Interview: The Goddess + Soul Behind Karazi Design, Samia Shalabi

Samia Shalabi is not only one of the most gifted artists that I know, she is also one of the most compassionate, loving, genuine and humble souls I've been blessed to meet in life.  We first crossed paths in India a number of years ago and I was immediately drawn to Samia; she was already a successful jewelry designer, working in the back jungles of Kerala with one of her teachers to create incredible pieces.  What I didn't realize at the time was that the draw and attraction I felt towards Samia was in part due to her - Samia puts out so much love and beautiful energy to the world that it's nearly impossible not to be drawn in to her beauty, and in part due to the plain and simple truth that we are soul sisters.         

Jewelry: Karazi Designs | Photographer: Carly Brown

Jewelry: Karazi Designs | Photographer: Carly Brown

It is a gift in my life that Samia and I cross paths in different countries every year: Bali, India, Thailand.  Our lives seem to run parallel and our friendship and sisterhood tight, wherever we are in the world.  I am honored to share with you some words from Samia about her journey, truth and life work.

ZJ: What has brought you all the way from living in America to creating a home base in Bali, the dream of so many people around the world?

SS: Years ago, I started traveling, at that time I just knew I wanted to live in another country.  I fell in love with Asia in 1999 and have traveled to Asia nearly every year since.. While traveling two years ago, I came to Bali for the first time. And I didn’t want to leave, so I stayed. It has been completely magical for me. Now working the artisans here, creating and making jewelry in line with their traditional methods.

ZJ: Where do you find your strength in daily life?

SS: Sigh… There are many sources of strength for me. Two come to mind. One is if we have the ‘opportunity and the motivation’ to do something, I feel it is our duty to do it. This idea gets me through a lot. The other is faith and persistence. As a self-employed artist, I find I need a lot of faith and persistence to get through all the challenges life presents. It keeps me going.

ZJ: Can you share with us more about what it means for you to follow your truth?

SS: Great question. My truth is following what feels right, going with my gut (in most situations), not compromising my needs for others wants,  and going with the flow. Not resisting where it is all taking me. I do this with goals in mind as I am also a businesswoman trying to keep it all going, but I like to do it in a way that really works with the way that I am in the world. Not putting too many coals in the fire, enjoy as much as possible, all mixed in with good old-fashioned hard work.

Jewelry: Karazi Design | Photographer: Carly Brown

Jewelry: Karazi Design | Photographer: Carly Brown

ZJ: Where did the idea for Karazi Design originate from?

SS: Karazi Design started in Madison, Wi in 2001. My sister and I beaded jewelry and sold it every Saturday at the farmers market there. Karazi means bead in Arabic as our father is Palestinian and we wanted to somehow incorporate our roots into what we were doing. Later I moved to Seattle and kept the business alive, my sister decided to not continue. There have been many incarnations over the years, but this Bali moment is feeling pretty good.

ZJ: What is the bigger picture, your vision for Karazi Design, if any?

SS: Karazi Design’s mission is to tie together modern design with ancient artistic traditions. We started with this idea many years ago and continue to do it. I travel the world and work on a line of jewelry with the artisans wherever I go. Which has included, India, Egypt, Turkey, and Bali.  I want to continue this. Bridging the gap between ancient and modern, the East and the West while providing for myself and supporting the small guys along the way.

ZJ: Are there any announcements or promotional events you would like to share, that we would love to know about regarding Karazi Design!?

SS: We have a magazine feature coming up in YOKE magazines next issue and we recently collaborated on a photo shoot with Ludcidious Originals. It is all very exciting!!

[feature photo cred: Ole Ukena]

Zahara Jade