A lawyer and an accountant with no design training left their jobs to design jewellery – here’s why

Lim Wen Ling (left) and Ciara Yeo are the founders and designers at The Mindful Company.
The Mindful Company

Even with rise of entrepreneurship in Singapore, leaving the comfort zone of your high-flying job for the less stable world of business still requires a great deal of courage.

In 2015, former lawyer and investment banker, Ciara Yeo, made that very transition, leaving the corporate world for an unpredictable future in jewellery design.

Born in Malaysia and raised in Australia, Yeo came to Singapore almost a decade ago for a job opportunity.

But years later, she found another calling in jewellery design – one which, unlike law and finance, she had zero training in.

Together with her friend Lim Wen Ling, whom she met in Singapore, Yeo created The Mindful Company, a jewellery brand focused on delivering encouraging messages through minimalistic accessories for both women and men.

Lim, 33, was also born in Malaysia and raised in Australia, and was an accountant by training. After having her first child, she too left her accounting job to join Yeo in their new business venture.

But a transition such as this is never easy, especially when you’re not sure what you’re getting yourself into.

“We come from quite structured environments, and we’re so used to things working a certain way. And then we realised that in entrepreneurship you have to be resourceful, fluid and dynamic. You can only plan so far ahead, which goes against our personality types,” the 31-year-old Yeo says.

The duo were fortunate then, to have found each other, because they have complementary skill sets and what Yeo calls a “foundation of trust” in their partnership.

And at the end of the day, it helps to stay focused on the purpose that they have set for The Mindful Company.

Business with a purpose 

“It always comes back to our mission. We are big believers in brands with purpose,” Yeo says.

“The premise of everything we do is to encourage people to be kind to themselves and be aware of their decisions, how they approach challenges in life, and also to be aware and kind to those around them,” she says.

But mindful living is easier said than done, especially for city-dwellers caught up in an endless rat race.

As an entrepreneur of a growing company, Yeo tells Business Insider that having routines is what helps her take care of her own mental wellbeing.

Like many successful people, Yeo has made it a point to stick to everyday routines as a way of managing the haphazard workload she faces on a daily basis.

“I like to exercise, for physical health, but also as a way of recharging. Whether it be pilates, running or yoga, it’s (about) taking that time out to clear (my) mind for a bit,” she says.

Another routine she has introduced into daily life is gratitude journaling, which requires her to note down three things that she is grateful for.

Apart from that, she says it’s also mindset training, which involves “training yourself to not get worked up or go into a downward spiral when things happen”.

It’s okay to be stressed

Through subtle messaging in their designs, the duo hopes to spread the message that it’s okay to ask for help or to show vulnerability when one is going through challenging times.

“People think (the topic of) mental health affects only a small minority of the population, when in fact, everyone goes through really challenging times in life.

“Sometimes people think that if they exercise a lot, (the stress) will go away but a lot of times, there are actually tools to train yourself to be more mentally resilient,” Yeo adds.

The Singapore-based company, which counts Inhumans actor Isabelle Cornish among its supporters, has produced an entire collection aptly named the ‘What’s Important Series’ to raise funds for Singapore Association of Mental Health’s (SAMH) youth programmes.

Another partnership with the Stroke Support Station (S3), which helps stroke patients and their caregivers with mental resilience training, involves providing support in the form of web content and design.

One of the main objectives for the company is to get Singaporeans talking about mental health without the stigma attached to it.

She says: “One thing that we noticed is there is a huge emphasis on physical health… But sometimes people neglect mental health and mental wellbeing.

“I think mental health is as important as physical health. If your mind is healthy, if you can tackle challenges in a healthy way, then that goes to your physical health and that affects the way your relationships work and how you affect people around you.”

Asked what motivates them to keep going, Yeo says: “As long as we feel that what we’re doing continues to add value to somebody in this world, then we’ll continue doing it.”