How are you keeping?
Today we extend a warm welcome to our new subscribers: Anita, Minhyeok, Iva, Margo, M, Ryan and Manuel. Thank you very much for joining us. So you know the drill: every Sunday I write about something in the spirit of sustainability, and I try hard to make each edition an enjoyable read.
Today is a get-to-know you interview, however you'll find a range of topics covered in our newsletter archive. Some recent favourites include the newsletter about "RePack", which is a zero waste packaging solution, whilst a lot of you had a strong opinion following my semi-critical take on B Corps.
Every so often I hand the stage to one of the wonderful women in the LUXTRA orbit. Today we'll meet Ailing Seah-Langeland, with whom I've been working since mid 2021 to develop LUXTRA's sales.
Ailing and I met on the TU Delft Sustainable Packaging in a Circular Economy course, although (as is the way during COVID, we have never met in person!)
Ailing is the muscle behind our listing with Singapore Airlines. She's a dream to work with: so organised, so on it, and so good at pushing me out of my comfort zone (which I secretly really like).
So, over to you, Ailing! Would you like to introduce yourself?
I am a Singaporean, born and bred on the tropical island city of Singapore. I am also mum to 2 boys - Lucas who is 9 and Leo who is 6. I love a good cup of tea and a nice slice of cake (sharing is not an option). I currently live in the beautiful historical town of Trondheim, Norway because my husband is Norwegian - even though I hate the cold, the skiing and I don't eat salmon. So yes, I am living proof that love is blind.
Fun fact: I enjoy weight lifting and my personal record (in dead-lift) is 112.5kg.
Tell us a bit about your work / business
I run my own business working as business development consultant, mainly with companies in their start up / scale up phase. My company is call LL International where LL stands for Lucas and Leo. I really enjoy working with companies who are creating innovative products and services that are aimed at solving 'world's problems' rather than adding on to it.
What would surprise people about your work?
People are usually very surprised by how much I travel for my work (pre-COVID days) especially when I have such young kids. I am on an aeroplane every month of the year (before COVID19). Craziest record is having 3 meetings in 3 different countries within a span of 24hrs (Singapore-HongKong-Manila). As you can guess, COVID19 and the rise of digital meetings has completely changed my life.
What positive changes have you seen in the travel industry recently in regard to sustainability?
Travel Retailers are starting to see the need to source and retail sustainable product within the Travel Retail Industry. The airlines and cruise liners are also increasingly exploring the possibilities of hybrid biofuel planes and cruises. The biggest positive change lies in the awareness level (thanks to Greta) amongst the travellers and the stakeholders in the industry. There are a lot of resources in the travel industry and care must be taken that these resources are rightfully allocated to making travel more sustainable (research and development of more fuel efficient planes/cruise, biofuel, clean energy etc) in the future rather than being used to just 'fight the ban against travel'. To ban travelling in the name of sustainability is not sustainable at all and will set us all back many years of development.
The Gardens by the Bay in Ailing's native Singapore.
The "supertree" structures have many sustainable qualities built-in.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Many people treat 'sustainability' as the new 'buzz word' , embracing it as a new trend, an industry disruptor, a world changing solution. For me, sustainability is much simpler. I believe to embrace sustainability is to embrace a simpler way of life like how our grandparents and their parents used to do back in the days when money, things and resources are limited. We need to treat things with respect (repair, not throw) and just adopt the attitude that resources are not limitless, only then will we be able to cut down on unnecessary purchases and reduce our demand on earth's resources.
I don't know about you, but I don't envy Ailing.
What's your biggest challenge at the moment?
Speaking Norwegian fluently so that I can conduct a business presentation in Norwegian, innovate myself (new industry, new business focus) and contribute to a positive change.
What's your favourite part of your work?
Speaking to different people and learning from them. It broadens my mind and helps me to see outside my little 'box'.
And the most difficult part?
Trying to convince traditional retailers to list LUXTRA London (because the retail industry had been very affected by COVID19 so many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers adopting a 'low-risk' strategy now, meaning they are less willing to take on new brands).
Ailing's favourite: the zip-top tote
Which is your favourite LUXTRA product?
The Zipped Tote, who doesn't love a classic & elegant zipped tote, especially one that is made to such high quality!
What are your top 3 things to eat / see / do in Norway ?
Summer in Norway can be so beautiful, the nature is amazing. I recommend taking a road trip in summer and drive along the many fjords.
Must do: Take a trip on the Flåm railway
Must Eat: Hotdogs (don't forget the fried onions) and ice-cream picnic next to a fjord.
Must See: Geiranger Fjord. Don't need to go into the village of Geiranger, it can be a bit of a 'tourist trap', just drive to the top viewing point and you get how majestic that fjord is.
Geirange Fjord, Norway
If you'd like to reach out to Ailing, her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you a happy week ahead,
LUXTRA Founder | Aspiring Sustainable Traveller | Proud B Corp-er
Jessica Kruger, LUXTRA