by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Stella Simona: “Self-care is all rooted in rituals.”

Haati Chai jewellery designer Stella Simona shares with BEAUBIT the inspiration behind her jewellery line, the importance of self-care rituals, and what beauty means to her.

Jewellery designer Stella Simona believes self-care is the secret to balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship. The Los Angeles native is the co-founder of jewellery labels Amarilo and Haati Chai; she’s also a mother and the epitome of minimalist style, with her tonal and effortless wardrobe.

Here, BEAUBIT finds out the meaning and inspiration behind Haati Chai, the joys of Stella’s self-care rituals, and what beauty means to her.

What’s your story? Where did you grow up and what is your heritage?

I am a first-generation Bangladeshi-American. My maternal grandparents and parents immigrated to Los Angeles in the late 80s and I was the first of my family to be born in America. I grew up very much connected to both of my worlds—both Bangladeshi and American cultures. I made it a point to embrace both. 

What was the inspiration behind Haati Chai? How do you want people to feel when they’re wearing your jewellery?

As a society, we are noticing this great shift where more individuals are seeking out the most beneficial lifestyle practices. Age-old practices such as Ayurvedic dieting, yoga, acupuncture, offer endless long-term benefits when practised regularly.

“Self-care is all rooted in rituals.”

A ritual specifically belonging to East Indians — the art of curating heirloom jewellery is a practice that transcends the idea of modern fashion; an era when individuals dress to look good but dismiss their personal identities.

Traditionally in Indian culture, women wear jewellery to symbolise different life moments. In some regions, a specific type of nose ring symbolises if she is single or married. In other provinces, it is said that piercing a certain part of the nose is said to relieve childbearing and PMS symptoms.

Many young women acquire pieces as coming-of-age gifts or gifts for passing an exam at school. Many women acquire pieces that belonged to female figures in the family, and these pieces remind them of their loved one. I specifically remember my Nani’s (grandmother) bangles which she wore every day that would jingle as she prepared our food for us in the mornings before heading to school. She knew I admired them so much and would remind me that they would be mine one day.

Every morning, as an Indian woman sits at her dressing area and indulges in her morning rituals — applying her kohl eyeliner, immersing her hair and skin in jasmine oils, and finishing with her layers of jewellery, she takes these moments to remind herself of her inner and outer beauty. The woman she once was and the woman she is now.

For an Indian woman, every piece she will wear in her lifetime has meaning to her. Every design she owns is as unique as her personal journey. Since its introduction into the culture, jewellery has always been embraced as therapeutic and ritualistic. Self-care is very important to me, and I wanted to make an impact on others through my love for jewellery design.

Where are you finding your inspiration these days?

I’ve always loved looking into old art and history in Eastern cultures and marrying them with Western ideas that are functional for day-to-day wear.

Our culture at large hasn’t always celebrated all skin colours. How do you think women can cultivate that sense of self-love? 

It’s important to remember that everyone’s definition of beauty is different. Above everything, understanding beauty to me is finding something so beautiful that you feel inspired, you feel free, you feel like you belong.

“Whether it’s through poetry, art, travelling, another individual—encourage yourself to find beauty’s essence in the world. In doing this, you will show yourself beauty has many faces—and that one of them is yours.”

What does female empowerment look like for you?

It’s supporting women regardless of whether you are a man or a woman. You lift women up for the greater good.

Let’s talk about your beauty routine. What does it look like?

It’s extensive. My beauty routine is one of my biggest forms of self-care. I love to get lost in the moment. Masks, tools, serums, oils, creams — I love to cater it to my skin and mood. Most of the beauty products I use are clean. I am a strong advocate for keeping an eye on the number of toxins we expose ourselves to. If something is equally effective and completely clean, then we should prioritise using it.

Are there any beauty tips from your culture you would like to share? 

Deep conditioning your hair with coconut oil to keep it silky and thick, and turmeric masks on the skin to keep it bright and glowy.

How much has your beauty regime changed since becoming a mother?

It’s only gotten more advanced; I didn’t indulge as much before having children. After having children, I’ve realised this is a great way to give myself me-time and to remind myself to put myself first. I can’t be there for everyone else if I’m not there for myself first.

What is your favourite beauty activity to treat yourself?

Lately, I’ve been loving gua sha massages.

How do you think the landscape of online retail will change after COVID-19?

Prior to COVID-19, the world was extremely congested in so many ways. Consumers had too many options and were confused. This only made it more difficult for brands to figure out how to stay on top. They were moving too fast and releasing too many collections, many of which had designs that were not ethically made. I hope consumers will become more conscious of how often they are buying and invest in pieces that are thoughtfully made and sustainable.

Stella’s Beauty Picks

Ranavat Botanics Luminous Ceremony Cream Cleanser, SGD67
Lesse Ritual Serum, SGD96
Femmue Lumière Vital C Serum, SGD120
Eighteen B B-silk Protein Defend + Nourish Eye Cream, SGD119
Circumference In-Depth Hydration Face Mask, SGD89
Maison Louis Marie No.4 Bois de Balincourt Body Lotion, SGD69
Taïla Skincare Prana Face Oil, SGD143

If you liked Stella’s story, there’s plenty more to come, just hit the ‘Sign Up’ button at the bottom to receive the latest round-up.