A Chat With Chai Sunrise’s Founder, Jamie Lee, On Her Journaling Journey & Exploring the Mindfulness Space
At WYLD, we’re all for living life to the fullest but we know life has its ups and downs too. Especially with COVID, mental health struggles have been amplified with anxiety and depression on the rise. We’re always open to trying different self-care methods and exploring the conversation about mental health in Singapore, which is why we’re super excited to have Chai Sunrise as part of the WYLD fam!
Launched just 2 months ago, Chai Sunrise already has big goals to make an impact in the wellness and mindfulness scene. The brand offers a collection of journals and weekly planners with original templates and prompts to help you pen down your thoughts and feelings.
Journaling may seem like just another fad to some but the science behind it says otherwise. Studies have shown that journaling decreases cortisol levels, which in turn reduces stress. It can also improve your quality of sleep and helps you make better lifestyle choices like eating healthier food (goodbye Macca’s!). It shifts both your mindset and moods to improve your mental and physical health. Created from the science of journaling, Chai Sunrise has launched two self-care journals that help you find peace and solace amid the hectic buzz of daily life.
The Chai Sunrise Weekly Planner is a practical tool to help track your everyday tasks. It also keeps you grounded with questions that encourage you to look back on the positives of each week. Their 3 Questions a Day Journal is a keeper if you’re looking for a gratitude journal in Singapore. It focuses on being mindful of your emotions through three daily thought-provoking questions.
We had a chat with founder Jamie Lee to find out more about her journey in the wellness space and how it led to the birth of Chai Sunrise.
How journaling came into her life…
When asked why she chose to start a business in the mindfulness and self-care space, Jamie said, “I didn’t pick the industry, I feel like the industry picked me”.
Her journey with journaling wasn’t exactly borne out of a positive experience. She was introduced to it when she hit a low point at a mere 12 years of age.
"I’ve been journaling since I was 12. It was prescribed to me by my therapist to help me cope with my parent’s divorce. It was also during that time when my family immigrated from Taiwan to Australia. Moving to a new country where you feel like you look different to everyone around you is not easy and back then, I didn’t even know how to speak English. In addition to all that, there was a lot going on within my family. So my school principal said to my mum that if she didn’t take me to see a therapist, I would not be able to continue my studies and education with them."
Therapy isn’t the norm in an Asian household even when you are struggling with your mental health. It’s usually “it’s all in your head, get over it”. Fortunately, Jamie’s mum took her for therapy sessions, which was where her therapist introduced her to journaling.
"It was a tool that allowed me to regulate my emotions, practice gratitude and unplug."
Initially a tool for mental health, Jamie explained that her relationship with journaling has evolved over the years. As a university student, Jamie started bullet journaling to improve productivity and creativity. During COVID, she began a gratitude journal to remind herself of her blessings despite the unpredictable circumstances.
"So with Chai Sunrise, I tried to take the elements of productivity, mindfulness and intentionality to marry them together into one journal. And that’s the intent behind our guided journals. It’s not just a blank piece of paper. It has wellness and productivity templates that allow you to see what’s really important in your life."
Turning journaling into a business…
Her lightbulb moment to start Chai Sunrise began with her interactions in her job and with her friends.
During her journey as an entrepreneur, Jamie also ran mindfulness workshops for startups and Fortune 500 companies. Her insights during these workshops all pointed to one similar issue — everyone was stressed. These corporate staff wanted to optimise their lives so they could improve productivity and spend more time doing the things they love.
On top of that, Jamie’s friends opened up to her about their mental health struggles from being trapped at home during the COVID lockdown. Of course, Jamie recommended journaling to them but her friends didn’t know how to start on a blank piece of paper
"I saw these 2 problems amongst my friends and clients which gave me the inspiration to create a business out of wellness journals."
"I thought about how I could simplify this mindfulness practice because there’s so much science behind it in terms of how it can help people with their mental health. So that gave me the idea of creating templates inside the journal."
Let’s talk about Chai Sunrise…
Of course, we had to ask, “why the name ‘Chai Sunrise’?”
"My favourite time of the day is in the morning. So sunrise! And they say the best time for you to set intentions is in the morning to centre yourself. And why chai? Well, I love chai tea! And it has an acquired taste. It’s sweet and it’s spicy at the same time. And that’s just like life, isn’t it? Life isn’t always gonna be sweet, sometimes it’s spicy but when you combine those elements, that’s what makes life interesting. So that’s the name Chai Sunrise!"
How do your Chai Sunrise prompts change the journaling process?
"I think the biggest benefit is that it adds structure to the way you think. One thing I noticed, especially for me, is when there’s a blank piece of paper, my mind just keeps going. And sometimes all I write are negative things. But when you add structure to the way you think and have prompts about what you’re grateful for, it’s like having a personal coach asking you questions that you should ponder about your life, your relationships, and your career. And that’s how we came up with the journal ‘3 Questions a Day’. We hope the journal can act as a personal coach."
What was the inspiration behind the quote “Good things take time” at the front of your weekly planners?
"I'm a very impatient person. Sometimes, I compare my Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20. It’s a reminder for me that you shouldn’t compare your life and well, good things take time. Chai Sunrise is very new and sometimes I can’t help but compare the business to other businesses. And that can get really toxic and can take away joy and happiness. Also when I started a couple of businesses in Australia, I was so focused on climbing to the top of the mountain that I forgot to enjoy the view along the way. So the quote also reminds me to appreciate the process instead of being so focused on the outcome."
Juggling entrepreneurship and mental health…
Being an entrepreneur can be hard on your mental health especially when you’re taking on so many hats all on your own. As a serial entrepreneur in the mindfulness space, Jamie tries her best to practice what she preaches by making her mental health a priority.
We were curious to know how Jamie seeks balance between hustling and self-care.
"I find that some of my happiest moments are when I’m away from technology. I love tech and data but I intentionally schedule quality breaks throughout my week away from it. When you take a break, it increases your productivity. When you force yourself to stare at the screen for 7-8 hours straight, you’re not gonna get that quality that you want."
"On the weekends I try not to look at my phone or do any work. Also, you wouldn’t invite hundreds of people into your room when you wake up first thing in the morning, right? But the first thing we do is look through our emails and social media and invite hundreds of people in. So I stopped doing that."
Another tip she shared is to start prioritising what is important to you. For Jamie, it’s spending quality time with her friends and family.
In line with Chai Sunrise’s 3 Questions a Day Journal, we ended our chat with 3 rapid-fire questions.
3 words to describe your Chai Sunrise journals.
Warm. Relatable. Timeless.
What is your go-to self-care routine after a stressful day?
What do you want your customers to feel when they’re journaling in their Chai Sunrise journals?
You can find Chai Sunrise’s weekly planners and their 3 Questions a Day Journals online or at The WYLD Shop on 412 Joo Chiat Road!