Mount Rinjani three years ago, they were the first to depart for the summit and the last to arrive. “We’re not active people,” says Amanda Eng, the 32-year-old chief marketing and buying officer of homegrown design store Naiise, laughing at the thought of how she underestimated the scale of the 3,726 metre-high mountain. Images of hikers climbing in flip-flops led her to believe that the ascent to the top of Indonesia’s second highest peak was a mere walk in the park.
For Dennis Tay, her husband and founder of the company, the arduous trek to the summit was a rewarding one that ended with an evening, quite literally, under the stars. “Our porters had gone ahead of us to set up our tents and cook dinner. That night, we ate well and when we looked up – the stars seemed very near,” recalls the 32-year-old entrepreneur.
While the couple’s first visit to Lombok brought them to the mountains, their subsequent trips to the sleepy Indonesian island next to Bali saw them sinking their feet into the pristine white sands of Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp. Nestled in a secluded cove on the Southern reaches of the island, the intimate resort comprises 11 lodges, each with azure views of the Alas Strait and the island of Sumbawa beyond. The isolated locale, with its elysian surrounds, was not the only luxury the couple enjoyed. Wi-Fi was not available in the resort. “When you run an online business, there’s so much digital information you have to process each day,” says Eng. “When we’re at Jeeva, we don’t choose to tune out. We’re forced to do so. We snorkel, spend time with each other, and I get lost in crime fiction from Henning Mankell.”
“When we’re at Jeeva, we don’t choose to tune out. We’re forced to do so.”
– Amanda Eng, on disconnected from the digital world
Indeed, with six stores in Singapore, a recent pop-up in London, a multi-concept store cum bakery opening in Kuala Lumpur this month, and e-commerce sites in each of these countries, the young couple overseeing over 90 staff on payroll barely have time to themselves. Taking multi-tasking to the next level, they bring their 14-month-old son, Ralph, into the office daily. His playpen, a riot of toys and cushions, is sited next to their desk. When the toddler is not amusing himself with the office cat, he can count on the staff at Naiise to be his playmates.
Since their first visit in 2015, the couple has returned to Jeeva with friends, and a third time with their team. For Tay, the remote environs remains a sacred space for him to recharge and recalibrate: “I don’t get interrupted here and it gives me time to think, clear my head, and plan the next steps for the company.”