The Journey So Far

Born and raised in tropical Singapore, I moved to New York 12 years ago as an aspiring art student . It's been a decade since I first started making natural skincare/ scents in my kitchen and while I still live in Brooklyn with my cat, you can now find me at my studio / store in Gowanus which I co-share with my friend Here to Sunday. When I'm not at my studio, I'm usually tending to my ever-growing collection of plants, edible greens and foraged wildflowers. I also just started down the path of studying permaculture and would like to practice on a place I can call my own someday.

Were you always interested in natural remedies?

When I was a child, I really hated herbs. My mother would have to saturate her daily concoctions of herbal tonic drinks with honey before I would even attempt to drink any of it. I was also the epitome of an urban child – my interactions (and interest) for anything to do with the outdoors was tragically subpar and I would never think of touching a bug with my bare hands.

mom and I when she's not chasing me down with tonic drinks.    

What do you think started it all then?

I think the first baby step towards my current life today happened when I picked up a soapmaking book after class in 2008, from the discount shelf at The Strand. Soapmaking became a hobby through college, graduation, working at an advertising agency, then a publishing house... during this time, I had terrible skin. My quest for the perfect skincare routine was costly and ineffective for years. I went to see an acupuncturist who confirmed my suspicions that my outbreaks were largely due to stress, along with my poor health (I thought falling sick once a month was normal), poor appetite (95lb) and feeling constantly depleted. For months, I diligently went for sessions and drank daily tonics (without the sugar this time). It was a slow progression, but slowly my energy levels started to improve and my new found faith in herbs led me to the idea of trying to personally improve my skin health with soapmaking.

Was that the pivotal moment?

I wish! Working visas were the only affordable way I could live in the U.S. as the company would sponsor your stay. After 3 working visas and 6 years later, I decided to apply for the artist visa. It was a tedious and costly process with much lower approval rates, but it was the only way I could stay in the U.S without a full-time job. Fortunately, I was approved and working as a freelancer gave me time I never had. My then partner took that as an opportunity to show me what America really had to offer beyond the urban jungle bubble and seeing places like Joshua Tree, Big Sur and the Sawtooth Mountains really took my breath away. That was the pivotal moment where my life goals started to shift.

Even Keel is just me, and i am trying, everyday, to live life, even keel.

When did the idea of Even Keel start?

It was a culmination of all the above – the re-introduction to herbal medicine, integration of soapmaking, spare time to learn more about myself and the burst of nature into my life that really started Even Keel. As a freelancer, I shared my studio space with a ceramicist and a jewelry designer, and when I wasn't there, I was at my ex-partner's art studio – just being around them gave me the inspiration, desire to integrate my life and job into one harmonious entity.
What seemed impossible, started to seem more of a reality as my life slowly shifted away from the corporate world.

What are your goals for Even Keel?

Apart from wanting to weed out store-bought skincare from my life, I'm starting to realize that my goal beyond that is for it to be an extension of my life. It's a company I want to grow with me, not faster than me. My goal is to provide quality products that I started with on my own skin, to continue making everything in-house and out-source only when absolutely necessary.