IN HER ELEMENT

Charmaine Seah-Ong

“Shopping is my cardio.” — Carrie Bradshaw

TAKE it from our favourite TV style icon. Shopping is very good for the heart — in more ways than one.

As you’ve probably heard by now, this month marks the second consecutive year of Tangs’ #ShopForGood campaign, a social movement that encourages cause-conscious shopping. What that means is, as you get the step count on your Fitbit going, you’re also making your steps count in a very meaningful way when you shop at Tangs.

The department store has pledged to donate S$0.50 for every receipt generated from October 1 to November 1 (up to S$100,000) to the Singapore Children’s Society. And when you buy something from one of their participating brand partners (ran out of your favourite MAC lipstick? Stock up. Now. Need to spoil yourself silly with the insanely-luxe Clé De Peau Beauté face cream? Go for it.), they will also contribute to Tangs’ nominated beneficiary or their preferred charity.

Like I said, so good for the heart.

Since we’re also celebrating an October of well-being here at WoW in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s really the perfect opportunity to speak with one of the five SFG ambassadors this year, Charmaine Seah-Ong.

The 32-year-old entrepreneur and mother took five from shopping for good to chat with me about taking better care of herself (wash make-up off before going to bed!) and the people who matter (step away from the phone when you’re having dinner!), her golden rule for happiness, and women who inspire her… Oh, and what good-ies are in her shopping bag!

I try not to take on the world… I’ve learnt that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes, and to not pile too much on your plate.

You’re a woman who wears many hats, being the co-founder of Elementary Co and RMBRTheDress, and you’re also a mother. What’s a typical day like for you?
Charmaine Seah-Ong:
I have a pretty considerate baby (an oxymoron, I know!) who only wakes up at around 8am, so that’s more or less when the day starts for me. I feed and bathe her, and squeeze in a bit of playtime before getting myself ready for work — all while replying emails and briefing my team on what needs to be done for the day.

Work consists of lots of meetings in and out of the office, creative reviews and brainstorming sessions with my various teams, plus a ton of emails — including those for RMBRTheDress and other personal collaborations I might be involved in.

I used to attend a lot of events, but after becoming a parent we’ve had to be a bit more selective about how we spend our time. I try not to attend more than one a week so that I can be home in time to hang out with my daughter before putting her to bed.

My husband and I are pretty good with making time for date nights though. We’d go out for a late dinner together, or have drinks out on the balcony. We may see each other in the office every day, but it’s still nice to just spend time alone with him, especially now that we have a child.

What are some things you do to make sure you take good care of yourself amid this busy-ness?
CSO:
I try not to take on the world. Attempting to be Wonder Woman and a supermum is something all mothers try to be, but many do so at the expense of their sanity and well-being. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to ask for help sometimes, and to not pile too much on your plate.

I live in the moment and try to be present, both physically and mentally. This is especially hard for me because I’m extremely easily distracted. When I’m with my family, I try my best keep my phone far away from me or faced down while we’re eating. We’re so used to fiddling with our phones these days, it’s really such an awful habit and it makes me unable to concentrate on things or people the way I want to.

Charmaine Seah-Ong

Charmaine Seah-OngI’m disciplined about my skincare regime, which I wasn’t at all until about a year ago. I wear as little make-up as I can get away with while still looking presentable, and I slather on tons of sunblock before stepping out in the day. The minute I get home from work, I cleanse my face thoroughly, too — a complete opposite from when I used to sleep with make-up on when I was younger. Terrible!

I spend time with my family and my parents. We’ve always been close, but becoming a mother has given me a new-found and deeper appreciation for them. My parents have also been based overseas for the past three years so I make it a point to spend more time with them whenever they’re back. Being around people who love you really does do wonders for your well-being.

I nourish my mind and soul by listening to good music… live. There’s nothing better than watching music being performed live on stage by your favourite bands, and this is something my husband and I share in common. We love attending concerts together and going for music festivals.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Life’s too short to let the little things weigh you down.

It’s always nice to get together with your very best friends, have a couple of drinks and sing and dance your cares away.

What never fails to cheer you up whenever you encounter a bit of a rough patch at work or in life?
CSO:
Honestly, I love a good cry to get all that pent up anger/stress/frustration out of my system. That and a long, hot bath to loosen those nerves. These days, I also have a wonderful ball of sunshine and energy, otherwise known as my daughter. There’s nothing a big cuddle from her won’t cure.

What’s your golden rule for living an inspired and happy life?
CSO:
 Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life’s too short to let the little things weigh you down. That, and never hold grudges against anyone. Live, let live, and always, ALWAYS forgive.

What or who inspires and motivates you?
CSO:
My mother inspires me to be an empathetic and loving human being. My husband motivates me to be a strong and fearless leader. My daughter inspires me to be a better, kinder person, and my Elementary Co team motivates me to be a more passionate and selfless friend.

Other women who inspire me are Tjin Lee. She’s a tireless leader and

a champion of women entrepreneurs and working mums. She’s also always ready to offer words of advice, and takes on life with a positive, can-do attitude.

I also really admire Jessica Alba for juggling an acting career, a family life while also founding The Honest Company — a line of baby products that are non-toxic and promote ethical, sustainable consumption, as well as Honest Beauty — a skincare and beauty line derived from botanicals that are chemical free.

Where’s your happy place?
CSO:
Katong is my happy place. It’s where I grew up and where I call home although I live with my husband in the North-East of Singapore now. It has so much character and charm (and FOOD!), and to me, it’s a neighbourhood that’s just so quintessentially Singaporean.

Finally, congratulations on being one of Tangs’ Shop For Good ambassadors this year. What have you bought in support of the campaign?
CSO:
I’ve already bought a couple of items from In Good Company and flowers from the One Olive pop-up. I’m also planning on adding to my lipstick stash as all proceeds from the sale of MAC Viva Glam lipstick goes to the MAC Aids Fund.

Charmaine is wearing pants from Matter and shoes from Melissa — both her own, but the brands are available at Tangs if you love them. 

Photos: Karman Tse

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