Modern Asian: Q/A with Stella Simona

Stella Simona is the Bangladeshi and American designer of the ethical jewelry brands, Haati Chai and Amarilo. Her designs are inspired by a woman's beauty and form, incorporate hints of East meets West, and are specially crafted to play a symbolic role in the wearer's life.

Many of her pieces are parts of a larger story. Simona aims to bring global awareness to a number of important issues, such as battered women in need and disaster survivors.

Simona is also an inspiring figure in motherhood. Since becoming a mother, she has used her experiences as inspiration in her daily life and in her business.

Read our mini-interview with Stella Simona below.

What does being a modern Asian woman mean to you?

It means being proud of my heritage but also advocating for the positive development of areas in our cultures such as women's rights and colorism.

How has your Asian heritage shaped you?

My Asian heritage is a big piece of my identity. I'm lucky to have grown up with the traditions and culture of my native roots. Having grown up Asian but also American taught me perspective from an early age. 

What’s the greatest piece of wisdom ever shared with you by your parents or grandparents?

My grandfather was a man of little words, but when he spoke he always had something valuable for me. He would always say to travel the world as much as possible, respect and enjoy other people's cultures -- their food, their rituals. You will learn gratitude for your own life this way.

How do you deal with racial stereotypes?

It's important for me to address them if they are incorrect. Silence won't allow change and using my voice is the most powerful thing I can do.

How do you define beauty?

Beauty comes from within. I always say the most beautiful people are the ones that are comfortable within their own skin. It's when one has reached a sense of self-confidence that unleashes their most beautiful self -- everything from their mannerisms to the way they put on their makeup shows this. It's effortlessness. True beauty has no boundaries, the most beautiful beings are one of a kind. 

How do we move the conversation forward?

There are still so many people within the Asian and non-Asian communities that feel "Asian" is a specific look. For example, I will see articles written by Asians or various beauty and entertainment platforms run by Asians that show only one face of the Asian woman. She is slim, she is fair-skinned, she's submissive. Many times South Asians like myself aren't even included as Asian. It is our duty as Asians who are in important positions to take the initiative and showcase the different faces of Asian. If you own a platform, if you have a significant social media following, if you have your own brand -- it is your duty to share a more realistic Asian narrative.