Cover Kaye Dong, who founded The New Moon following an eye-opening experience in Bhutan (Photo: Stephanie Tang for Tatler Hong Kong)

Kaye Dong takes aesthetics into account at her online spirituality store, The New Moon, which features contemporary, design-led ritual tools

It’s a busy morning in Kaye Dong’s home. She’s in the process of moving to a new house in Hong Kong, her youngest daughter is upstairs having a sleepover with a friend and her foster daughter Ava is having her breakfast in the kitchen.

She’s also preparing to fly to her hometown of Melbourne, Australia that evening to be with her eldest daughter who attends boarding school there. Amid the madness, she still asks if she can offer me a cup of tea or something to eat.

Multitasking is Dong’s speciality. Her design firm, The Good Studio, is behind projects such as Phvlo Hatch, a vintage-inspired shophouse that combines a café and retail space in Hong Kong’s Sham Shui Po district. The project took home the social award at the Frame Awards, from the interior design magazine, in 2020. Her non-profit organisation K For Kids, meanwhile, has been helping to support and empower children from disadvantaged backgrounds, including providing foster care.

Her latest venture, and today’s subject, is The New Moon: an online shop selling new age tools that have a contemporary edge, which she launched on November 15, 2020. That was on the new moon in Scorpio, which was a deliberate choice, of course.

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“On my own spiritual journey, I started looking for items to buy for the home that I could use in my daily rituals,” Dong says. “I have a design studio, so aesthetics are important to me, and I realised there wasn’t one place where you could find this cohesive selection of modern, design-led pieces.”

The seed for The New Moon was planted when Dong began her own wellness journey, starting with meditation. “I realised that a lot of my anxiety comes from not being present. When I’m at work, I feel like I should be at home. When I’m at home, I’m worried about work. Meditation was instrumental in helping me stay focused and present,” she says.

But it was on a solo trip to Bhutan that she had her “a-ha” moment, after a hike to reach Paro Taksang, or Tiger’s Nest, the sacred Himalayan Buddhist site that sits precariously 3,000 metres above the Paro Valley.

“When I got to the monastery, I was captivated by its pure beauty. I would even say there was a strange sense of familiarity,” Dong says. “We went into a small room, where we closed our eyes and meditated and I began to cry. I felt this overwhelming gratitude, knowing that there was nothing to fear, and certainty that the path I’ve been wanting to take, which was The New Moon, was the right one.”

The New Moon sells organic smokeless incense by Bodha, chakra-aligning crystal sets, 22-karat-gold-lined ceramic abalone shells for holding palo santo or sage, and something called Inner Compass Cards, which I notice sitting on her long wooden dining table.

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"They function a little like tarot or oracle decks. You can pick one or several cards whenever you feel like you need some guidance or perspective,” says Dong. On the Inner Compass company website, creator Neel van Lierop describes the cards as “activated from a combination of ancient wisdoms linking Mayan mythology, Taoism, Buddhism and the I Ching."

A personal favourite of Dong’s is a concrete dome diffuser made of lava rocks that soak up aromatic solutions by Photogenics + Co, a modelling agency-turned-aromatics brand from Los Angeles. “The idea of that cross-discipline really resonates with me because I’ve always struggled to tell anyone, simply, what I do,” she says. “I think society gives us this pressure to follow a singular path, to be able to say, ‘I’m an architect’ or ‘I’m a doctor’. I’m always inspired by brands, or people, who dare to do a bit of everything.”

More than a store, Dong has made The New Moon an educational tool for women like herself who are on their own spiritual path, inviting experts in various wellness modalities to share their wisdom on her platform, like Zoey Gong, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, and Kimberly Peta Dewhirst, a Hong Kong-based astrologer.

“I am by no means positioning myself as a wellness expert,” Dong says. “This is a platform for the modern woman and I would say the modern woman is a multihyphenate. We wear many hats and do many things. At the same time, we’re nurturers at home and a best friend to someone else. The New Moon is a place to seek wisdom, read stories and perhaps find a piece that can bring joy and colour to their life.” 

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