Stella and I have a unique story, and I am excited to share with you how we met, and who we were before we started our businesses.
1. What was young Ali like? I was very patient and a good listener. My best friend was my dog. I would always go through my mom's jewelry box and just stare at her rings for HOURS.
2. What were your hobbies as 12 years old? Making jewelry, drawing, and reading. Looking back, I was a huge introvert.
3. What did you see yourself becoming an adult? I always told my mom I wanted to be a traveling artist, I didn’t even realize that this was a feasible profession!
4. Tell us something about yourself that hasn’t changed? I like to take my time to do things I truly care about. I also love to create things with my hands, there is something very calming about being hands on.
5. How were you introduced to jewelry? And how did that evolve into a business? I started making jewelry as a kid and tried to sell it to all my neighbors. It evolved into a business when I was in college selling jewelry online to help pay for college, which I was hoping would help pay for a career; the irony is deafening.
6. What advice would you offer to someone who doesn’t know where to start? Just start, your journey will help mold the direction, and don't be shy to talk about your business to others.
7. What was the hardest part of operating a business for when you first started? How about now? The hardest part of operating a business in the beginning was the operating part! It was difficult to do everything. Now, the most difficult thing to do is to make quick decisions and learning to say no to opportunities that might look amazing!
8. They say the hardest part is just starting something, what started it? Lucky for me, passion helped me start my business. I did not have too many expectations when I started, just that I wanted to do it, and I wanted it to be successful. Down the road, it was easier to define as a business. I think if I were to start the business now, I would have a completely different approach, but starting a business when you are 19 and juggling school and work paved my start very differently from other startups. I would also advise surrounding yourself with like-minded people, and create your own community. Now more than ever it is easier with the beauty of social media and the internet.
9. Any advice for balancing personal life and career? You don't always have to sacrifice one to have the other. As a hard-working dog mom, I strive to keep this balance equal. Jokes aside, as a woman, I know there is a lot of pressure to choose one over the other, but I believe if you are building your career, you should consider this, and aim to make time equally for both.
10. Tell us how you met Ali/Stella? I met Stella through a mutual friend, and she later kept in touch through Instagram! I was in awe of what she did with Haati Chai, and it was really invigorating to have romantic late night conversations with her until 4 in the morning about "aesthetic", "manufacturing", and "instagram".
11. How do you guys work so well together? Ah, such a beautiful question. Stella is the Ying to my Yang. In the beginning, we worked together well because we balanced each other's weaknesses. Now I feel like we both highlight each other's strengths.
12. How do you balance each other? See above :)
13. What’s your favorite trait about the other? Stella is fearless. It's something I have always admired in her.
14. What do you think is key when looking for a partner? Look for someone who listens and who shares your vision, and is willing to do anything to make it happen.
15. Where do you guys see your business in 5 years? Do you see your businesses being bicoastal? I see our businesses being international, so definitely bicoastal. Additionally, we are building our lifestyle narrative, something which has been a dream of ours from the beginning. We really want to focus on products that are beautiful as well as functional, which stems beyond jewelry and overlaps into home and beauty.
16. What inspired you and Stella to have an all women’s team? It actually happened organically. We didn’t go out of our way to only hire women, but it does bring me happiness that such quality women on our team share our vision.
17. Explain how you’ve seen Stella grow in your relationship. Stella is a visionary. She is truly an amazing leader, and it has been really eye opening and admiring to see how she has grown both as a mom and CEO, especially balancing the two!
18. How do you guys face challenges together? If you guys disagree on something how do you work through that? Like any relationship, communication is key. In the last 7 years, we worked hard to make sure we voiced our opinions and made sure to listen.
19. What is one funny memory with Stella? There are truly so many. Stella is a really light-hearted person and we are always laughing together. A few years ago we were purchasing some packaging materials, amidst the store was a collection of mannequins. She jumped in among them and pretended to be one, and we couldn't stop laughing. See question 23 haha
20. Tell us a fun fact about Stella (that your employees may not even know). Stella gets very uncomfortable when people make grand gestures for her. For example, any event that includes a surprise theme; when her husband proposed, her bridal party celebration, a birthday party, a gift. Sometimes she can't handle the attention, so she just gets up and leaves for a few moments. Honestly, it's hilarious. I hope to get this on video the next time.
21. Has Stella having a baby changed your life? Of course! Having a baby in any family changes your life, especially business. I would definitely say it has improved how we work because we realized even further how important our time is. We want to spend our time on things that truly matter to us, like spend time with Noah, and run a growing business!
22. What music do you listen to for inspiration? I love all music, but my current favorite for inspiration is Sofi Tukker and BØRNS.
23. Enclose your favorite image of Stella.
24. What is Stella’s favorite food? Stella loves all food, so it’s really hard to choose. Some of her favorites are Jamaican patties, Indian food, and when she was pregnant, only vegan. Honestly, it's really hard to be prejudice against any food, we have to try them all!
25. What’s one of the most iconic pieces that you created in the beginning? One of my favorite pieces I ever made from the beginning was the Fuck It Ring set. I liked it for obvious reasons, one being that people never really expected me to design, or even wear something so ostentatious. A piece at the beginning of working with Stella was our Asnee Ring from our Bandhu Capsule Haati Chai x Amarilo Collection. It was truly a blend of both our styles.