You are also very active with charity work.
When Littlebotany started to make profits, I wanted to give back to the society. It began with Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, which is known for its wildlife conservation. The society rescues trafficked animals or animals that are injured. It goes back to my love for animals. I also worked with Cat Welfare Society and Saving Our Street Dogs. I recently did a fundraiser for Assisi Hospice. I got to know its Head of Community Enrichment Juliet through a customer of mine. Being an Asian in a traditional family, the concept of hospice care is foreign to me. When I went to the hospice, I saw that it was a beautiful place, so full of life, passion and love — they play music to patients in their end of days.
So you are actually selective about whom you work with.
For me, charity work has to connect with my personal beliefs. It’s not just for hype, or clout chasing or to present myself as a saviour. I feel that once you have privilege, you must always help others, even if you feel you’re just a small and mid-size enterprise that can only contribute a little. It creates a ripple effect — someone else may become inspired that even a small community can help raise funds.
What is the connection you have with plants? How do plants help you?
Gardening helps me to process issues and my anxiety. Touching the plant and working with it slow down my train of thoughts. I can start thinking about an issue, but not stress over it. Taking care of the plants is an escape. It teaches me patience as well as compassion. You are taking care of a living thing, and you need to show it love and compassion. In turn, you are showing compassion to yourself as well. And of course, gardening offers me a sense of achievement: I put my heart and soul into something, and the reward is something that’s nice. It gives you the confidence that if you can create magic in this tiny space of yours, you can create magic elsewhere too.
Also, I’m an introvert who is a very guarded person. As an introvert, I need silence and isolation. As I’m trained in customer service, I can easily switch to being animated. But I need to prepare myself mentally. My gardening time is when I build energy. An hour before I open shop, I think about the things that make me feel stressed, such as interacting with strangers. And after a long day, I am thoroughly drained. Gardening is how I recharge. It’s my own quiet time, my own healing time. The nerves go away; I go back to being fully myself.