Sara Shala: Creating Her Mark in the Jewelry Industry

By Alexandra Anastasio

With a deep love for fashion and design, jewelry designer Sara Shala infused her passion for both and turned it into a career. Her eponymous brand, Sara Shala Designs, is a representation of what she has always believed, especially as a young girl growing up in the former Yugoslavia—that one day she would make the world a more “beautiful place.” Through the pieces she creates, along with her philanthropic work, Sara has stayed true to her promise as she continues to carry out her childhood wish daily.

With a keen sense of style and a natural flair for fashion, Sara, a former fashion stylist and PR executive, left the corporate world to fulfill her dream of creating elegant, timely, and unique pieces while building a business that would allow her creative freedom.

“Over the years I’ve worn many hats, from fashion stylist and public relations to advertising and sales,” she explains. “I’ve advised other fashion brands to help design their clothing lines and collections, and after playing all of these roles, I realized that design is really what I enjoy doing the most.”

While designing collections and custom pieces for clients, Sara’s work graces the pages of top fashion magazines and can be spotted on some of Hollywood’s hottest celebrities. Her work is bold, yet feminine. The architectural elements and beautiful aesthetics are what make the work Sara creates timeless. From first sketch to final polish, everything is done under one roof in the fashion capital of the world—New York City.

At BELLA, we are enamored by fashion—every aspect of it—and were excited to sit down with Sara to talk about how fashion and jewelry design tie together, where she finds inspiration, and what it’s been like being able to create the job of your dreams.

As young children we all have a vision of what we want to be when we grow up. What was yours?

Some of my earliest and fondest memories are being mentored and inspired by my teachers and professors. I always hoped that when I grew up, I would become one. Fortunately, now as a designer and creative lead of my company, I spend time educating and advising young designers on theory, creative research, patterns, technique, and refinement.

How did you get started in the business, and what led you to create your own jewelry company?

Shortly after moving to New York City, I became immersed in fashion. I’ve worn many hats, and after playing all these roles, I realized design is what I enjoy doing the most. Starting my own line allowed me to bring all my ideas to life.

Where do you derive inspiration for the collections you create?

One word—architecture! I love shape formations, symmetry, and asymmetry. I love the foundation and structure of things, along with all different materials. All these things can be found in architecture, both historical and modern.

As an avid traveler, do you find the places you visit provide you with inspiration as well?

Absolutely! Through travel, I’ve been able to immerse myself in different cultures. These influences play a big role in my designs both by inspiring new ideas as well as helping to shape existing ones.

Along with your designs, you also work on custom pieces. Can you share a little bit about the process?

The process is completely different, since every customer is different—there is no repeatable pattern. As a designer, I love the challenge of finding unique and creative solutions for my private clients. It’s extremely rewarding and allows me to explore additional avenues of my creativity.

What does it mean to be able to create these one-of-a-kind designs for a client?

It means a great deal to me. Clients bring me into their life to see the world through their lens, and I reflect that back into each custom piece of jewelry I design.

 

To create such unique pieces, one must have a creative eye. What is it about the process and the business overall that you enjoy most?

All aspects of the business are fascinating to me. But if I had to pick one, it is that this industry is constantly evolving. Change brings new challenges and opportunities every day.

In this issue we’re focusing on fashion, and when people hear the term “fashion” they often think of clothing, but it really encompasses much more. How do you think jewelry plays a role in fashion?

Just like punctuation in a sentence, jewelry completes a look. They support one another, and you really should not have one without the other.

What type of feelings would you say wearing a piece of jewelry evokes?

Jewelry evokes positive emotions. It elevates the mood, instills confidence in the person wearing it. Individuality, sophistication, and sexy are all feelings that an amazing piece of jewelry can evoke in a person.

You create all different styles of jewelry, from rings and earrings to bracelets and necklaces. Do you have a favorite piece?

For me, hands down, it is earrings; just on my left ear I have seven of them! At the same time, we express ourselves through gestures with our hands, so my rings and bracelets tie it all together.

As we’re talking about fashion, how would you describe your style?

I always go with a style that is clear and bold and one that is always day-to-night because my life operates in a New York minute!

Speaking of NYC, your studio is in the fashion capital of the world. What does that mean to you?

I wish every designer in the world had the chance to live and experience New York for at least one year. You learn so much from observation and conversations with other designers and producers within the industry. I tell members of my team we live in the cultural and creative melting pot of the world, go out and explore the wonders of NYC! Just walking the streets of New York, you are surrounded by inspiration and great design. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to have my brand be born and operated out of NYC.

Who are some of the fashion designers you admire?

There are a few designers whose style I appreciate, love, and admire: Tom Ford for his edgy style, Norma Kamali for that clean look, Issey Miyaki for timeless aesthetic, and Courrèges for setting fashion trends.

Your work has been featured in countless fashion magazines and worn by some of the hottest celebrities. Describe the feeling you get when you open a magazine and see this?

Behind the scenes it’s hard work and a long process before things like that happen, but it’s always an exhilarating feeling. I imagine it is like a musician playing at Wembley or headlining at Coachella. It is such a large stage, and I’m always thankful that over all the countless designs made available to them they chose mine. I’m deeply appreciative!

As you look ahead, where do you envision the brand heading?

At the moment the focus is global expansion—bringing collections and more access to our consumers. The future is bright, and I am excited over what’s to come.

More from Alexandra Anastasio

Celebrating the Industry’s Hottest Fashion Designers 

It’s that time again when New York City welcomes Fashion Week. Descending...
Read More