A conversation with Racy Lim, founder of SAND Magazine

12 September 2017 - Interviews

Racy Lim is the founder and editor-in-chief of SAND Magazine, an independent magazine hailing from Singapore. Launched in 2016, the magazine “dissects the creative culture [and] what really goes on behind starting your own brand from scratch” and is stocked in Singapore, Taiwan and London.

Filled with in-depth pieces profiling independent brand owners and craft makers from around the world, the magazine is a celebration of individuality and independence. “Everyone has something to say,” says Racy. “They just need to be asked the craziest questions and given the proper platform to share their minds.”

With the rise of small business, “soloprenuers” and freelancers in Singapore and around the world, the magazine provides timely insight into the complexities of breaking the mould. What is it like for a young person to set out on their own? Where does one begin? Is passion enough?

SAND’s debut issue, titled 'Sustainability in Creatives', examines how “the modern generation presents us with wider room to explore and create in ways louder than before”.

“[Make] decisions for yourself,” says Racy. “A lot of people will try to steer you into a direction that they are familiar with. But be steered only if you want to and even so, [you can] alter your direction. It’s no fun being on the same route as everyone else. Remember: If you’re caught in a place that makes you feel jaded, you can always choose to get out.”

The Mindful Company (TMC): What did you want to be when you were a child?

Racy Lim (RL): I really wanted to be a lawyer. Later, a writer and musician. I used to write songs for myself when I was 15 to 17. None of my friends harboured any dreams of being in a band so I would email random people on the Internet and demand we write songs together.

TMC: If you came with a label, what would it say?

RL: Work in progress. Always.

TMC: What gives you energy?

RL: Being able to question life, be sorely disappointed, and question it again until I get a better answer.

TMC: How do you overcome self-doubt?

RL: It’s something I’ve been struggling with a lot in the last few years. Self-doubt makes you feel like you can lose yourself and everything you’ve built up for yourself. It can make you feel like you’re worth nothing, and make some people around you feel the need to call you out (negatively) for it.

I wish there was a formula to curing self-doubt but it’s a constant process of walking out of your own bubble and not letting your thoughts cripple you. It also helps to surround yourself with genuinely good people who can help nurture you. Reading memoirs by musicians [helps]. Travelling also helps me see that there’s a whole world out there. Self-care is important too.

TMC: What does success mean to you?

RL: You’re only successful if you have the ability to walk in and out of the door with good intentions.

TMC: What trait do you most value in others?

RL: People who are hyperaware of their surroundings. It’s important to know how to treat people right before putting your talents or abilities to use.

TMC: Name a fear that keeps you up at night.

RL: Dying with regrets.

TMC: Name a book that changed your life.

RL: For now it’s Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein. Even though I do not play music, it has always been an important part of me since I was a child. Music and memoirs by musicians shape my beliefs and the way I live my life. It’s good to have a certain level of spontaneity and rebellionsomehow it keeps me grounded and helps build healthy perspectives on difficult issues in life and work.

TMC: What are 3 things you do to lead a meaningful life?

RL: By telling myself to always remember to / that:
• Grow up, but never grow old.
• Listen to music, watch movies, read books / magazines, talk to yourself.
• Real ladies stand up for one another instead of tearing each other down.

TMC: At what point in your life did you first learn about your line of work? What called you to it?

RL: [I was a writer at] Wallflowers, an online platform that documented art from all around the world. I always knew I liked interviewing people and spreading good work [so that was] where I first had the opportunity to do those things.

I started [SAND Magazine] out of the desire to create and have something I could call my own.

TMC: What's the best advice you received when you were starting SAND Magazine?

RL: “Just do it. If you fail, stand up again.” Also, I’m thankful that I [never believed in] ‘staying in my lane’ or that ‘cool jobs are only meant for cool people’.

TMC: What is SAND Magazine's mission and what are your hopes for it?

RL: My goal is to create something that transcends genre and rules. Eventually, I want to bring the magazine to a level where it speaks without the need for labels. No more a lifestyle, art or travel magazinejust a collection of all things that are born from the heart.

I want to talk about creative work like one would speak about life. With social media, it can feel like we have to constantly amp up our life and dramatise certain parts of it to feel interestingbut really, there’s so much beauty and depth in the simplest things that I wish to bring light to.

TMC: What’s the biggest overall lesson you’ve learned in your career/s?

RL: Something that I’ll always take with me is to ‘keep having faith’ and ‘never stop working’ (latter coined by Kenny Leck, founder of BooksActually, though he takes it a lot more literally).

Also, to be a perfectionist with a good heart.

TMC: What are the top 3 things someone should consider if they’re thinking of pursuing a similar path to you?

RL: • Always have grit.
• Be super aware of your surroundings and people around you.
• Feed yourself well with the little money you have. Use whatever little disposable income to travel, create and have fun.

You can get the first issue of SAND Magazine here. Find an international stockist here.

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