Conscious living has always been at the forefront of our brand's identity and thought process. Averting short-lived seasonal trends, we started out with producing wardrobe capsules that focused on versatility, being long-wearing and made from quality fabrics sourced from Japan. Like any other business or practice, we've been constantly evolving and delving further into the ideas that interest us, such as the notion of sustainability, how creative makers challenge boundaries in their craft, and how simple comforts in life can help us unwind and recharge. The start of 2020 has presented everyone with unimaginable challenges, but let's continue to share more about the small things that bring us joy and the efforts we continually make to live a more enriched life.
Last week we visited Jia Tian from Rough Beauty at her new studio. She's an inspiring advocate of mindful living, and we had chanced upon her handcrafted botanical bath and body products awhile back. Since then she has collaborated with us on producing mini soap bars for our customers, and also stocking her festive soaps collection at our flagship shop last Christmas season. Here are some of her thoughts and musings in this entry.
What’s on your playlist these days?
Usually we put on some Spotify acoustic cover music in the studio, but sometimes we listen to a team playlist filled with everyone's favourite songs.
“Comfort” ~ What are the 3 things that come to your mind?
Home, cats, friends & family.
Crafting anything handmade can be both physically and mentally exhausting. How do you give yourself a break, or a treat for a mood lift?
Lately I don't craft or produce as much as I used to, but we have daily tea breaks in the studio where we all gather together to have snacks. I also try to do other things on my weekends and down-time like playing a few games on Nintendo Switch with friends or going for walks.
Do you have any daily routines to share over at Rough Beauty?
Every day is different but it usually starts with a quick discussion with my mom or the team about what things need to be completed for the day and what the production schedule might look like. Then, I sit down to check my emails and work on outstanding items. Depending on the day, I might also be involved in meetings, production, photography, bookkeeping, sourcing of items, R&D, updating of the website etc.
Rough Beauty prides itself on handcrafted botanical bath and body products with sustainability in mind. Have you always been an advocate for sustainable living?
I'm definitely more sensitive and conscious now, more so than before I started the business – but we did start with concerns of sustainability in mind. I felt like the business I'm involved in shouldn't be at the cost of the earth; it should have as minimal an impact as possible.
What are some things that were unexpected since you started Rough Beauty?
I didn't expect that we'd be growing the business and having our own studio like this because Rough Beauty started off as a fun thing to do. Another unexpected thing would be the business opportunities and collaborations that we've had so far, which I am thankful for.
I’m sure your studio is like an apothecary filled with different ingredients and scents for making your soaps. Which are some of your favourites to work with?
I enjoy working with French green clay because of its soothing colours and cleansing properties. I also enjoy activated charcoal because of the shades of greys and blacks we can get. The most difficult soaps for us are when the soap batter seizes and clumps up, and then it really becomes a rush to the finish.
What is your best thing about running Rough Beauty?
Right now, it's probably when people tell us that they enjoy our products or that they enjoy what we do. It gives us feedback and affirmation that we are actually doing something right. I also like that I get to experience many different things while running the business.
Many of us can agree that our way of life has severe impact on the environment. What are some of the first steps you took towards being kinder to our planet earth?
I definitely consume less, and a lot more mindfully now. It's partly because I don't like having things go to waste. For example, I buy mostly basic and neutral-coloured clothes nowadays so that it's easy to wear and I'm unlikely to change my mind about them for a long time.
Can you share more about the eco efforts you and your team practice?
We are mindful about the things and packaging we consume for use in our products. We also use donated bubble wrap for our mailing needs. We have minimal furniture in our studio and about half of them are DIY-ed.
We don't let any of our soaps go to waste: the bar soaps that don't pass the QC get listed as roughies at a cheaper price, and even the soap ends get sold as mini washes. Anything else that doesn't get listed for sale gets used by the team.
Living in Singapore with it's hectic pace of life, how do you bring joy and balance to your work and those around you?
I try not to take things too seriously (I think) and I crack lame jokes when the mood strikes. It helps that I have two cats bringing joy to my life.
In an alternate universe, what other path would you find yourself on?
Starting a cat shelter/ hotel or something that is involved with the elderly population.
The Weekend Sundries Woman is a series of narrative photos and conversations, featuring authentic, independent women in their most familiar element and craft. We hope this project elicits thoughts and discussion about the nature of the modern woman today - her growth, her challenges, and her comforts. At our studio, we are inspired by the beauty found in the imperfect, the raw — in one's commonplace. We believe finding rest and a moment of pause in this hectic world is the key to thriving.
Jia Tian is wearing the Kylie Dress, size XS + Lea Dress, size XS.