Cover Willabelle Ong

When it comes to dealing with life’s lemons, our Tatler community knows how to roll with the punches and put together a cool drink of lemonade

2020 introduced us to remote working, having travel plans up in the air and living with a lot of uncertainty—and 2021 has shown us more of the same. As we close this year’s chapter, we ask 8 of our fellow Tatler friends to retrospect and share with us how they made the best out of a sticky situation. From connecting to hundreds of thousands of fans on TikTok to deepening personal relationships offline, learning a new language or honing an old skill, it's clear there’s no stopping them from making the best of another tough year. 

Read more: Millionaires Around the World are Redefining Luxury During the Pandemic

1. Liquan Liew and Estella Ng, artist duo behind Ripple Root

“With everyone staying at home, we were able to fit in interesting custom pieces for homes that reflect the owner and find its unique place in the world. As a self-initiated project, we’ve made calendars with fun and festive drawings as a way to look forward to the next year. This 2022 calendar comes with every painting commission order from now till stocks last!

It’s always a pleasure to discover mission-driven companies: this year we found MiiR. The B Corp makes reusable, stainless steel vessels that fund their project focused on clean water, conservation and community growth. We’re also launching a custom line of MiiR products soon with Common Man Coffee Roasters, so keep a lookout! Last but not least, we’re loving the recently launched Wild Child Pizzette from the Cicheti Group. What’s not to love about a yummy 10-inch wood-fired pizza made from slow-fermented dough sans the carb coma!”

Don’t miss: Wild Child Pizzette by The Cicheti Group Debuts in Singapore

2. Dr Kevin Chua, doctor and owner of Dr Kevin Chua Medical & Aesthetics

“This year, we really jumped into the digital world with our practice. My wife and I realised how we could pivot towards technology and embrace telemedicine through an app called DoctorAnywhere. This allows us to be part of the team to treat patients with Covid-19 during their home recovery, as we progress through the transition phase. On the personal front, I discovered that rock climbing is a great way to burn calories and maintain weight. Plus, we got to dine in Sommer before it received its Michelin star. What a great opportunity!”

Don’t miss: Couples Who Work Together: Iroshini and Kevin Chua

3. Willabelle Ong, founder of W&R Creative

“I started my TikTok account last year due to the lockdown and recently achieved a milestone with more than half a million followers. Beyond the numbers, it’s truly gratifying to showcase a facet of my personality on this platform and have brands looking to collaborate on creative, even tongue-in-cheek, campaigns on Tiktok. Usually, I eagerly look forward to travelling overseas to reset my mind. Now, I’ve discovered that serenity can be found in our own backyard. Whether it’s enjoying breakfast amid the grandeur of The Raffles Hotel or reconnecting with nature amidst the lush greenery at Capella Singapore, these local getaways are similarly revitalising.

This year, I’ve learnt to look past the design and fixate on the enduring history and functional considerations of watchmaking. A prime example is the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 that was created for the ease of a driver. Its dial is rotated at the correct angle for easy viewing and makes so much sense when I place my hand on the steering wheel.”

Read more: The Best Women's Watches to Shop For

4. Ow Yau Png, CEO and co-Founder at Hoow Foods

“Despite the ongoing pandemic, we were able to secure a pre-Series A round of SG$3 million for my food tech start-up Hoow Foods, and launch a sustainable plant-based subsidiary, Hegg. Hegg is our new plant-based ‘egg’ and focuses on developing healthier and environmentally friendly sustainable plant-based alternatives that are also cruelty-free. We hope that Hegg could also contribute towards local food security.

There’s nothing better than rediscovering local delicacies, in my case local coffee! I can’t go anywhere without a sachet of Nanyang-style ‘kopi-o’ or fresh roasted beans from Killiney Kopitiam. I’ve had the chance to rediscover another passion, this time for tennis. It not only trains the body to be fit and agile but sharpens the mind and helps me be more concentrated. I’ve been following Novak Djokovic’s incredible Grand Slam journey all calendar long!”

5. Lawrence Wong, actor and founder Of Grail

“One important lesson I learnt this year is that we have to invest in ourselves now more than ever. We have to take care of ourselves and show a lot of love. This difficult situation has also given us a chance to prove to ourselves that we are strong and resilient by nature, and we can all conquer our adversities triumphantly. Between working hard and filming project after project, I am proud to say I have launched my personal skincare brand Grail this year!

It’s been a long dream of mine to have my own brand and I found the opportunity to materialise it during this pandemic. Not an easy feat, but I’m excited I did it. We are a small start-up without the advertising power of huge cosmetic conglomerates, but I hope people will discover and believe in Grail because of our formulations and the consideration for the environment. This is so important today because life is more than us as individuals, but as a collective together with the planet. The world has to thrive, in order for us to thrive.”

Don’t miss: How Lawrence Wong Started His Own Skincare Brand During the Circuit Breaker

6. Priyanka Natarajan, general manager at Century Wines

“After a year of what felt like relentless uncertainty, I chose to focus on two things—self-development and human connection. Since travel and social activities with friends have been taken away from us, I realised learning was a great way to fill the void. I completed my MBA, I completed another WSET level certification to supplement my passion for wine and I read a lot! I am immensely proud of myself for having the courage to take ownership and responsibility for my own happiness. More so, looking inward helped me proactively rekindle and deepen the relationships I hold near and dear. This exercise took genuine strength, but it made me mindful of the importance of maintaining meaningful connections.

We’ve taken for granted the privilege to move about freely, but now no more. I’ve greatly enjoyed being a part of the SWEAT by Kayla community, as well as ROVO, an app that brings sports players together. Whether it’s working up a sweat at home or meeting a new tennis buddy, there’s always a great way to keep active and feel good. On the note of feeling good, I discovered a great natural, vegan and cruelty-free skincare brand called BYBI. Their mission to balance efficacious ingredients with the planet’s wellbeing is inspiring. Their strawberry cold-pressed oil is liquid gold and always hops from handbag to handbag.”

7. Karen Ong-Tan, former lawyer and full-time mum

“We didn’t expect how much busier this second year of the pandemic would be for us, but we remain grateful for every step from remotely managing overseas projects to reprioritizing our household’s sustainability habits. While I believe we can’t take full credit for anything since we don’t truly start from a black canvas, I am proud of my personal decisions and actions since they are intrinsically tied to my family, especially my daughter, Kara. Our family is taking on actions to facilitate a greater contribution to what matters to us such as sustainability and communication. Kara and I are learning German and sign language to promote social inclusivity and connect with more individuals within our society—and even beyond our borders.

Sustainability is a big word, one where we need to act towards an active solution, or else we are part of the problem. We coordinated with individuals with incredible initiatives as well as audited our food waste management processes and decided to consolidate deliveries, find ways to reuse and recycle packaging, compost food waste and rehome household items. We were introduced to geocaching and the whole family, including the dogs, fell in love with it. A must-have is the Happy Project basque cheesecakes, set up by a friend who has personally baked more than 600 cheesecakes to date and donates 100% of proceeds to various causes in Indonesia. Now, I’ve never been a fan of cheesecake but this is simply divine and too good to pass on.”

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