Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.
Meet Charlyn Ding
Meet Charlyn Ding, the founder of Om & Away. She was featured in ICON, The Straits Times, Womens Weekly, LadyBoss, Yoga Travel and Beyond, Soulscape Asia, Mummyfique, Female.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, I am Charlyn Ding, the founder of Om & Away.
I am a wellness entrepreneur with two beautiful daughters. I have a background in Architecture, and did my MBA in Melbourne. I have been working in corporate all my life till I moved to Kuala Lumpur in 2013 and started a cold pressed juice business. When I moved back to Singapore in 2015, I continued on my entrepreneurial journey and started Om & Away, which I am currently running. I also teach kids yoga!
Om & Away is a wellness experience business. We link wellness seekers to their perfectly matched wellness retreat, be it a yoga retreat, a sleep retreat, pilates, or weight loss in Phuket, Bali, Ibiza or Sydney! Under Om in the City, we curate wellness events in Singapore. We build wellness experiences for hotels and business here and also have some community events for our fans who would like some fun in the city! Do join our mailing list for more details.
What got you started on your business?
I went on my first Yoga Retreat in Lombongnan in 2015. The effect that the retreat had on me was incredible, and people started asking me why I was constantly glowing. It was probably a glow from within I reckon. That’s why I wanted to spread the knowledge and availability of these retreats, and make it easier for wellness seekers to find them.
I believe that modern jet setters have become tired of their usual shopping trips and surface skimming tourist experience. I want their wellness vacation to be big on serenity and low on stress; and more importantly to find their inner peace with Om & Away.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
There are bumps and highs in every person’s life, in mine as well.
Very recently, I was separated from my family due to the MCO lockdown in Malaysia. They went to a private island of the East Coast, and could not return in time before the borders closed. We were met with speed bump after speed bump, and after we exhausted all other options, we decided to put our girls on the train back to Singapore. My husband, who is Malaysian was not allowed to leave Malaysia. Although it was only a five-minute ride, I reckon I was not able to breathe that whole 5 min that the girls were not contactable.
After I received my kids with a whole load of happiness and relief, I sunk down with the gravity of my husband not being able to return. He drove back to Kuala Lumpur.
The weeks after we spent in anxiety and distress, as timelines kept getting extended and to a stage, we had no end in sight. It was a time I really felt hopeless and that there was nothing that I could physically affect. Of course, it was very challenging managing the two girls alone, with the fears of the onset of COVID-19, the Stay Home Notice, and the eventual Home-Based Learning. Not to mention, that my work was severely impacted by the travel bans and fears of the virus. Those were bleak days.
I was in the depths of my emotions. During this time, I tried to stay upbeat for the kids. They would come to me and say they missed papa. Although I was comforting their tears, I was crying inside. I felt utterly helpless. I tried to mediate, but I just could not get in the zone. I tried to distract myself but I couldn’t. In the end, I saw a counsellor and I prayed. We prayed like crazy everyday.
In the end, one of the ministers replied to my email, and started the process of bringing my husband home. I would like to say here is that – yes we are always taught to be strong, to stay strong. However, sometimes, we just can’t, and we should not exclude seeking professional help as a resource. In fact, we should and I encourage that.
In our retreats and wellness centers, there are an endless resource of very qualified coaches and counsellors. They can help you through any physical concern that you may have (weight loss or detox), but also emotional turmoil, mental scars, that may be recently inflicted or have been with you since you were a child.
What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about the wellness industry is that everyday, people are getting better, feeling better, emotionally and physically, and thus spreading that good vibes to other people that they interact with.
What is your vision / personal motto?
My personal motto is to continually learn and grow as a person.
Who inspires you?
Jane Goodall. She was born in the 1930s and she was way ahead of her time. She is an activist for conservation and animal welfare issues. Her voice and strength has made a difference to conservation and sustainability today.
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business / starting to pursue their dream?
Have a plan. That would be my advice, to have a plan and a timeline. If the milestone is not hit by the date set, they should sit back and revaluate. It is always great to pursue a dream, but it should not be blind and unrealistic. They should create a plan, with clear goals from day 1. That would enable time and energy to be focussed on chasing their goals.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
I would say, Hold yourself with grace, and embrace imperfect moments.
What have you learnt recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
I have really come to terms with “This Too Shall Pass”. I had a personal session with a Yin Yogi and his mantra was just this. Prior to that, I always thought, “oh how lame is that”. But he explained his philosophy on this mantra.
He says that we shall not dwell too much on each individual feeling or incident, as it will eventually pass. If it is a negative situation, it would pass and turn into something good eventually. Everything moves, evolves. And so I asked,” what if it is something good? And I want to hold on to it?” To that he replied, “well, you have to make space for something BETTER.”
Well, I was mind-blown. I walked out of that session with a paradigm shift. I didn’t look at things the same any more. Incidentally, this was just before our lockdown, so this made the past 2 months easier to bear.
What do you do in your free time as self care? How do you unwind?
I do a lot more mindfulness and meditation sessions now. Before the COVID-19 lockdown, whenever I was stressed, or feel out of sorts, I just have to go for a yoga sesh, and I would be rejigged. Now I turn to mindfulness apps and do breath work and meditation sessions. They just work wonders and I feel that I can go on forever.
I enjoy unwinding with friends over drinks, just chatting. We can talk about anything from family, to work, to trends and existential ideas!
What is one thing you are grateful for?
I am very grateful to call Singapore my home. The social fabric and political climate is so secure and stable. You know the you are safe, and will be taken care of. There are a lot of daily things that we take for granted in Singapore, that you cannot find in other counties.
For example, going home on the public transport alone at night or being able to go to school with world class education that costs next to nothing.
Let us know more about what you do!
Eager to travel? It is finally time for you to have that break, that time for yourself, to do a trip to treat your soul. Plan for a retreat now – pay and travel later. Find your perfect retreat with Om & Away.
We are giving out a $200 voucher from Om & Away. Join our giveaway at The Ladies Cue Instagram page.
Connect with Om & Away!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at email@example.com or reach out to us via our social media.
Read TLC x Fempreneur Series:
- Shireena, Sheens Image Consulting
- Angelina Tan, BeauLab
- Marine Lim, Absolute PR
- Rina Lee, Rina Lee Jewellery
- Ezza Yusof, 2morrow Official (Malaysia)
- Julie Yim, Lilin+Co (Malaysia)
- Nadia, HelloBello (Malaysia)
- Zairin Azman, UMMA
The rest of the Fempreneur interviews can be found here.