December 05, 2018

Introducing our December Muse of the Month - Melissa Teng, @witandfolly.  Known for her authentic storytelling and wanderlust-inducing photography, it may seem as though Melissa was born living the jetset life - but it hasn't always been that way. She first found success in the world of corporate America before taking a leap of faith to pursue her passions of travel and content creation full-time, and it's safe to say the change has worked in her favor. Her brand, Wit and Folly, aims to curiously and respectfully explore different cultures and inspire others with her discoveries. We sat down with this charming world traveller to learn more about her exciting new blog launch, her practical travel tips and her encouraging advice for those interested in pursuing their passion full-time. 

I hope you enjoy learning more about Melissa, and be sure to follow along on her adventures! XO, Crista

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An Interview with Criscara Muse, Melissa Teng

Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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Tell us a bit about you and how you got to where you are.

My name is Melissa, and I recently quit my 9-5 job in the healthcare industry to pursue my passions for travel, photography, storytelling, and content creation full time. I grew up in a very traditional Asian household to immigrant Chinese parents, and having me get a reputable job and financial stability was of utmost importance to them. They made the ultimate sacrifice of leaving everything they knew behind so that I could grow up in America - the land of opportunity, and have the best chance at success. So, I tried going down that traditional road of working in the corporate world, with all the job benefits and stability anyone could ask for, but I knew in my heart that I wasn’t truly content there.

While working in my 9-5 job, I ended up creating my Instagram account and really found my passion for creating content and storytelling through traveling on that platform. Eventually, there came a point where I had to make the decision to play it safe, or take the leap and follow my dreams. So, 6 months ago, I finally took that risk, moved to Seattle, and have been working hard every day to make my dream into a reality.

 Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

You've recently left the corporate world to pursue photography and social media full time - congratulations! Do you have any advice for those wanting to follow their dreams but may be fearful of the unknown?

Thank you so much! The best advice I can give those who want to follow their dreams but may be fearful of the unknown is that you’ll never know just how much you are truly capable of unless you give it a try. I am not a “risk taker” by nature - and in fact, I never even felt truly ready to take the leap and follow my dreams. Maybe you’ll never feel ready, and maybe you’ll never feel like the time is “right” to go after it. But you can either continue making excuses to yourself and live your life settling for contentment and mediocrity, or you can grow and learn by pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. I believe that we are doing ourselves a disservice if we let fear hold us back from seeking our truth. Often, what we are afraid of is what we most need to do. Ask yourself: what’s the worst that could happen? But also, what would the best outcome be? More often than not, the benefits will greatly outweigh the negatives when you put it all into perspective.

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Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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Is there any special meaning behind the name of your Instagram and blog, Wit and Folly?

To me, Wit and Folly represents the whimsical and often quirky way that I see the world. ‘Wit’ represents my drive to be creative, inventive and unique, especially in the face of mediocrity. ‘Folly’ is synonymous to being foolish, which comes from one of my favorite sayings by Steve Jobs: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” It’s my reminder to keep trying the things that people say cannot be done.

"Wit and Folly represents the whimsical and often quirky way that I see the world."

Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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If you had to choose, what's one place in the world you recommend everyone visit?

There are so many amazing places in the world, and I believe every place deserves a visit. But if I had to choose just one place to recommend, I would have to say Japan. It’s been of one of my favorite destinations I’ve traveled to so far, and really gives the best of all worlds. It’s fast and it’s slow, it’s high-tech yet also steeped in ancient cultures and traditions. It is absolutely breathtaking in its natural beauty, but also the perfect picture of innovation and modernity. It’s also amazingly clean and exceptionally organized – I don’t think I saw one piece of litter on the streets, and I actually enjoyed using their public bathrooms! From the always-on-time bullet trains to the way they compartmentalize their food… it’s just astounding how everything has a place here.

But perhaps above all else, what made me fall in love with Japan were the people. They are some of the kindest and most gracious people I’ve ever met while traveling. I love how thoughtful and considerate they are, and you can feel that respect permeate all aspects of life in Japan.

Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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Do you have any favorite travel tips you can share with us?

I used to be a huge planner and would get really disappointed if we didn’t end up getting to everything on my itinerary when traveling. But the more I travel, the more I understand that not everything will go as planned, and that’s perfectly okay! Instead of focusing on checking items off a bucket list, try traveling somewhere without a list! I’ve actually found that my most memorable travel experiences actually happen at the most spontaneous and unplanned moments. Usually, it’s the hidden gems found while wandering without a map that become the memories I cherish forever.

Another more practical travel tip is to invest in a portable charger! There have been too many times for me to count where I wanted to capture a moment with my phone, or needed to use Google maps to get somewhere… only to find out that my phone had died. Or I don’t know, maybe my cell phone is just too old and it’s time for an upgrade, haha.

Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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How would you describe your personal style? Is your style influenced by your travels and always being on the go?

My personal style has definitely changed throughout the years and has been influenced by my travels. It often depends on where I’m traveling to, but you can usually find me in a flowy dress, or wearing lots of colors. I would probably describe my style as free-spirited, a little bohemian, and most definitely whimsical. The biggest thing that I really focus on now though is quality over quantity; I look for unique pieces that tell a story or are made from sustainably sourced materials, rather than trendy pieces and fast fashion.

Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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What are your favorite pieces of Criscara jewelry?

There are so many pieces that I love, but my favorites would have to be from the Stardust collection, or really anything with turquoise! I love how easy it is to mix and match from different collections to really create your own style.

Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live by?

My mantra is to travel curiously, dream fearlessly, and live life with intention. This is something I’ve thought long and hard about this past year, and to finally have created a personal mantra to guide my life with purpose is extremely empowering. I strongly believe that if we keep an open mind, stay curious and are willing to learn about the world around us, we can more fully embrace whatever life throws at us. And to have the courage to pursue our dreams fearlessly will help us realize the life we are meant to live.

"...travel curiously, dream fearlessly, and live life with intention."

Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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So, what’s coming up next for you that you're most excited about?

Well I’m super excited that I’ve finally launched my blog, witandfolly.co, where I’ll be posting more in depth reviews/guides of my travels, as well as offering photography and editing tutorials! I’ve been working hard on my first collection of presets that I can’t wait to share as well on witandfolly.co to help others find their own editing style. Besides that, I’m excited to be spending the first half of 2019 living in Asia and doing a lot more traveling in that area!

Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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Where can people learn more about you and follow along?

You can find me at:

  • Instagram: @witandfolly (Shoot me a DM – I love to make new friends or collaborate with others on this platform!)
  • Blog: www.witandfolly.co (I’ll be sharing in-depth travel guides, photography tips, style hacks and more of my random life musings)
  • YouTube: Wit and Folly (Find travel videos as well as photo editing tutorials and a weekly vlog in the near future!)

Melissa Teng - Wit & Folly

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Photo Credit: Melissa Teng


 

✧ ✧ ✧ Shop Melissa’s Look ✧ ✧ ✧

Use discount code WITANDFOLLY at checkout for 21% off your order!

Offer valid until 2/5/2019. May not be combined with any other discounts.

 


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