Meet Stella Simona & Ali Heiss of jewellery brands Amarilo & Haati Chai. We spoke to the inspiring duo about their career journey to date, how they both stay organised while running two fast growing businesses, their stationery go-to's & goals for the coming 12 months.
How did you both meet & start your businesses
Stella: We both started jewelry because of a void we saw in the market -- there was no beautiful fine jewelry for women by women. Everything was designed and marketed from a male gaze and we wanted to shift the narrative and speak to women of all walks of life.
Our story is unique. I originally founded Haati Chai, Ali founded Amarilo in 2011. Three years into owning our own businesses we met through a mutual friend. Originally we kept in touch because it was so refreshing to have someone to catch up with who also experienced the same day in the life -- customer emails, production issues, celebrating new clients together, etc. Then we both began to experience rapid growth and began looking for offices separately but in the end realized how cost effective it would be to share one space. From there our first year we worked side by side often, and when it came down to hiring our first employees we made the strategic decision to share our staff just like we did our office. Then by the end of the year we launched a capsule collection between both the brands. Working so close together we learned how we naturally gravitated towards specific sides of the business and how efficiently we worked together. By our second year of collaborating we made the ultimate strategic decision to co-own both companies and work for each other. The rest is history.
How do you create distinction between the two jewellery brands?
Stella: Honestly this comes very natural to us. Each brand is a direct reflection of each of us. Amarilo is true to Ali and Haati Chai is a reflection of myself. As true jewelry lovers it’s refreshing for us to work on both brands and in two different ways and place our ideas with the brand that it fits with best. Whether it be a design, or packaging we get to create in different ways and the contrast keeps us constantly inspired.
How does the design process start and how are each of you involved?
Stella: There are several different ways. Sometimes we have an idea in mind and then we create a sketch, then eventually a mold, and then the final piece. Other times we sit down and just make by hand whatever comes to mind, then we iron out the details such as how to standardize the piece so it can be mass produced.
Stationery wise - are you a….diary lover / to do list lover / calendar lover / sketch book lover - or all of the above?
Stella: I love to do lists and calendars. They bring me so much joy.
Ali: To do list lover and Sketch book lover :)
What are the workspace essentials we would find at your desk on any given day?
Stella: Colorful post its, a black ink fountain pen, Laptop, tea, a notepad.
Ali: Notepad, a black ink fountain pen, Laptop, COFFEE. The marriage between pen and high quality paper brings great joy to me! I used to practice
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learnt from your business growth?
Ali: Your business growth is directly tied to your personal growth. Don’t sacrifice one for the other, you can indeed do both at the same time.
Stella: I echo Ali’s thoughts 1000%.
Career advice for young women / what would you tell your younger self?
Stella: Listen to your gut, and always remember why you started as you embark on new chapters of your journey it will help you remain true to your brand and self.
Ali: To myself, keep doing what you’re doing and it’s ok to be selfish with your time.
Who is in your support network?
Stella: Friends, other founders, my husband, my fur babies(great for de-stressing).
Ali: women like ourselves, women unlike ourselves
What are your goals/focuses for the next twelve months?
Stella: Our lines grew rapidly, too quick for a two woman operation which only recently expanded to 4. We’ve always held many hats -- it’s one of the perks that come with being an entrepreneur. However during this time we are keying in on rebranding, expanding our home line for Haati Chai, launching co-branded collections for both brands. We understand this is a lot of big goals for 12 months and we need to make sure we maintain balance within ourselves. Both of us are focusing on self care in our own ways to help remain centered.
Imagery from Instagram via @stellasimona @akheiss @amarilo & @haatichai