Los Angeles-based designer Shaina Mote, whose label is built around ideals of quality, function, style and ease, shares her approach to achieving awareness and balance.
- You've completely reorganized your life around mindfulness, is that more or less right? Has it been a total life changer?
- In the past couple of years, I have striven to bring more awareness into my day-to-day life. I would say this shift in perspective has changed my life and helped create more balance and acceptance.
- Beautiful. And you're just off a pretty intense meditation retreat, too. What was it like? Any advice for someone who's interested in doing one?
- Yes, I just returned from a five-day silent Zen retreat in Upstate New York. The retreat experience is very specific to the individual. My experience is bound to be different from anyone else’s, but there are some things I can share that might shed some light on what that experience can hold.
- On my retreat, I meditated in silence for 5 days, 8 hours per-day. I did a range of walking mediation, free movement mediation and seated mediation. There is no communication allowed—no writing, texting, reading, drawing, talking, cell phone or computer use. The retreat cuts through—and cuts out—much of the noise of our everyday lives. What remains is the inner chatter of the individual's mind. From this place, one has the ability to observe the mind it its natural state of being.
- My advice for anyone going into it is to do it fully: don't cut any corners but to try your best to be fully there with the experience of it!
“My mornings typically include meditation, matcha, a run or a bit of yoga, a dog walk and a tall glass of water.”
- You've reoriented your living and working spaces around mindfulness as well, right? What changes did you make? How do they help?
- I have a space for mediation and art in the center of my home. Having a dedicated space definitely encourages my practice.
- Work wise, I just moved my office location into a calmer, more walkable neighborhood with much more nature surrounding it. I previously worked in a fairly chaotic neighborhood in Downtown L.A.. In general, I find myself and my team more relaxed and at ease in the new studio setting.
- Can you walk us through your morning routine?
- Around this time of year, my routine changes a bit on the day to day. Because I am working more with creativity for my collection, my schedule is formed around when I am inspired. Some mornings I have a long morning and wake early. Other mornings, I go straight to work on drawings or emails. Winter can be a bit more of an "interior" season, and is erratic for me schedule-wise. Fall and Summer tend to be a bit more driven by routine.
- My mornings typically include meditation, matcha, a run or a bit of yoga, a dog walk and a tall glass of water.
- These days, I like to answer all my emails from home and pop into my studio ready to collaborate with my team or work with my hands.
“I love the idea of having few things, but only quality, versatile things,” Shaina tells us. All-natural products like Vintner’s Daughter’s Active Botanical Serum and Jao’s Goe Oil—made from 28 plant, fruit, and flower oils—are the foundation of her beauty routine.
- What about technology detox? Do you struggle to stay away from your devices or does the intense practice automatically help make them not such a distraction?
- I used to be glued to my phone. Nowadays, I really can’t stand to be on it. I am not much of a texter—I prefer an in-person conversation or an old-fashioned phone call.
- There's a pretty strong association between mindfulness and minimalism: minimalism in itself is meditative, and meditation is pure, unencumbered focus. And it seems like every serious practitioner of meditation, from Steve Jobs to religious monks, gets by with remarkably few possessions. What do you think?
- I think someone who is practicing bringing more awareness into their life will likely notice a lot of the noise and exterior pressure to have more things, or to appear a certain way. I think when you strip down to the essentials, you have more space to explore new ideas and sensations, which bringsmore ingenuity and innovation into your professional life and more self-acceptance to your personal life.
- How does mindfulness show up in your new collection?
- My focus is on designing beautiful, well-cut, functional pieces that can be worn on a day-to-day basis. I use neutrals for ease of wear and I will put cues for versatility in my pieces in order to allow for something to be worn day to night. Every season carries this common thread of quality, function, style and ease.