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How Stella met Ali

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I've been wanting to do this post for some time now for you guys.

Happy Tell Your Stories Day. 

Chai Time_Ali Heiss_Stella Simona

 

  1. What was young Stella like? Young Stella was very adventurous in her mind. I really loved the idea of exploring life in different places and I found myself escaping into the beautiful places I read about in my books. Many of them were of romantic places.
  2. What were your hobbies as 12 year old? I loved the idea of arts and crafts, lanyards and Lisa Frank bead kits were my world. I loved riding my bike and listening to Destiny’s Child.
  3. What did you see yourself becoming as an adult ? There were so many elements of different careers that interested me.  Looking back I always saw myself being able to give back in whatever I did end up doing.  I did not know what that meant at the time of course.
  4. Tell us something about yourself that hasn’t changed? As a Pisces especially, i’m such a dreamer.  I’ve always maintained the mindset of “I am capable of something if I just put my mind to it.”
  5. How were you introduced to jewelry? And how did that evolve into a business? In my native culture jewelry is a language in itself, a way for an individual to express their identity. The women in my family, especially my grandmother really helped me spark my love affair for jewelry and design. For me, the things that feel right have organically happened for me and jewelry is definitely one of those things.  
  6. What advice would you offer to someone who doesn’t know where to start? You can either lose a lot of time thinking about why you aren’t ready, and go in circles asking questions OR you can invest your time into getting started and approaching it with the mindset that you won’t know anything unless you try it. Experience is the best way to really learn something.
  7. What was the hardest part of operating a business for when you first started? How about now? For myself and for Ali, our businesses grew very quickly. The hardest part has always been hiring the right team. We both always understood that our team is essentially the core of the business. Inspired by how Ali and I thrive, we’ve always valued a team that supports one another and helps each other grow. Recognizing this quality in people was not the easiest for us. Though each of us brings our strengths to the table, this was an area we together have had to learn a lot about. Another huge learning curve was that in the beginning we approached things as they came, like most businesses we were learning what works best. Now, we have an established timeline of what to work towards which helps minimize surprises and increases efficiency and focus. Our biggest concern is that we want to make sure we are making proper preparations for what is next. For example, we knew the day would come when we couldn’t manage shipping orders in house. Our web orders have always been strong but it came to a point where we were no longer able to fulfill every order in house due to the quantities we were receiving. We took a lot of time and did a lot of research finding the proper fulfillment facility who could take over this for us and have outsourced this element which has opened time to dedicate in other areas of our business.
  8. They say the hardest part is just starting something, what started it? In the sense that it takes a lot of mental preparation to start something, yes it can be hard. For me, maintaining a steady business years in is much more difficult in my opinion. You have to establish yourself as an entrepreneur and not just an individual with talents that can be utilized. With each of our skill sets and what we brought to the table, everything definitely happened for us quite organically. It  was never a question of “are we doing the right thing by doing this” but more “What is next?”
  9. Any advice for balancing personal life and career? Yes. I’ve learned now that you HAVE TO do equal parts of each. Do your business you. Do your personal you. Don’t ignore one because it will shift the flow.
  10. Tell us how you met Ali? I met Ali at DTLA Art Walk. She happened to be vending. I was there with a stylist friend who was actually in search of minimalist jewelry for a project and she spotted Ali’s booth. I happened to be the person on the side who just observed Ali while my stylist friend was speaking to her. Fast forward and Ali kept popping up on a lot of my friends' timelines on Facebook -- somehow without realizing it, we had a lot of mutual friends. I ended up reaching out to her and having a whole conversation where I spoke to her as if she knew who I was because of course I knew who she was. Being the nice person she was she played it off like she knew me but had no clue who I was. Obviously i’m really amazing because look at us now. Haha.
  11. How do you guys work so well together? How can we not. In everything that we do, we truly love each other and want to make sure we help each other grow and grow together. 
  12. How do you balance each other? Yes we get along very well but each of us naturally gravitates towards different sides of the business. This allows us to approach things more effectively.
  13. What’s your favorite trait about the other? There are so many things I love about Ali but I would say something I love most about her is that she is comfortable to be around. On a personal basis, it really allows you to let your guard down and relax with her. As this is to the core who Ali is, she can't help but bring this to the business. You can just tell our customers appreciate her genuine trait that she brings to every customer interaction. When establishing our company culture, we’ve used Ali as an example.
  14. What do you think is key when looking for a partner? Ali and I put business first. Our friendship developed later. Both of us wanted the best for our business and we understood that would entail valuing each other and keeping the best in mind for the business first. Our journey put a lot of perspective into my views on partnerships. I can say we are an amazing example. Partnerships should be viewed as a business marriage.  Be ready to sacrifice, grow, adapt, and cultivate new elements all together. Additionally your partner should in a sense be your opposite.
  15. Where do you guys see your business in 5 years? Do you see your businesses being bicoastal? As an entrepreneur so much of your life is your business. Keeping that in mind, we plan to furthermore develop our brands as the lifestyles associated with them and launch more products and experiences that cater to the interests of our consumers. Having more of an intimate presence in a lot more regions is definitely in our future. We really love getting to know those who support us and have helped us grow.
  16. What inspired you and Ali to have an all women team? I think having a female partnership really set the tone. We really learned the power of women when you actually support one another. We wanted to create an environment for our team that also relayed this message to one another and those on the outside as well.
  17. Explain how you’ve seen Ali grow in your relationship. We spent the majority of our 20s together and in growing a business. It really has taught each of us a lot and forced us outside of our shells. I’ve really admired watching Ali develop her sense of style and her voice. As a business owner and designer, it’s really inspiring to see that as her partner. It’s really refreshing to see that we have grown as people.
  18. How do you guys face challenges together? If you guys disagree on something how do you work through that? We both know that we have the best in mind for our business. At the root of everything, we make it a point to listen to each other's views even if we disagree with them and have an open conversation about everything until we have reached a middle ground.
  19. What is one funny memory with Ali? It’s so hard to think of just one, neither of us are the most graceful women. We pass a lot of our time at work and outside of work entertaining ourselves with the most ridiculous inside jokes. One memory that stands out is going to Vegas together for the first time when we were just getting to know each other. Let's just say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
  20. Tell us a fun fact about Ali (that your employees may not even know). Ali is deeply invested in her dog’s instagram @samoyed.sumo, but I wouldn't say this is a secret at all.
  21. Has having a baby changed your life? Yes it has.  For me it was one of the most life changing experiences. I always felt I was serious and motivated but after knowing I was having Noah, I’ve been overcome with this sense of clarity.  We keep our long term goals in mind in everything that we do. We don’t take on any projects unless they feel right. Everything is intentional.
  22. What music do you listen to for inspiration? I listen to a lot of different genres.  Jewelry for me is for intimate, I bring a lot of sensual tones to our design partnership. Sade, Daniel Caesar, Yuna, H.E.R., Sabrina Claudio.
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23. Enclose your favorite image of Ali.

24. What is Ali’s favorite food? Ali and I’s bond has really grown stronger over the years over food. Food is one of our mutual happy places. Her love for food is multi-dimensional. I can’t say that she has one favorite dish or food. Ali’s favorite category I would say is soul food -- something that every culture has. She gets this high from adventuring in all the soothing elements of someone’s home cooked food.  This could be Szechuan she has learned to make at home, or a Chinese oxtail stew at one of her favorite restaurants in San Gabriel Valley, a really heavy all American burger, or my traditional Bengali curries.

25. What’s one of your most iconic pieces that you created in the beginning? For Amarilo I have always been a great fan of the threader earrings we carry. They’re such a classic staple. Personally i’m really drawn to the sensual movements of the slinky chain and all the different ways you can style it in your ears.  Amarilo’s initial pieces are signature staples of the brand as well. Throughout the years, this collection allowed many individuals to personalize the jewelry they wear on a more intimate level. For Haati Chai, I had designed this really regal ring called the Mehndi Ring. It consisted of two parts and was connected via a slinky chain. It’s definitely a conversation starter and unique piece to own in your jewelry collection and one of my faves to this day.  Body jewelry has also truly been a signature for Haati Chai - from anklets to slinky bra chains. Through the styling of these pieces, women have learned a new way to embrace their sensual side.

Hope you enjoyed getting to know us! Feel free to drop your thoughts and any follow up questions.

Follow the link to view Ali's Side of the Story

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