In an intimate conversation on the journey of motherhood, jewellery designer and LA-based creative Stella Simona speaks about coming to terms with her new role and the ways it has changed her.
When a child is born, so is a mother. Exploring the birth of her new identity as a young mother, jewellery designer Stella Simona shares the journey behind her first tentative step towards motherhood. In conversation with the LA-based designer, Simona recalls how the shape of her life has evolved with the birth of her son. After years of being the creative force behind her brand Haati Chai, Stella reflects on the self-defining experience of motherhood and how this experience has inspired a renewed sense of intention and clarity. Celebrating the creative potential of women, we sat down with the LA-native to speak about tradition, rites of passage, and the ways motherhood can profoundly redefine one’s sense of self.
I feel more gratitude not just for myself but for all women. There is so much that we are capable of.
TBE: How did becoming a mother change you?
Stella Simona: When Noah was born I had this new sense of empowerment. I felt more gratitude not just for myself but for all women. There is so much that we are capable of. We have the power, not just of birth, but to raise and guide the way they look at the world. After giving birth, I really felt like there was an awakening within me. I was motivated to live a more intentional lifestyle that considers how I can condition myself to be better for him and for myself.
Daily I have to think about what I want to put into his life. When my parents first moved to America they were working on their businesses, I remember being taken around everywhere with them. It really helped give me a much bigger perspective on life. I think that’s something my parents instilled in me. I want him to grow up being accepting and open-minded, so I always make sure I travel with him and introduce to different situations, societies, and cultures.
Most often, whilst they have left their ‘mother’ country they haven’t left the mindspace.
TBE: So your mother came over to America from India before you were born?
S: Yes when she was about 33, she came out here and had us. She was born in Kolkata and raised traditionally in Bangladesh. Her family were upper middle class so she grew up learning English, went to school and even had a career as a school teacher. But after getting married, she moved to America and dedicated her life to her children and her family. She was traditional in that sense, but a lot of the values she taught us were more liberal and modern. This is what empowered my sister and I to be more creative rather than getting stuck in a previous era.
TBE: What was the move to the US like for your family?
S: When my mother came to America she was lucky enough to have her whole family move out here with her. Everybody relocated; her mother, her father, her cousins, her siblings. So, here in America, I had my culture around me at all times. There were constant reminders of who we were in everyday life, through family get-togethers or the food we ate at home.
But I know they struggled. I always talk about this with my friends whose parents come from the same background. I think what happens with immigrant parents is that they become very nostalgic and end up going back. Often, whilst they have left their ‘mother’ country, they haven’t left the mindspace. They spend entire lifetimes reminiscing on the “times before we left” and they can’t move past it.
You really have to learn to step back and just remember there is no right way of being a mother.
TBE: In what ways do you feel you have learned from your mother?
S: She’s a really good multitasker and has passed that trait on to me. I really love that about her. She can do everything at once and always so quickly! She was also really involved in our education. She made sure to teach us about our culture at home. I try my best to follow her example and teach my son about his two backgrounds and where he comes from.
TBE: Would you say she had a more holistic approach to parenthood?
S: I would say so. The generation before to her was very reserved, so she had to take what she could from them and then adapt it into ways that worked for her. I think with motherhood, there are no rules. The best advice I received was from my mother-in-law’s sister. She said, ‘don’t listen to everything. Listen to your instincts first’. Motherhood is a matter of combining your instincts with what you think will work for your family.
There have been moments I’ve sat down and thought; “Am I doing this the right way? Is this going to benefit him?” You really have to learn to step back and just remember there is no right way of being a mother, the main thing is that you are there and have the best intentions in mind.
During pregnancy, your body changes so quickly, every couple of weeks you are growing in a different way.
TBE : There seems to be a lot of pressure on women, particularly new mothers to have it all – to have an incredible body, to be a great mum, and to have a great career. Do you agree?
S: I definitely think so. But I feel that aside from that pressure (that is always going to be there), there’s also a voice that is much more accepting and body positive. We are all embracing who we are rather than who we feel society is asking us to be.
During pregnancy your body changes so quickly, you don’t really have a chance to process it. Every couple of weeks you are growing in a different way. You’ll be sleepy, then suddenly you’ll have a burst of energy. There are all these shifts, and you don’t get a chance to pause and say “ok, this is my new body now, I accept it”. But when you do, you realise how powerful your physical body is and how beautiful it is for that reason. It took almost a year for you to have a child so it’s going to take at least year to get it back, so take it easy on yourself! When I started looking at it that way, I found I had a much healthier outlook.
One of the things I’m trying to teach Noah is that your life is what you make it.
TBE: What is one of the greatest responsibilities a mother can have to herself?
S: I think it all starts with making sure you take time for yourself. If you don’t sit down to do that and really unwind as much as you dive into things, you are going to lose touch with yourself very quickly. It is going to drive you crazy. One of the reasons I started my blog was to really sit down and take a breath. It’s a space where I can collect my thoughts and just reminisce about all of the parts of my journey and myself that I really embrace. And, the things he has taught me and all the amazing things that have happened since becoming a mum, I would never give them back. One of the lessons I’m trying to teach Noah is that your life is what you make it and that happiness comes from this strong sense of self.
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Haati Chai was established in 2011 from designer Stella Simona’s desire to fill a void for heirloom jewelry. For designer Stella Simona, Haati Chai has been a narration of her heritage, culture, and her journey to self-discovery. As the daughter of East Indian immigrants, Stella realized at a young age that her background was unique. Being Bangladeshi and American, she constantly felt caught between both her worlds. Each piece in her collection is designed to play a symbolic role in the wearer’s life— everyday heirlooms to be passed down between generations, carrying on the stories of those it has touched.