Charlotte is a certified yoga and meditation teacher based in Hong Kong, who is also a photographer, the Founder of White Creative Studio and a columnist for several local publications.
As a lifestyle influencer whose Instagram account (@charlotteinwhite) is followed by more than 24,000 people, Charlotte often shares her everyday life and thoughts on social media. Her minimal Instagram feed is filled with pictures taken in her scenic studio located in the bustling district of Lai Chi Kok.
Having been a photographer for 10 years, Charlotte decided to open her own studio a year ago, which is a place combining wellness, yoga, and photography.
The idea to open Forest & Still studio was born on her trip to Bali during meditation. “One day when I was meditating, I saw this place. It appeared in my mind that I would own a place where I could share yoga and I also can shoot/ film there, to do my creative things.”
“It just popped up in my mind one day when I was meditating.”
Living in a Vegan and Minimal Lifestyle
The story behind Charlotte’s path to veganism was inspired by the Chinese tradition of mourning the deceased. Seven years ago, Charlotte became Vegetarian after losing her loved one. In the Chinese tradition, having no meat –meaning no killings were created – in the diet can purify one’s body and spirit, and thus one can send blessings to the departed souls.
At first, Charlotte didn’t expect she would become a Vegetarian ever since, not to mention the years of Vegan and minimalism journey that followed. “I feel much without eating meat, so this has been my habit for seven years.”
“One year after I became a vegetarian, I started living a simple lifestyle.”
The purity of having a clean diet inspired her not only in terms of eating habits, but also other aspects of life, such as the way she dresses, thinks, buys, and lives.
A day of a Charlotte’s Life
“I am literally living a ‘grandma lifestyle.’ I always joke with my friends because I sleep very early, like 11 pm at night, and I wake up naturally at 6 am every day,” Charlotte laughed.
Kick-starting the day with meditation has become a routine for her, in addition to drinking water which keeps the body hydrated and wards off sleepiness.
“If I have time, I will spend an hour or 90 minutes in yoga. But if I don’t have time, I will make sure to have at least 15 minutes of yoga practice, then 30 minutes of meditation practice.”
In the afternoon, Charlotte likes making herself healthy and vegan lunches with fresh ingredients from local grocery stores. If time allows, she would take an energizing 20-min nap.
While the mornings are most likely for more creative and productive work, the nights are for more relaxing activities.
On the days that Charlotte doesn’t have yoga classes to teach, she loves having some nighttime reads before going to bed.
“Every day, I have the same routine, this routine actually creates space for my creativity,” she said.
10 tips to start a minimalist lifestyle
- Reduce impulsive shopping
In the trend of fast fashion, people tend to shop without consciously knowing what they need. Being indulged in yoga and minimalism for years, Charlotte said she has learned to stop buying unnecessary things, citing a trick she learned from a Dharma talk on YouTube about Buddhism.
“When I went into the boutique, I saw a necklace that I liked a lot. I would remember it, and then I would go away. So after two or three days, if I still remembered this necklace that I liked a lot. I would go back to it, but not at the moment that I saw it,” she said. “Also, you can make sure that you really like that thing a lot.”
“People buy things impulsively. They go shopping, and they browse around and see something they love then they will be like ‘Oh, this is so pretty! And the price is not expensive, I will have this.’ But after they bring it home, they regret it when they find three similar tops in the wardrobe.”
- A great for healthy lifestyle beginners
“One book that inspired me a lot is that, three years ago I was in London, and I was in the Airbnb home and I saw a book.”
This book named “Self-Care for the Real World: Practical self-care advice for everyday life” written by wellness pioneers Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips focuses on some small and achievable steps that one can try on a lifetime’s journey towards self-care.
“It’s about different aspects like what you eat, what you wear, how you leave. How to treat yourself better, how to love yourself,” Charlotte recommended this book for beginners.
- The app “A Mindfulness Bell” reminds people of the presence
Charlotte’s recent favorite app, “Mindfulness Bell,” is inspired by the beautiful Tibetan Singing Bowl. The app can ring at a specified interval – or random intervals – throughout the day.
“Once it rings, I will pause. Even when I’m talking with you, or writing things, or doing laundry, I will pause and take three deep breaths to train my mindfulness, to bring myself back to the present moment. Because most of the time, as we’re working, our mind is actually so far from our body.“
- Making good use of scents to relax
Many yoga experts and healthy lifestyle advocates keep a habit of burning palo santo. Known as “holy wood” in Spanish, the plant has been burned as an energy cleanser for centuries, according to experts.
Like many yoga lovers, Palo Santo is also one of Charlotte’s favorite wellness products, which she believed could bring positive energy.
People use palo santo as incense in yoga practice, letting the smoke fill the room to energize their bodies and help to focus. According to some scientific studies, the plant can help to reduce pain and improve stress response.
- Looking for other social media users for inspiration
Insight Timer has an Instagram account followed by 260k followers that shares quotes and wisdom of meditation and life advice, and is followed by 260k followers.
It also offers a free meditation app with guided meditations which are handy and convenient for those who want to try meditation amid the COVID-boredom.
- Vegan and cruelty-free make-up products
“Normally I don’t put on much makeup,” Charlotte said, “but I like the brand Too Faced.”
Like many people, she experienced mask-related skin problems during the pandemic. Choosing the right make-up product becomes an important topic, especially when the influencer has some public events that she will put on make-up.
The brand also has a line of plant-based make-up products emphasising on cruelty-free cosmetics.
- Local’s fresh fruits and vegetables paradise – Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market
Having fresh fruits and vegetables is essential for making tasty and nutrition-packed vegan meals. Local expert Charlotte knows the go-to-place when it comes to getting affordable and good-quality greens – Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market, where she can get fresh fruits in season at the best price in town.
The fruit market, which offers both wholesale and retail prices, is well-known among the local community for its good quality fresh food.
- Meditative music recommendation
Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds is Charlotte’s favorite playlist that she listens in everyday life and yoga classes.
“Every time I listen to his music. I feel peaceful, calm and very meditative.”
- To people who want start vegan lifestyle: Just do it
Getting started is often the most difficult step when we attempt to start a new hobby or a habit. For those who would like to try living cleaner, healthier, and more minimal, just get started!
“Don’t worry about the day that you didn’t do anything or you had a hamburger and fries, it’s okay. Life is all about balance. Just do it.”