There are people who transform their passion into a career, but Lubna Salah took it a step forward by establishing a dedicated profession that is inspired by a difficult period of adversity in her life. Based in Beverly Hills, House of Shakti is a beautiful synthesis of Salah’s artistic, holistic and spiritual leanings. She handcrafts gemstone jewelry -- that is chosen according to each client’s aura and energy field in relation to the healing properties of the gem -- for the purpose of healing the “mind-body-spirit connection” and for personal growth. Her own battle with personal health issues introduced her to the study of Eastern philosophies and holistic therapies, and, ultimately, a longing for a creative outlet brought forth House of Shakti.
Aslan Media: When was House of Shakti founded and what was your family’s — and the public’s — original reaction to the start-up?
Lubna Salah: I founded House of Shakti in January of 2009. I think most people didn’t take me seriously when I said I wanted to do this. I had spent so many years in a successful career in Marketing and Advertising that most people thought this was some kind of phase I was going through. The truth is, I had been subconsciously searching for an outlet for my creativity for a long time and jewelry just clicked for me. When you love what you do and commit yourself to it, you are giving of yourself in an authentic way. My favorite quote about work is from Khalil Gibran’s Prophet,
“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger.”
My jewelry is my love made visible and that is what made people into believers.
AM: How does your heritage influence your aesthetics and design philosophy?
LS: Palestinians and Arabs can be very passionate and generous people. A lot of their art is an expression of their journey and struggles and is something that has influenced my design process. I design pieces that reflect my own inner journey. The fact that it resonates with others only goes to show us how the human condition is a common thread that binds us together. We all have our struggles, our triumphs, and our lessons, but it is when we share our stories with each other in the way we know how to express ourselves, we are truly connecting with each other. For me, it was through jewelry.
AM: Did you have an inclination towards jewelry making while you were growing up?
LS: I have always loved designing and making things. I studied engineering and learned welding and woodwork. I briefly studied fashion, so I can sew. When I decided to work with crystals, I taught myself how to make jewelry and designs that I felt were wearable. I strive to design items that are not only beautiful but functional as well, like our scarf necklaces, which can be worn in at least fourteen ways.
AM: Tell us a bit about how your own experience with fibromyalgia and PTSD motivated you to study Eastern philosophies, holistic therapies, ultimately leading you to spiritually-inspired jewelry?
LS: At the time I was spending a lot of time with doctors and through that experience, as well as my aversion to pharmaceuticals, I found myself studying yoga and Eastern philosophy. These teachings just seemed to resonate with me, particularly nonviolence. The beginning of healing is practicing nonviolence towards the self. While I was studying for my yoga certification, I came in contact with a lot of holistic therapies, including crystal healing. I had purchased some jewelry made with this intention and felt that it worked for me. Enough that I decided to study the healing properties of gemstones further. I wanted to do healing work and was also studying Reiki at the time.
Ultimately, I chose crystals as my healing medium as I had always enjoyed fashion and crafts. Through my studies of Eastern philosophy, I learned about something called “Shakti,” meaning “sacred force of empowerment.” Shakti energy was thought to be the dynamic forces that move the entire Universe. I liked the idea of infusing my work with Shakti, a combination of my desire to be creative and also to share healing and empowerment.
AM: So how can your jewelry can be used for healing purposes?
LS: Crystals have been used since ancient times for their healing properties. For example, soldiers would have certain protective gemstones embedded in their armor. The Chinese would make beds out of jade for its power of overall healing and their belief that it brought good fortune. Chakras are energy centers in the body located along the spine. There are seven of them and each of them represents an area of our body and our lives. If and when it is out of balance, this chakra will be out of balance. So the combination of crystal and chakra therapy seems very natural and is done using what is called a “laying of stones.” This is done by placing crystals with the specific healing properties for that disease directly on the chakra. However, simply having the crystals in your energy field could suffice. So each design I create is designed with an intention in mind. I then select stones to match that intention or healing purpose and this allows someone to have the crystals in their energy field in the form of a beautiful piece of jewelry.
AM: Would you like to share any success stories of the healing power of your jewelry pieces?
LS: Here’s a letter I received from a client:
“You created a bracelet for my friend Jessica in December. She was battling stage four cancer that had metastasized into her spine. She was given 6-12 months to live. You may remember speaking with me about her. She loved the bracelet you designed and still wears it everyday. She called me the other day with the most shocking news....she is cancer-free! It's unbelievable! She went to the doctor for her usual monthly check, and when her scans and tests came back the doctors were speechless. The cancer just disappeared! Jessica never let the cancer beat her down, she always stayed positive, and I know that made a huge difference. I also feel the extra strength she received from your bracelet helped her win the battle as well. Thank you for doing what you do. I know you have encountered some skeptics, people who think what you're doing is a hoax, but I hope triumphs like these keep you motivated.”
AM: What has been House of Shakti’s biggest break yet?
LS: I was very excited when I was communicating with Sarah Attar, the first Saudi female Olympian. It was such a historical moment and I was so happy to have House of Shakti be a part of it. Sarah loved the jewelry and sent us this:
“You have been one of my biggest supporters! My sister said she wore the scarf to class and got a bunch of compliments! You have an excellent product! Thanks again for all of your undying support and kind words! It has been encouraging beyond words!”
I make it a point to reach out to those whose inspire me. I have been blessed to have received lovely thank you notes from Dr. Maya Angelou and Dr. Louise Hay. It is women like these that helped me heal and inspired me to do what I do so to receive acknowledgement from them would be something I defined as a “big break.”
AM: Tell us about your involvement with charities, especially about your initiative to donate proceeds from your sales to DIL Foundation in honor of Malala Yousafzai?
LS: We recently started selling some bracelets for charities. I was so inspired by young Malala and her bravery that I launched the Bravery Bracelet in her honor. I have always been a proponent of education, especially for women in developing countries that are still fighting for that right. Malala... well she is my SHERO. She is fearless and she is the future. I needed to honor that because it is girls like her that will change the world. Those shots that hit her, were shots heard around the world. It is time for the world to realize that the only way to fight ignorance and dangerous fundamentalism is through education and empowerment. For this reason, we have partnered with Developments in Literacy for their Universal Children’s Day campaign and are donating 50% of the proceeds from this bracelet to educate Pakistani girls in their schools. We are also selling a bracelet benefitting Hurricane Sandy victims by donating to the Red Cross. Recently, we also participated in a hurricane relief donation drive organized by Kirstie Alley.
AM: What is in the future for House of Shakti?
LS: I have been so amazed at the growth of House of Shakti and the community surrounding it. Everything including the designs has been an organic process. I hope to continue bringing healing and empowerment in all its forms to those around me, be it through jewelry or otherwise. I definitely have many ideas for designs and am always looking for ways to innovate in one way or another. It would be my dream to have a clothing line someday so I am working towards that. There, I have sent it out into the Universe.By Alnas Zia, Aslan Media Style Writer