For Taiwanese model-turned-entrepreneur Monica Chen Yi-ping, there is nothing more important than spending time with her daughter, Lyann. Chen's schedule revolves around her daughter's. After Lyann is off to school, Chen attends to her many businesses, including the Homeless lifestyle chain and Another Fine Day café. Then she picks up Lyann from school.
"Every weekday is more or less the same for me," she says. Chen's typical weekend involves spending quality time with Lyann and by herself. "My daughter takes ballet and tap dance classes on the weekend, so I also get to have some 'me time', which I spend taking photos of historical buildings in Sheung Wan," she says. "I also watch ballet videos with [Lyann] to help her hone her craft. I encourage her to be humble and keep learning."
Chen divides her time between Hong Kong and Taiwan. "Hong Kong's pace can be overwhelming and Taiwan, where I spend five to seven days every month, reminds me to do things at my own pace," she says.
Another Fine Day, which Chen opened last year with two partners, is all about finding one's own pace. "I hope that people can take their time at the café," she says. "In Hong Kong, people are always on the run."
Visitors to the café are encouraged to write a letter to their future selves, a time capsule that will be mailed to them later.
"We don't tell them when we will post the letter. When they receive it, they will be pleasantly surprised by the thoughts they had or realise that they have achieved the goals they set for themselves," she says.
Chen, who is in charge of teaware at the café, also plans to launch a tea brand for Another Fine Day.
"I like tea appreciation because it is a never-ending learning process and it helps you to attain peace of mind. Every little step, like how to place the teacup, requires attention to detail," she says.
Chen has another café in Taipei with the same philosophy on time. "Cher Cher is a dream come true for me. I wanted to create a space where people can unwind and tell each other old stories over tea and coffee, and appreciate the antique pieces that adorn the café," she says.
A decade ago, Chen set up a spa with two friends. It was her first business but it already hinted at her continuing devotion to helping people to lead a slow life.
"We wanted our customers to relax at the spa, so we didn't sell them any packages," she says, adding, "I plan to publish a book about Taiwanese places that help people to lead a slow life". VI