One year on, and a SALE

  • by 100 Good Things
  • April 3rd, 2016
  • 2016, April

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I asked for a window seat at the airline check-in counter when I was on my way home from Thailand two weeks ago. I would never voluntarily sit by the window if I could help it.

From my seat, it appeared the plane was cruising oh-so-slowly or even stationary. Among the voluminous clouds, I spotted another plane nearby. It flew so fast it was out of sight in under a minute. Only the moon, nearly a perfect circle as a full moon was due a few days later, was a constant.

Obviously my plane’s perceived slow motion was a state of mind. You bet passengers in the other plane were musing about their lack of my speed compared to my plane that appeared to be throttling ahead.

There have been many moments in life when I was impatient for progress to happen. With the benefit of hindsight now, I realized so many lessons quietly unfolded while I was busy tapping my feet, waiting for change that’s slow to arrive.

While working on a deeper pose on the yoga mat, it’s not sheer brute strength that will land the body in the final pose. Surrendering so I can bend deeper, I also let go of so many things emotionally and in my physical living space. The change in the latter appears to be more pronounced only because emptiness has vibrations so pure and crisp it refreshes immediately.

The day I opened my newly pared down closet to find only belongings that absolutely spark joy, it dawned on me my life is empty yet full. The change that brought me here was constant. I did not see it until I had the privilege of walking far enough to look back.

So 100 Good Things turns a year young this month. We lost track of time when we were consumed by necessary business. Merchandising. Marketing. Operations. Finance. It has been one steep learning curve after another. Certainly everything felt stagnated when we were wading in deep waters. We got to shore and another journey has just begun.

One year on, the memory of us scrambling at the 11th hour to put finishing touches to the shop is still vivid.

Being an entrepreneur – or mamapreneur – this late in life was a big leap of faith. It would not have been possible without a dedicated yoga self-practice that I draw strength from. Truly. And a deep conviction that sustainability and wellth (wealth + well) are the only way forward. I like to think this is a natural progression from two decades in travel and wellness writing, on top of a lifelong pursuit of natural living.

The short poem pictured in this blog, written in a plane on the way home from Vientiane after I was touched by its profound simplicity, is on the shop window. It is the very founding principle of 100 Good Things. That you and I are weaving seemingly unrelated stories, yet, the burning forests are not only depriving orangutans of their homes, we suffer from ill health as a result of the smoke haze. Biodiversity that took centuries to build is ruined. Ecosystem is disrupted. We are losing bees due to climate change, habitat loss, and wide and rampant use of pesticides.

What is a planet without bees? The scenario would look pretty dismal: very much colorless and we end up with very little on the dining table. The world’s most hardworking creature pollinates at least one-sixth of flowering plants and 400 agricultural plants.

Our raw honey comes from hives in Northern Laos. In this part of the world, farmers naturally practice sustainable agriculture and this in turn ensures that bees that forage wild in the forest build a nectar that is untainted from industrial contaminants. These subsistence farmers are well aware of our interconnectivity. Maintaining a healthy ecosystem ensures there is constant source of nutritious food on the table.

Our range of organic cotton shawls come from Laotian cotton farmers who assiduously practice intercropping which naturally reduce pest population on top of providing nutrient-rich soil. Traditionally in Laos, a blouse woven from organically grown cotton plant is not as much an anomaly as it is in the Western world.

The same can be said of our Kampot peppercorn, where synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are eschewed. The final product enjoys a Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status, just like how sparkling wine from the Champagne region can be hailed as champagne. Attaining the PGI status is no mean feat, mind you. There are strict set of agricultural rules and practices to adhere to.

Industrialization, urbanization, greed and insanely fast pace of life have clouded the innate wisdom we have within. Most human beings are so far removed from the natural world that floral and fauna are regarded as a world unto itself. The taller the skyscraper, the wider the disconnect between man and nature, between the mind, body and spirit. The three are intertwined and dis-ease of any sprouts all sorts of diseases.

More than ever, there is an urgency to bridge this divide. The Age of Aquarius has made this possible. Journeying together, this is within reach.

Joan

Founder

We are celebrating our birthday with everybody’s favorite four-letter word, SALE. Enjoy 20% off our ethically and sustainably produced fashion items and all varieties of Kampot peppercorn.

We endeavor to open Monday to Thursday 10am – 4pm. If you don’t work in the Balestier Hill neighborhood, please call/text us to ensure we are around – tel: 9383-1047. Other hours, public holiday and weekend by appointment, with no purchase obligations.

For full content, subscribe to our e-newsletter.

How will you mark International Women’s Day?

  • by 100 Good Things
  • March 7th, 2016
  • 2016, March


This year’s International Women’s Day got this girlboss reflecting on how she has gone from volunteering at a women’s NGO to making parity the basis of this business. I envision a conscious world free from poverty, violence and discrimination. I dream of a world where girls and women are free to travel anywhere in the world without harm. As an ardent – and often solo – traveler, this dream is especially close to the heart.

Undeniably, women now enjoy access to education and career opportunities that were previously unimaginable. The places 100 Good Things chooses to source from were once upon a recent time conflict zones. War scars are still visible at many places. The social enterprises and visionary businesses we choose to work with are plugging the gaps in education and career with meaningful work that allows a person to dream a world beyond making ends meet.

Truthfully, I am inspired by the many women I meet in the course of work. I learn courage, resilience, perseverance and gratitude from the [yoga] mat and from these women who work against the odds to create change with their bare hands.

 

Our upcycled cushion covers are sewn by Kim, Vichara and Srey (pictured below, from left to right). Team leader Vichara and single mother says, “My work allows me to send my daughter to English language classes.” Re-read her story here.

Kim, Vichara and Srey

He Kheang manages 600 Kampot pepper trees. Her role is unusual in a male-dominated agriculture industry. She says, “My challenge is finding workers during the Kampot pepper harvest season. Since my husband passed away three years ago I am learning to manage the plantations.”

He Kheang

Srey below sews our upcycled Boston totes and leaf-inspired silk scarves. Her can-do attitude puts the sloths among us to shame, “My favorite job is making bags. A lot of people can do apparel. I want to do something other people can’t do, which is making bag patterns.”

Srey

Our statement clay necklaces come from a small, family run outfit where young ladies, some of them illiterate, are provided with fair wages, safe working environment and an opportunity to learn English language formally, at a daily morning class. Have you read about our clay necklaces?

Clay workshop

Our organic cotton and silk scarves are from Khamheung, now probably in her 70s, and her team of village weavers. She did not once dream the textiles she grew up weaving for domestic use are now amply supplementing nonexistent household incomes. Women now work from their safety of their own rural homes while juggling necessary familial duties. Re-read the story of our organic textiles here.

Khamheang

Would you choose to buy consciously and sustainably if you knew you would be casting a vote for the kind of world you want every time you spend money?

That world starts right here, with you.

The merchandise at 100 Good Things are sourced with care, consciousness and understanding. To purchase them, visit our showroom here. For full content, subscribe to our e-newsletter here.

Love our MacRitchie Forest

MacRitchie
My other life as a travel and wellness writer recently saw me interviewing the founders of Soneva resorts Sonu Shivdasani and Eva Malmstrom. Malmstrom and I spoke at length about Electromagnetic Field, or EMF in short, and the virtues (or woes?) of going off-grid. At environmentally conscious Soneva resorts, tech connectivity is, for better or worse, limited; instead, accessibility to the pristine nature ahead of you is limited only by the time you have at the paradisiacal locations their resorts are at located in.

To cut the long story short, the inspiring exchange was apt reminder that it is completely within our power to set the tone for the life we want to lead. By limiting tech accessibility at the resort (WiFi connection is only available at the bar and indoor villa areas; the router in your villa can be turned off), the Shivdasanis are making a statement about what they consider a priority.

You must have gone for a walk in nature and emerged reinvigorated. Notice how the mind is clearer and the light bulbs in your head, dimmed from stresses of daily living, will always be lit once again. When you live in concrete boxes and commute in similarly crowded spaces, time spent among flora and fauna can save your sanity.

In fact, “nature deficit disorder” is a term coined by Richard Louv, child advocacy expert and author of Last Child in the Woods, to describe human beings spending less time outdoors and their resulting behavorial problems. Without a doubt, nature is essential to our emotional health.

So we are aghast The Powers That Be are even considering tunneling through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve so commuters can save precious few minutes traversing the island on the Cross Island Line. There are some things in life that are a no-go zone and this is one of those.

MacRitchie Reservoir Park is one of the family’s favorite places for a stroll in nature for so many reasons. It is highly accessible yet incredibly rich in flora and fauna. How many cities in the world can boast such biodiversity within minutes of commute from a busy city center? In a Little Red Dot where everything is manicured to death, MacRitchie forest has a wilderness that appeals to us.

The above unprocessed photo, dated 2011, is timely reminiscence. For a small country with no natural resources, we are puff-up-chest proud such diverse variety of plants and animals are in our backyard. MacRitchie Reservoir Park has history dating back to the 1800s. You don’t build biodiversity the same manner you construct flats and parks.

We love MacRitchie so much it is often our go-to spot for outdoor product photography.

Photography at MacRitchie

We like to think it is completely within the power of Land Transport Authority to set a pace of progress that is expected of developed, civilized societies. Take a walk in the forest, soak in EMF-free environs, take in the diverse denizens of forest. Is a rail line that cuts through a nature reserve a true mark of progress?

Are we so disconnected from nature progress is measured by minutes shaved and money saved from irreversible damage to some of our most pristine ecosystems?

For some perspective, look at the universe from a telescope, go snorkeling, hike to the top of the mountain. The views out there will allow you to see the planet has a far richer life that is not confined to the height of the skyscraper or the length of the most extensive rail system. Conservation is never about monetary gains or losses. Simply put, you and I, First World beings have a responsibility to protect the world we live in.

The merchandise at 100 Good Things are sourced with care, consciousness and understanding. To purchase them, visit 100 Good Things store.

Hot off the kiln

How is your 2016 coming along? In season-less Singapore, we are embracing Spring Festival with a spick and span home, flowers, and of course, we see red everywhere. We don’t know about you, Chinese New Year is the only time of the year we embrace this supposedly auspicious color, albeit still rather sparingly.

CNY decor

We prefer to go bold with statement fashion accessories.

We are so thrilled to welcome new additions to our succinct fashion range. Please excuse us. It takes us slower than your regular fast fashion stores to assemble new collections or new anything. We like to think our offerings transcend the change of seasons. When we choose “timeless” over “fad,” we make conscious purchase decisions that are far more sustainable for the planet and wallet.

These necklaces are crafted from two varieties of Cambodian clay. Processing raw clay alone takes four weeks. Clay is then rolled and allowed to dry naturally. Depending on the weather, the bigger 16mm beads can take three days to dry.

This is the other thing about handmade – you can’t rush nature. We can’t emphasize enough. Our merchandise do not roll off the tables of large factories lined with sophisticated machines. Everything is crafted by hand – so two pieces are uniform – by men and women who aspire to live a life you and I have. Their work, for you, empowers and brings hope.

Everything is done in a bright, well-ventilated workshop that hires 16 young Cambodian men and women. Some women work from home. This little clay bead facility supports 20 families.

Lunch is provided and flexible working hours accommodate familial challenges. The women especially, can’t find work elsewhere as they are illiterate. Apart from being compensated fairly for their work, they work in a supportive and safe environment that allows personal and career growth. Daily English language lessons are provided in the morning, for those who want to learn it.

Surely this is one feel-good fashion accessory that takes you from the boardroom to the bar.

The ethically and sustainably produced merchandise at 100 Good Things are sourced with care, consciousness and understanding. Subscribe to our e-newsletter for the full blog and receive subscriber-only benefits.

Setting up for 2016

Phulay Bay

One moment we were bathed in light while ringing in the New Year with a Kundalini meditation practice, another week we are rolling in Chinese New Year festivities.

We have to confess we are still in a de-cluttering mode. We want to make space for change and growth. Space allows abundance to roll into our lives.

Karen Kingston’s article on clutter clearing is one article we always re-read, only because we are human and want a constant nudge and reminder.

Our intentions, or sankalpas, are powerful tools that set the tone for the life we want to live. Forget about setting 50 resolutions. How about setting a theme for the year ahead? Align. Balance. Connect. Let go. Present. Quiet. Simplify. Contemplate on a theme and center your life around this one word.

We find it helpful to set aside a quiet moment in the morning to meditate on our intentions for the day ahead.

For those who don’t practice meditation, there are practical tools on how you can manifest your ideal life.

While we are realizing our dream life, we don’t want to forget our inner world too. Think about setting goals that are less to do with ab-strength and more with mind-strength.

If you are a regular reader of our blog, you probably are aware yoga is integral to what we do. It has provided us with tools for equanimity we seek all our lives. Yoga and nature provide the answers to everything we need to know about life, and how to best live one.

Ashtanga yoga teacher Sharmila Desai could not have said it more eloquently, “As we observe our own cycles and those in nature through the practice, we come to understand that our bodies are influenced by the earth, the moon, and the sun…,” Everything is so interconnected and interdependent “I” should stand for “inter-being.”

Have you noticed how our emotional and physical bodies feel near or on moon days? Have you noticed how energetically different are greens grown in earth versus those grown hydroponically?

Kampot green pepper

Agricultural practices actually lend a great perspective on our interconnectedness. Who would be more in tune with the cycles and changes of the seasons than farmers who toil on the fields?

Kampot pepper harvest season is under way. The farmers who painstakingly hand-harvest these peppercorns are well aware what makes Kampot pepper so special and well-loved among gourmands and decorated chefs.

Never mind it being a designer peppercorn. Kampot pepper is as much about the agriculture-perfect spot between the mountains and the sea as it is about responsible practices that are far-sighted and sustainable.

Slow agriculture, minus artificially introduced growth what-nots, is a respect to the ways of the universe. When we embrace conscious living, we allow the rhythm of nature to ebb and flow organically.

The ethically and sustainably produced merchandise at 100 Good Things are sourced with care, consciousness and understanding.

Our Kampot pepper products, along with our raw forest honey, are available at Swiss Butchery on Tanglin Road and Ryan’s Grocery in Binjai Park.

Facebook
Facebook
INSTAGRAM