“I wish for others to enjoy nature’s benefits”
Lucinda Law, 40, Botanical Artist, Founder of Within
“Three years ago, my life changed over the course of two months: I left a relationship of 10 years and my 20-year-old cat passed away.”
These dramatic events were the catalyst for Lucinda to take a five-month sabbatical from her job as a senior lecturer at LASALLE College of the Arts, and retreat into nature.
“I had a strong, instinctive calling to be in nature,” says the botanical watercolour artist, writer and educator, who spent the next few months immersed in it – from scuba-diving in Gili Air, Indonesia, to living on a ketch in Takaka, in New Zealand’s South Island. “In a series of synchronicities from Gili to New Zealand, my experiences awakened a deep affection for nature. At times, I felt as though I was being wooed by Mother Nature.” And it was there amongst the flora and fauna that Lucinda found respite, healing and a newfound calling.
A year later in 2016, driven by her blossoming passion and keen awareness of nature’s intrinsic ability to enhance one’s wellness and creative potential, Lucinda quit her job and founded Within, a nature-led creative studio that holds nature-inspired creative retreats and botanical art workshops, and delivers commissioned works and projects for well-known names like Chanel and The Fullerton Hotels.
“It was an incredible opportunity for me to be able to translate my teaching and writing skills, course programming and conceptual development skills into my nature-led workshops and courses at Within,” she shares.
“I feel that art, nature and beauty come together beautifully. There is so much beauty in nature that inspires and affects every single thing we do. Did you know that some of the first things homo sapiens drew were botanical subjects? I like to think that in our workshops and design works we’re responding to something primal, but done in contemporary ways,” she says.
“Through our work in art and nature, I help others live out their truest, most creative and authentic selves.”
Although she admits that the corporate work sometimes makes it hard for her to spend time with friends and family, or focus on more self-directed projects, Lucinda has found true meaning in it.
“Through our work in art and nature, I help others live out their truest, most creative and authentic selves,” she explains. “And I listen to my instincts. My research is simply what speaks to my heart directly, for instance visiting a nature spot like the Botanic Gardens, and is the foundation for the happiness and success behind all my projects.”
“The more I create, the more I can share the benefits of working with nature with our community, which keeps me very driven and happy,” Lucinda shares. “This year, my team and I will conduct more nature-led art courses to help improve the well-being of city-dwellers. There will also be more exciting overseas creative retreats, collaborations and exhibitions.”
Take a look at some of her works in the gallery below:
To book an art workshop or creative retreat, or make an enquiry, visit within.sg or email email@example.com.
“I get to do things I love on my own terms”
Angeline Neo, 42, Founder of The Modern Bibik
For the past four to five years, Angeline has been working as a freelance writer, a move that offers her a more flexible work schedule so she can pursue her other great love – food.
In 2015, she started The Modern Bibik (TMB), a boutique caterer and private dining service specialising in modern Peranakan food. “I was motivated to preserve the nostalgic and authentic flavours from traditional cuisines, while infusing it with a new, modern vibe to excite the palette.”
The strategy is simple: She goes to your home to whip up meals for you and your guests, or you can dine at hers for a supper club experience. Then there are also restaurant collaborations and catering for private and corporate events.
“I didn’t set out to do private dining and I still have no plans to open a restaurant. I want to make Peranakan culture, tradition and history relevant and interesting to more people. Making Peranakan food came naturally – I come from a family of good cooks – but it can just as easily apply to other traditional cuisines.”
“The Modern Bibik is an outlet for creativity, much like how others paint or write poetry.”
Angeline’s passion for cooking and communal dining runs in her blood. She cites her grandmother as a shaping influence and one of her greatest inspirations, and says TMB is a way of paying tribute to her.
READ MORE: Unique Ways To Use Pandan In Your Cooking
“To my grandmother, food was a way of showing her love, whether you were kith or kin. She would either have people over or cook dishes and send them over,” Angeline gushes. “My grandmother was more than just a great cook; each dish was truly a labour of love that turned even the simplest of meals into a feast.”
“All my rempahs (spice blends) are made from scratch and founded on my grandmother’s traditional recipes, but with a modern spin,” says Angeline. For instance, she makes Babi Asam crostinis, rum-infused ondeh ondeh and a mean Bibik Bouillabaisse (mussel stew done with rempah and coconut milk).
“Every day is a learning curve when you start your own passion business, especially if it’s something you want to personalise.” And while money was tight, she rolled with the punches and let the start-up grow organically.
“TMB is an outlet for creativity, much like how others paint or write poetry. It allows me to do the things I love on my own terms, and if I can get some money off it, good; if the satisfaction of a good meal brings people joy, even better.”
See some of the mouth-watering dishes from Angeline’s menu in the gallery below:
For reservations or enquiries, visit facebook.com/themodernbibik or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s fulfilling knowing I’m helping pets lead healthier lives”
Gigi Sng, 29, Freelance MakeUp Artist and Founder of Vastitude
When Gigi’s childhood dream of owning a pet dog was realised 11 years ago, it sparked a fresh desire to ensure that all fur kids, not just hers, lead healthier and longer lives.
“I have two Pomeranians, Baby and Milky. Back then, they only ate kibble, but I felt that feeding them dry food every day is like a human being eating dry biscuits all the time,” says the enterprising woman, who has also been taking on freelance jobs as a hair and makeup artist for the past decade.
READ MORE: 10 Human Foods To Never Feed Your Pets
“Although makeup is also a passion of mine, it was never really something I could call my own,” she says. This realisation, coupled with her great love for animals, propelled her to start Vastitude in 2016, producing Singapore’s first vet-approved sous vide-cooked pet food made without additives or preservatives.
“I told myself that if I didn’t give it a go, I’d never know the answer.”
It came after months of meticulous research, food trials and recipe advice from vets and a chef friend, all while juggling her freelance commitments. “It was challenging, as I was doing everything myself from cooking the food to packing and delivering it to customers,” Gigi shares.
“And cooking sous-vide food isn’t just a 15-minute process. You need low temperatures and long hours to retain the ingredients’ nutrients, and make the meat more tender.”
Besides the physical demands, she also had to work through self-doubt and fear. “I thought: ‘What if nobody ordered the food? What if there were no sales?’ But I told myself that if I didn’t give it a go, I’d never know the answer,” she says.
Gigi also creates customised dog food called Derma Diets to help canines with skin allergies, and she has opened a pet-friendly social event space for owners to celebrate special occasions. “To me, animals and pets, especially dogs, are the most genuine beings on earth,” she says. “It’s very therapeutic to see them after a long, stressful day of work, because the moment you are home they will be wagging their tails to welcome you back.”
Click through the gallery to see some of her creations that look good enough for humans:
Visit vastitude.sg to make orders online.
Text: Elizabeth Liew
Photos courtesy of Lucinda Law, Angeline Neo and Gigi Sng