Out of Office with Courtney Chew
In case you missed it, we recently launched our Out of Office series as a way to highlight friends and community members and ask them: What does a day-off look like to you? This week we caught up with Courtney Chew.
Your Name & Pronouns:
Courtney Chew — She / Her
Before we dive into the fun stuff, what do you do for work?
Job title: Founder of OCIN — an eco swim label and lifestyle collective that exists to connect ourselves to our most impactful selves, to learn, grow together, and motivate kind and positive actions for people and planet . Also the founder of The Collective Index — an ecosystem of talent bringing good people together and supporting brands and other humans with their endeavours.
What you do: I guess I’d say I’m a multi-hyphenate brand strategist, passionate about building supportive communities and empowering limitless potential. I’m definitely a connector of all sorts (to great people, places, things, events) and everyone’s biggest fan — I’m truly humbled by all who are giving back to the world through what they create.
As an entrepreneur I know that it takes so much courage to take that leap, and so, if there is anything I can do to push them forward, I will. I’m grateful that through my brands, I get to collaborate with so many incredible, talented, diverse humans from our community — local and global — and create unique experiences that bring different perspectives together and hopefully inspire dialogue and connections that are long lasting.
I think I’m here to just help however I can, to create magnetic spaces, amplify others, and continue to learn and grow together with this beautiful city that I’ve been lucky to call home all my life.
During an average week, how do you spend your time off?
• I start mornings off by stretching, playing music loud, and burning incense while making coffee.
• I also brew Chinese herbal teas at least once a week — a practice and a ritual that is really meaningful for me and offers me time and space to be present.
• Really long walks on the weekend — usually stopping first for a coffee and then heading somewhere in the city like the farmers market, or deep into Nature (beach side or forest walks). Usually I take walks to break my work day up — we’re really so lucky to have clean air and nature surrounding us right in the city. I try not to take that for granted.
• Swimming or cold dips to clear the mind. I feel the most at home in the ocean or in any body of water, so I really try to make time to do that.
• Lots of laughs and hangs with my nephews — I always learn so much from them. The way kids interact with life is incredible.
• Sprinkle food catchups or phone calls with friends and family throughout the week — my people are what inspires me, and really need moments of connecting with those that are near and far.
• Usually wind down the night grocery shopping at my local market (I love grocery stores haha), and making dinner at home.
What does work/life balance mean to you and how do you try to integrate this in your day-to-day schedule? How has this changed in the last few years?
I’m definitely more about work life integration. I’ve always been super shitty at balancing work and life — usually in that sense work takes priority. But definitely the past few years of COVID really pushed me to embrace the slow a bit more. To shift my mindset and understand and connect back with what I care about most, and then building a foundation between work and life that supports that. Journaling was a really great tool that helped me with that, because I had to dig deeper about myself.
We tend to praise the hustle and ambition. The way we define success as a society and a culture for example (amongst many, many other archaic systems and standards) dictate what we end up prioritizing and striving for — often sacrificing other things along the way. Journaling has become a really humbling and necessary exercise that helps me understand why I am the way I am, what drives me, and what I need to continue to work on, to grow into the best I can be, for myself and for others. I appreciate and recognize how fortunate I am for this life I get to live. Being healthy, happy, and a good person with positive impact is what drives me for work and life, and I can’t be my best if I don’t feel my best.
Anything in your health or general wellness routine that you could never give up?
Learning to appreciate sleep a lot more. Sleep is so important! Something that I really didn’t value for a long time and am finally having a better relationship with.
It's been a long week. List your go-to for:
Recreation —> Visiting my little nephews or playing aunt to all my friends beautiful kids — guaranteed laughs and all the hugs.
Relaxation —> Coffee walks with music, cold dips in the ocean, and forest bathing.
Reward —> A really nice meal out, usually at one of my friends’ restaurants — there’s nothing like good conversation and good food to help you feel re-energized and inspired.
Lastly, what’s one piece of advice you have for anyone trying to better integrate balance in their everyday schedule?
You could try looking at your week as a whole, see how your days are spent, and then adjust to facilitate more of a priority for life and all that makes you happy. Try to leave your evenings and weekends free, turn your notifications off and try being tech-free for at least an hour of your day if you can — then build these habits from there.
My acupuncturist likes to remind me that rest is important to help replenish. If we continually give our energy out and spend it all, we’ll have nothing in our reserve to keep us going. It’s in the mindset as well — it shouldn’t feel like a task to do things to achieve balance, but rather a part of your toolbox to help you be in your most optimal state — because when you feel good, that transcends into everything and everyone you touch. I’ve learned that it’s about finding ways to better connect to yourself to understand your body; to recognize when you’re spending too much and need to take more time to replenish. It’s important to have those moments to help us fill our cup back up, to surround ourselves with people and things that make our energy feel good.
Maybe it’s the Type A in me, but I also find that scheduling in time in my calendar — whether its an hour or two to be with friends and family throughout the week — also really helps with making sure I’m taking that time. Also realize that the balance can be found in the culmination of all the moments you give yourself — whether its five minutes in the morning to do a bit of breath-work and stretching, or to make yourself a coffee and tea, or go for a workout or a walk, those all count as well.
All in all, integrating balance is a continuous and evolving practice of being present and connecting to yourself. I really believe that it's a privilege to be able to slow down and find balance, because so many around the world aren’t afforded that luxury. So, if we can do things to help ourselves feel our best, so that we can be our best for others, why not?