On Work, Life and Travel
As an introduction to new cultures, lifestyles and experiences, business travel has given me a new way of understanding and thinking, through meeting new people and learning new languages. Travelling has helped me become more culturally aware, something I’ve applied to my career in a number of ways. Working with overseas manufacturers means working alongside people from very different backgrounds, and that often requires adapting your own approaches to collaborate more effectively. Learning from these practices, I often find myself applying these methods to my daily routines back home, utilising these methods in order to communicate more effectively across the board.
One of the best pieces of advice I received when I first started to travel for work was from a senior executive colleague: "Always dress or style yourself when travelling as if you’re heading to the office". The way you present yourself to others, particularly airline or airport staff, will make a huge difference to how you’re perceived, and ultimately treated. Working in a creative environment, your style of dress or appearance can be interpreted in many different ways. I took this more as ‘dressing with confidence’, or rather ‘I should give more thought as to how I want to present myself in the world’. To me, dressing well is a form of good manners. It tells people, ‘I not only care about myself, I also care about the people I'm interacting with’.
Visiting new places and making new connections has also given me a greater understanding of the creative process. With more experiences gained through travel, the greater the connections, and a much larger bandwidth of resources at your disposal. In-person interactions are more important than ever these days, as they build trust, foster stronger relationships among colleagues, and most importantly create more collaborative opportunities, building ideas collectively to create greater productivity.
On Travelling Well
To me, travelling well means travelling with confidence. That either means through what I'm wearing, or where I'm travelling to, and for what purpose. This could also be expressed as ‘travelling authentically’.
There are so many touch points when travelling. Whether tactical or environmental, the way you present yourself should make you more confident but it should also be personalised, representative of who you are and where you are going. Ultimately, what you wear should not only look good but feel good as well.
In a way, preparing for travel, what you take with you and how you present yourself is similar to telling a story. You’re responsible for the narrative you express, through style as dictated by the destination, and dressing appropriately for the environment you’re temporarily passing through or living in.
One of the major benefits when travelling for work is the in-person engagement and interaction, which often leads to smoother productivity and decision making. Travel, of course, has its less smooth moments – delays, cancellations, interruptions – which can cause unwanted stress. It's how you choose to deal with and respond to these setbacks that makes the difference. From my experience it's best to not engage with factors that are beyond your control. Be calm, focused, and lean into adapting to any change of itinerary no matter how inconvenient. A famous quote from sailing comes to mind: "the pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects the winds to change, and the realist adjusts the sails".
On Émigré Design
Working for a global brand, there isn't a ‘typical’ routine workday since the team is so spread out. My workday usually starts at the same time most of my colleagues are winding down for the evening. Since the team works independently from one another for the most part with the exception of email, WhatsApp and weekly virtual meetings, this makes in-person touchpoints even more invaluable.
Throughout my experiences with apparel design, my approach has always been as more of a problem solver and critical thinker rather than a concept creator. Since each of us already exists within our own concept of what our style is or what we aspire to be, it's my job to execute new innovative ways to bring those concepts to fruition. How is it that you want to present yourself? How does your environment determine what you want to wear and the best way to wear it? What is the intention? How can I create a collection that not only looks good but is adaptable across environments and functions to enhance mobility and movement? How do I increase the wearer's productivity while adding comfort?
It's my purpose to create and develop materials for the world we live in and that function within multiple environments: warm, cold, wet and dry, all inspired by what’s experienced everyday, on the street, at the airport or visiting new places. I strive to create new opportunities to improve people’s lives through enhanced, thoughtful apparel choices, innovative designs and versatile materials.
Favourite hotel? Browns Hotel, London
Favourite airline? Singapore Airlines
Best airport to eat in? Singapore Changi Airport
Best meal abroad? Easter Brunch, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
Favourite city for work travel? London
Go to travel gear? Émigré
Approach to jet lag? If you can afford to, stay up no later than 11pm and then go right to bed. It’s the only way to reset the clock.
Train or plane? Plane
Formal or casual attire while travelling? Professional attire always.
Drinks en route? Booze when taking off, then water.
Short trip? Carry on
Long trip? Carry and check-in.
In-flight meal or starve? I prefer to starve!