Nature’s Rest with Adah Chan
In uncertain times, when stress and anxiety levels rise, a good night’s sleep is essential to our physical and mental health. Hong Kong-born entrepreneur Adah Chan is a firm believer in the restorative and calming effects of nature, of its ability to aid rest and relaxation at home. “We have the potential to be our best self only when we have rested well. I believe that rest is the basis of wellness.”
Born into a family with three generations of home-textile industry experience, Chan grew up learning from her mother’s business, Bed & Bath, a long-established luxury homewares boutique in Hong Kong. “I grew up hearing about things like choosing quality materials and working with the best suppliers,” she explains. “I travelled to tradeshows with her from my early teens and I learnt a lot about running a business even before heading to university in the United States.”
Another significant early influence in Chan’s life was her travels and experiences of the natural world. “I was fortunate not only to visit places like Laos, the Philippines, Morocco and South Africa in my childhood, but to also have a father who loved to take me on hikes closer to home. He knows every trail in this incredible hiking city, and I have a lot of happy memories of exploring the mountains and bays of Hong Kong by his side.”
“I have long been interested in the calming and restorative effect being in nature can have on us and wanted to find a way of bringing this into the home through contemporary design.”
A love of, and respect for nature, was formed at an early age. “As a child I learned to appreciate the beauty of the flora and fauna, and the importance and fragility of ecosystems.” Now, as a mother herself, she is grateful to be able to share a similar experience with my own children. “As we raise them (part of the year) on our farm in Canada, they too are learning to respect and cherish the natural world.”
Over the years, Chan realised that the things bringing calm and a sense of peace into her home were those gathered in nature. “Things like a beautiful stone I keep on a windowsill that reminds me of a perfect day spent at the river with my family. Or sometimes a simple arrangement of dried grasses foraged in late summer will cause me to stop and reflect on the tranquillity I felt in that moment. To me, these are some of the most precious things I have in my home.”
With a career that took her to New York, Shanghai and Europe, working with brands such as Ralph Lauren Home and Vera Wang, Chan was driven by a deep interest in provenance and manufacturing, “I discovered that I have a deep interest in how things are made.” Seeking to apply her experience to a business built around her personal vision and ethos, Chan founded Baea in 2020, a contemporary bedlinen and homeware brand with a global reach and sustainability at its core.
Baea highlights the calming and restorative effect being in nature can have on us and is a way of bringing this into the home through contemporary design. “Of course, not everything can be found in the wild, but why shouldn't those essential things we invest in — such as bedding — convey some of the same feelings? I believe that being an entrepreneur is not just about making products, it is also about sharing stories through them.”
Chan, alongside Baea’s designer, Catherine Reeves, applies inspirations found in the natural world to her textiles. The patterns observed there - from the subtle designs of rocks to breeze-swept meadows – form the basis for the bedding collections, beautifully crafted with intricate detailing in
Committed to prioritising sustainability, Chan sources one hundred percent organic cotton bedlinens, with plant-based buttons, with all products and packaging being fully biodegradable. “We want to feel confident in the province of our materials and are committed to keeping our environmental footprint to a minimum.” She continues: “One of the best ways to do this, of course, is to make things that last — timeless designs that will be a joy to use for many years. So that is what we set out to do.”
For Chan, a calming home has always been extremely important – and now it seems, the world is catching up. “Perhaps during the Pandemic many of us came to this realisation and took time to invest in creating a space we love.” Home is the place where we go to rest, recharge, be ourselves, feel ourselves. “It should reflect our purpose, needs and wellbeing. A calming home can mean different things to different people; it’s about creating a space where we feel at ease and reflect the rituals that are important to us.”
Q / A :
What does self-care mean for you?
Self-care for me is about feeding your soul with things that bring joy and saying no to things that do not.
What is your morning/evening wellness routine?
My favourite morning ritual is centred around making a pot of tea. I love the simple act of boiling water, listening to the water gradually heating up and anticipating that first cup of tea! Then, of course, it’s taking loose leaves and seeping them for a couple minutes. While things can move quite quickly in the morning (especially with three boys running around me!), making tea gives me 5-10 minutes to make something for myself. My tea ritual is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember; it grounds me and allows me to start my day calmly and patiently.
In the evening, I come back to myself by putting a drop of lavender oil on my reflection stone which I always have by my bedside. It is a signal to my mind and body that it’s time to rest, to let go of everything in the day and come back to myself.
“We have the potential to be our best self only when we have rested well. I believe that rest is the basis of wellness.”
What do you do to soothe your soul and find peace?
Walking in nature with my husband or a good friend soothes my soul. I love doing it with someone I know because the company is so soothing, I feel cared for and oftentimes we do not need to converse but just be together.
What’s an important piece of wellness advice you can give?
Time away from digital devices is key to clearing the mind and opening our hearts. I make a habit of letting my phone ‘rest’ at night and I store it in the living room away from my bedroom. It was difficult at the beginning when I started this habit five years ago, as I found myself going back to check messages and finding excuses to check my phone. Over time, the opposite happened. I now cannot sleep well if my phone is in my room. Being device-free turns our bedroom into a true sanctuary and makes for better rest and more peaceful awakenings.
An inspirational quote that resonates with you?
“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” - Mahatma Gandhi. This speaks to me because it seems that most of what we do day-to-day adds more complexity, activity and ‘stuff’ to our lives. This quote from Gandhi is a simple way of challenging our minds to do the opposite. To slow down.