Lynette Ong is the founder of contemporary jewellery label, Edge of Ember. After leaving a career in finance, Lynette started the socially-responsible jewellery line that is handcrafted by artisan in fair-trade workshops in Indonesia and Cambodia. Lynette has lived in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, and is now settled in London with her husband, and dog, Chloe.
What kind of traveler are you?
Laid back - the highlights of my vacations are pretty much eating and drinking. I love sleeping in on vacations, and don't like jamming in a thousand different things on the schedule. I'm not a huge sightseeing person, I would go to the big attractions if it is my first time in a place but I much prefer experiencing a city through just walking along the streets, browsing at cute stores, sitting in cafes, and checking out restaurants and bars at a leisurely pace.
What is your favourite destination to date and why?
I love Italy. We drove from Milan to Florence, stopped in Portofino (SUCH a beautiful little town), and stayed a couple of nights in a countryside hotel.
I also really like Ibiza - great beaches, beach bars, and food.
Going to the Cotswolds in the Spring and Summer is also really amazing and relaxing. I feel like I'm stepping back in time when I'm in the country, I never thought I could live in the countryside until I went to the Cotswolds.
Can you tell us where to eat and drink in your favourite destinations?
We stayed at a really cute boutique hotel in Florence called JK Place, had an outstanding meal at Quattro Leoni (a friend's recommendation).
I don't really remember specific restaurant names in Ibiza, just beachside restaurants with huge paella pans and us going through numerous bottles of wine. We took a day trip to Formentera - that was the highlight of the trip and an absolute must do.
Pictured above: Quattro Leoni (credit: Dave Ciskowski)
You founded Edge of Ember. What is the ethos behind the brand, and what influenced it?
The brand ethos is a socially responsible one - ethical production (working with artisans on a fair wage basis) and contributing part of proceeds to charity (donated to nonprofits that work with the artisans' communities).
I worked as a corporate bond trader for six years, which was fun and dynamic, and afforded me a great lifestyle. But eventually, I got bored of the transactional, uncreative nature of the job, and I felt that my work was not creating any intrinsic value or making the world a better place.
This made me want to include a philanthropic aspect to my next venture. I was living in Hong Kong then, which means I was in close proximity to the infamous China production factories and resulting pollution hazard from them. The more I learned about labor practices, environmental issues, animal welfare and food/consumer goods production, the more I cared about all these issues. So when the idea of Edge of Ember slowly evolved, these were definitely influencing factors. I wanted to be involved in something that was not only motivated by profit (which makes it sustainable) but also aimed to do the right thing (which makes it meaningful).
You've traveled to the places where your jewellery is manufactured. Can you tell us about those places and your experience traveling there?
I've been to Kathmandu, Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Bali to connect with artisan workshops, and now I primarily work with organizations in the latter two.
Kathmandu was interesting, it was much less developed than I had thought it would be, and I had my first epic bout of food poisoning there. I'd definitely go back though, and especially venture outside of Kathmandu as I've heard amazing things about the surrounding villages.
I enjoyed Siem Reap more than Phnom Penh as it felt more cultural and less busy. Angkor Wat was obviously a highlight. Phnom Penh was interesting as the harsh aura of the genocide was almost palpable - with the reminders of that era scattered across the city (such as the Tuol Sleng genocide museum and the Killing Fields). I love Cambodian food - it is super tasty (and cheap) and is the perfect blend between Vietnamese and Thai - almost.
What are your 5 travel essentials?
- Mobile charger pack for my phone (I get low-battery-anxiety)
- Kindle (the only time I read)
- My multivitamins
- A travel candle (I'm really into scents)
What are some fashion travel tips you can share?
Easy pieces that don't require ironing. Lots of basics and neutrals so that you can mix and match (unless you're the kind that prepares outfits by the day, which I can never seem to do). Accessories that instantly glam up whatever you're wearing - like a good coat/blazer, hat or boots.
Have you ever stayed in a vacation rental property on any of your trips?
Yes in Copenhagen. I loved it - the apartment was really cute and well located. And I really liked being in an apartment instead of just one room in a hotel.
If there was one celebrity's vacation home you would like to live in for a week, whose would it be, and why?
I would love to live in Richard Branson's home in Necker Island. It sounds like paradise.
Pictured above: Richard Branson's home in Necker Island (credit: The Daily Mail)
Stylish stays in Lynette's favourite destinations
This bright apartment is in the historic center of Florence, near the most important monuments of the city. From its terrace you can have a relaxing time and enjoy the beautiful dome of Brunelleschi.
This cottage in the Cotswolds is perfect for a romantic getaway in the countryside.
This stylish, modern apartment is a short walk away from the beach and Ibiza's city center.