Cover Rebecca Ting, co-founder and creative director of Beyond the Vines

Working full-time and being a mum is no walk in the park. Here, Rebecca Ting shares how she maintains a balance between her career and children, her go-to routine for self-care, and how she led the brand to leverage social media and drive business growth amidst the pandemic

Rebecca Ting’s morning starts with “chaos”. This, she tells me, is due to her two young boys under the age of five. 

“It’s really a mad rush in the morning, it’s insane,” she reveals over a Zoom call from her office. “I wake up at about seven in the morning and settle the kids and drive them to school. Some mornings, I hit the gym—I don't really work out, I just like to walk a little to get some headspace—before going for breakfast and getting into the office by ten.”   

When I compliment her productivity, she laughs. “In between everything, there’s a lot of screams and chaos coming from my two boys. Honestly, just getting them to the door—it’s so much more challenging than managing a team of adults!”

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Ting is the co-founder and creative director of local multidisciplinary design studio Beyond the Vines, where she “manages and overlooks the creative teams, whether it’s design, marketing, or the storefront with visual merchandising”. She founded the then-womenswear label in 2015, alongside her husband Daniel Chew. 

In the tail end of 2020, the duo introduced a brand refresh that saw Beyond the Vines pivot from womenswear-only to a full design studio offering ready-to-wear clothing, accessories, and even homeware.

The rebrand was already in the making since 2019, Ting tells me. “Daniel and I are very purpose-driven, and I felt like it was necessary to put more thought into the business. At that point, we felt that the brand had no voice in a sense; it was not making any impact in our community at large and was really just about putting stuff out.” 

When the pandemic hit our shores, this accelerated the refresh. “When Covid-19 hit, I think our approach was the opposite of the businesses that chose to lay low and hibernate,” says Ting. “We felt like we needed to double down and make that disruption during a difficult time.”

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This boldness to embrace change is one of the many components behind the success of Beyond the Vines. The digitally-savvy brand was quick to leverage the use of social media platforms and live streams to drive a connection with its consumers, especially during the lockdown. 

“Back then, live streams were very fresh, especially in the local landscape. When we started live streaming, the objective was very clear that it was for conversations and not for conversion,” explains Ting. “We didn't want to have layers between us and the consumers; we wanted to speak directly to the community and they were the perfect platform as they’re extremely raw and authentic—you can't really filter the comments on livestreams.”

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Ting, a natural introvert, found hosting live streams to be “extremely difficult at the start”, but quickly grew accustomed to it.

“It was very daunting, but when we decided to open up ourselves as a brand, the consumers started to speak back to us. I think that really broke it, and it just opened a floodgate that created huge engagement,” she recalls. “Social media to us is not just a marketing platform. I think it really is the bridge between us and consumers. We’re literally communicating directly to the community.”

Ting’s resilience in overcoming challenges is apparent, even in her personal life. I bring up the topic of working mums’ guilt, where women often feel guilty for chasing their careers and seemingly missing out on meaningful time with their children. 

“I think that it’s very real, and I definitely struggled with that in the first few years of raising the kids,” says Ting. “ I had a chat with someone, and she told me that it was much better to have the one hour you have with the kids before they go to bed where they’ll be able to have 100 percent of you, versus being a stay-home mum when you don’t want to be, and you're just grumpy with the kids all the time because you're so frustrated.”

It also helps that Ting avoids blurring the boundaries of work and family time. “[Daniel and I] made a clear distinction that when we reach home we generally don’t talk about work. We pick the boys up, bring them to the playground and have ice cream and do silly things with them. They really have us wholeheartedly. I do hope that they are very proud of us when they get older,” she says with a smile. 

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Staying pragmatic and clear-headed are two key ingredients in her winning formula of success.

“I think understanding, accepting, and working with reality is both practical and beautiful in a way. Dreaming is great and important—it adds flavour to life. But being hyper-realistic and extremely self-aware is crucial, because you'll then find out in the early stages if you should chase certain dreams,” she asserts. “If you’re building a business, don’t be afraid to acknowledge your weaknesses; look for solutions, and amplify your strengths instead.”

I think understanding, accepting, and working with reality is both practical and beautiful in a way
Rebecca Ting, co-founder of Beyond the Vines

Here, Ting shares more about her work routine, her self-care practices, and her thoughts behind Beyond the Vines’ cult-favourite Dumping Bag. 

What does a standard work day look like for you? 

Rebecca Ting (RT): I break my week out, where each day of the week I basically meet with different departments. For example, Tuesdays are dedicated to marketing, and so I focus on everything and anything to do with marketing on that day. Of course, there might be shoots and emergency ad-hoc matters, but I don’t deep-dive into unrelated campaigns if it’s outside of the day. 

I started adopting this method about two years ago, and I’ve found that it has worked better for me in terms of being more objective and making decisions quickly. So, we typically jump into meetings in the morning, and deal with other matters after. 

We then pick up the boys from school in the evening. Daniel and I go out on Tuesdays—we do that on a weekly basis—because we work with each other and see each other with the kids every day, so it's important to set time aside for just the two of us. For the other days of the week, we have dinners at home with the boys, and then we get them to bed.

It’s been a year on since Beyond the Vines’ brand refresh. How has the new direction been like, so far? 

RT: Honestly, I think the last year has been extremely rewarding. It’s the team spirit as well–when we rebranded, the team was slightly hesitant because truthfully, we didn’t have to change as the brand then was doing well. The team took the risk together with us and gave their full hundred per cent involvement, so it’s been extremely rewarding and fruitful to watch the brand being well-received. 

How did the iconic Dumping Bag come about?

RT: Technically, we first designed the bag in 2019 with only two or three colours. In 2020, we realised people stopped shopping for ready-to-wear (RTW) because nobody was going out. We made a decision on a strategic level to focus on the bag as it was something accessible, and people didn't have to try it on.

As a design team, we dissected the design of the bag and tried to see how we can improve it further, whether it’s the finishing, straps, buckles. We then launched it again—on livestream, of course—just to walk the customers and the community through our design and sampling process. We now have 10 colours, and also 10 seasonal colours. 

As a leader yourself, what are your thoughts on some of the most admirable qualities a leader should embody? 

RT: I think being present is very important. You cannot lead from afar, and people don't want to follow a leader that they cannot see. 

For me, when it comes down to the design work or sampling issue or photoshoots, I think it's important to be with the team in the trenches, even more in tough times like the pandemic. 

A leader should always be the first man in, last man out.  

Risks: should you take them? Why or why not? 

RT: I am naturally quite risk averse, while Daniel makes very calculated decisions. We definitely balance each other out. I feel like because we are both extremely self-aware people, we are more level-headed when it comes to taking risks.

The retail scene is undoubtedly competitive. How do you deal with the challenges? 

RT: To us, we see retail as a place that people come to have a good time. I think on a creative aspect, a lot of my energy goes into what the customers will experience at the stores.

For us, retail needs to be very immersive, whether it’s the stores, visuals, service, vibe, and thus, I make sure that the full user journey is extremely tailored. 

Of course, the by-product of customers enjoying the experience is them wanting to take a piece of the brand home. 

What can we expect next from Beyond the Vines? 

RT: I think we're looking at quite a couple of exciting collaborations with international brands next year. Exciting times! Our next steps will also focus more on direct-to-consumer (DTC) digitally, whether through social or through other platforms, to really grow the design-centric communities around the region.

How do you cope with stress? Do you have any self-care routines? 

RT: I think that my ability to hold pressure is quite high. Over the years, I’ve found—and Daniel has helped me—an ideal way to decompress. I actually de-stress the best in silence. 

I do that almost on a daily basis after we put the kids to bed. I like to hang out on my own in my room. I know people meditate, I don’t really do that. I just like being in silence, which really helps me—it's also very cheap and easy to maintain! (laughs) That usually takes half an hour, sometimes an hour, and then afterward I join Daniel to watch television.

What is the last thing you do before you go to bed? 

RT: I kiss my two boys. Obviously, they are the cutest when they're asleep, because they don't make a sound.

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