Zelia is the co-founder of Anywhr, a Singaporean brand that maps out surprise trips for vacationers. It is rooted in the experience of authentic travel and the feeling of letting go to the unknown. From a career in the hospitality and tourism industry, it was a natural journey to where she is now.
What were you doing before Anywhr?
I was working in the hospitality & tourism sector, before doing my Masters at NUS and subsequently went on to work for a few startups before starting Anywhr.
What did the journey look like to get you where you are now?
It was life in general – uncertain, messy and pretty fun with lots of sweats and tears in between. I worked in various industries and travelled to different countries to experience new things, before Anywhr came about unexpectedly.
Hardest part of the Anywhr journey so far?
For a new startup like us, everyday is a challenge that we never take for granted. One of our challenges right now is to scale the team well, as we expanded from 2 to 13 team members in a year. So happy that we’re expanding and everyone is having fun while learning and growing.
Many! What keeps us going is every time travelers tell us how much they love their trip and that they wouldn’t have been able to have such an experience without Anywhr. We also recently had our first Travelers Party where we got to meet many of them in person and shared our stories. It was heartening to see them show up to support us, and glad that we all had a good time. All the hard work going behind organizing it really paid off. (Just like the hard work behind planning trips. ;))
What do you love about travel?
<Insert every cliché travel quote here and they’re all true!> Travel helps us see things with a fresh perspective, and allows us to experience the true joy of discovery and authentic connections. It also lets me understand more about myself and the world everytime I go on a trip, regardless how exotic nor long the trip was.
What does sustainability mean to you?
The word sustainability has unfortunately lost some of its power due to people and organizations who misuse it for things that are obviously not sustainable. We often discuss the fact that it’s actually very weird that we have to label stuff as sustainable or organic or fair. We think this should be normal and everything else should be labeled as not sustainable. And that’s what it means to us: trying to incorporate sustainable decisions into everyday life to make them as normal as possible. We all know about the impact of certain industries – now we only have to act on what we already know. It’s not that hard. In fact, it’s actually fun to make a good decision, without becoming dogmatic.
As someone who is no stranger to travelling, how do you go about making a place feel more like home?
A friend once told me, “home is not a place, but how you make of the place”. I believe that it’s all about your mindfulness, and your openness to adapt and be receptive to different places. Roaming the streets simply looking around with your eyes (not shopping or searching the internet for things to check off your list) usually does the trick for me. One of our travelers also shared that visiting local supermarkets was her thing, as it helped her to get insight into local life based on what they buy and eat – and I have to agree with that.
How do you know when a project is worth doing?
When it aligns with your vision, I’d say just go for it. What else do you have to lose?
What’s on your travel bucket list?
My travel bucket list is not so much on the destinations rather than the feelings and experiences it allows you to have (like an Anywhr trip, of course). I look forward to just traveling long-term living out of a van, and taking baby steps now with a month-long road trip in the USA this year living out of free campsites and eating canned food.
What is the relationship you have with your clothes?
Comfort above everything! I usually just wear whatever that’s washed, doesn’t have to be ironed, and allows me to walk fast and sit on floors. A good friend knows me so well that when she invited me to a fancy high tea event at a hotel, she warned me not to wear my ‘startup clothes’.
Thinking further than the end product that fuels your lifestyle, but the process that allowed it to happen and ensuring that it supports the basic ethical values that makes us human.
What is one thing you stand for and believe in, and why?
Hard work. There is no replacement for that – not talent, not more opportunity, but pure hard work and dedication.
How would you like to be remembered?
It doesn’t matter, I guess I’ll probably be dead when people start trying to remember me. For now, I’m just happy building a great team and trying to pioneer a new movement in the way we travel.
We are inspired by Zelia’s intentions with building a travel company from the ground up are proud to have her as Fieldtesters, a group of inspiring individuals that test MATTER products in their everyday journeys of passion, to help us improve durability and design. Zelia is wearing the Sideswept Dhoti + IChing Jade Noir in Size 1.