspirational Journal together with our collaborator, The Hidden Good. In the spirit of spreading good energy, we invited five women who inspire us — Bertilla Wong (co-founder, The Closet Lover), Beatrice Tan (founder, Klarra),
Aarika Lee (marketing director of Elementary Co and musician), Krystal Tan (director, Blue Sky Escapes) and The Hidden Good’s board of director Wu Jiezhen — to give us a little glimpse into their inner garden: What inspires them? Which of the five words — Joy, Still, Light, Vision or Bloom — do they feel a special connection with at this moment? How are they overcoming the challenges that have come with 2020? And more. Kicking things off, here’s our conversation with Krystal Tan.
Being still is to arrive at a place of watchfulness
Director of Blue Sky Escapes
What inspires you to do what you do?
Krystal Tan: I am inspired by the huge opportunities for personal and spiritual growth which present themselves when one journeys to their inner and outer worlds. I have experienced, first-hand, the shifts in my own worldviews, no matter how big or small, after going on an experiential journey — and it always has you emerging with a renewed sense of perspective and clarity. This is what Blue Sky Escapes stands for as a company — a more inviting and enlightened world. This drives us to help others unlock extraordinary experiences around the world which allows them to step out of their comfort zones and enrich their sense of selves.
Which word — Joy, Light, Still, Vision, Bloom — resonates most with you? What does it mean to you?
KT: I have been exploring the concept of “stillness” in the past couple of years and can say that the pandemic has presented some of the best opportunities to really grasp and tap into it as a practice. To me, being “still” is to arrive at a place of watchfulness, where you become an observer of things, thoughts and happenings as they unravel before you — and all without any judgment attached. As the Stoics say, there is no right or wrong, but it’s your opinions about things that make it so. When you’re able to quieten down, connect with your breath and simply observe, you are able to fully experience the present moment, which is really all that we’ve got. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, and I’ve discovered that a thoughtful self-care plan which includes music and a consistent meditation practice, works well for me.
How has Covid-19 impacted you, and how did you overcome it?
KT: As a travel company specialising in outbound journeys, we’re in one of the hardest hit industries which has been decimated by Covid-19. At the onslaught of the virus in February, we were busy dealing with change and cancellation requests, with many trips we spent months working on indefinitely postponed or cancelled.
When the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 to be a global pandemic on 11 March, the team decided to expand our local offering and pursue the concept of wellness staycations within Singapore. We pulled together our black book of curated, safety-screened properties and wellness personalities, and within a week, launched the offering. We received a multitude of requests for our wellness staycations, but it was relatively short-lived as the government had already begun to roll out tighter social distancing measures and there was a cloud of uncertainty in the air. We had to put our business continuity plan into action and get back to the drawing board. With our curated black book of personalities, we then began working on elevating our experiences into the virtual space.
By April, we had launched a series of expert-led, virtual workshops designed to empower our community with the holistic resources to better navigate these unprecedented times. We had morning grounding rituals and meditation sessions with certified practitioners, a conscious eating session with a mindfulness expert and personal growth workshops with thought leaders. We even hosted a number of virtual dance movements in the cloud – the Circuit Connekt (our response to circuit breaker) — to unite our community and have everyone shake off the lock-down blues. As we wanted to support vulnerable communities in Singapore most affected by the crisis, 100% of donations collected for Circuit Connekt went towards the Sayang Sayang Fund. To date, we have hosted over 20 virtual sessions and touched over 3,500 participants. It was definitely a big shift for us to “pivot” from a predominantly outbound travel company to (pretty much) an events programming company with the virtual experiences, but we found this to be most effective way to continue engaging with and growing our community.
As restrictions began to loosen, we re-focused our efforts on staycations within our shores again, offering our clients with best available rates at high-end properties, including perks and VIP amenities exclusive to us and access to a curated selection of wellness experiences (for example, mindful movement, meditation, yoga, reiki & sound healing for both adults and kids), which are also available for private bookings. We also began to craft local experiences to places in Singapore many never thought to exist. One of these is to the Last Village of Singapore — Lorong Buangkok. It’s a kampung that is home to 29 families — most of its residents don’t speak English or even own a mobile phone! It’s a wonderful chance to step back in time and understand what “kampung spirit” is truly like, or how the villagers today continue to live off the land and rely on plants for holistic remedies.
As a brand, we care very much that our clients, partners and friends come away from our experiences just that little bit enlivened, revitalised or transformed, so in keeping with our philosophy, we feel it’s important to design experiences that provide a safe space for personal growth and transformation. We’ve seen a real spike in interest in our wellness offering, with people finally taking time out for themselves to reflect and recharge. It’s wonderful to see how the pandemic has somehow facilitated a kind of awakening in others, with more people coming out of their shells to self-reflect and question their place in the universe.
I think what has kept us in business today has been the team’s culture of curiosity and reflection — we ask ourselves these questions constantly: What experiences deliver an emotional impact? How do we facilitate a positive shift in the deeper layers of a person? I believe this hunger to explore is what has kept us agile and driven continuous growth and innovation. We are currently in the midst of rolling out a new wellness initiative that I’m deeply passionate about. More details will be coming up soon, do stay tuned.
Share with us one inspirational quote you live by.
KT: “Reason shows us there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” — Seneca
Who would you gift the journal(s) to, and why?
KT: I’d gift it to one of my closest and oldest friends, Darius. He was a poet and would appreciate the writings in there. Like many of us, his current work has been all-consuming and taken him away from his deepest passions. My hope is that the journal will encourage him to return to writing again.
Stay tuned to our next conversation with Jiezhen that will be coming up soon.
(Photos courtesy of interviewees.)