Shiva Safai, a model, entrepreneur and Instagram influencer, is influencing the way young girls and women view themselves through beauty and fashion. She’s taken her years of operating a criminal-background company and applied it to building her lifestyle brand. With the launch of her new jewelry collection in collaboration with Noush jewelry, Safai is building her empire one business at a time.
“When thinking of the collection,” Safai stated. “I wanted to create pieces that are meaningful to myself, my culture and my followers in every detail. I want to show kids that anything you dream of you can achieve. You have to work hard and believe in yourself. There’s going to be people who won’t believe in you and who would want to destroy your dreams and your self-confidence. As long as you believe in yourself you can achieve anything you want.”
What started off as just a job, turned into the beginning of Safai’s entrepreneurial journey. Before the term ‘social media influencer’ emerged, she focused on the operation of her own company that conducted criminal-background checks. She quickly picked up on dealing with everything from traffic violations to felony charges and violations. “It never felt like work,” she shares. “I was intrigued by all the court cases and all the information I would get on a daily basis. One year turned into 10-years of running the company.”
She opened her first company with one of her cousins. Unfortunately, there was a falling out between the two of them. Through this experience, Safai strengthened her self-confidence and made a promise to herself to remain steadfast. “I was devastated,” she shares. “I wanted to give up and go back to Norway. I would call my mom every night. She kept saying, ‘you have worked so hard. You’ve done it once before and you can do it again. If you quit now, you’re going to let them win.’ My mom was there to talk me through it and give me the courage to restart the company again and I did. The second time I did it that was the successful one.”
Safai had a commute from Orange County to Los Angeles where her office was located. She would bring her sleeping bag with her and sleep in the office, sometimes two-to-three days a week. With a short staff, Safai had to work longer hours to ensure that her company thrived. “If people said that one day I would get into fashion and beauty,” she states, “I would say ‘there’s no way.’ I never saw myself in that world, although, I always loved fashion. After dissolving the partnership [of the second company], this fell into my lap. It was a completely different world.”
“It taught me,” Safai continues, “that working hard and believing in something will get you to your dream; you just don’t give up. It’s never easy, ever. It always takes hard work. There were days where I wanted to give up, and I thought I was failing but I wasn’t. In actuality, I was growing. There were a lot of errors I made but I learned from it, and I did it bigger and better as the years went by. I’ve learned that sometimes things don’t go the way you want but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Your work ethic is important. That is one thing that has stuck with me since opening up my first company. It disciplined me to put in the hard work. Only you can be responsible for your own success; no one else can do the job for you.”
Gradually, Safai began modeling. It wasn’t until she and her fiancé, real-estate mogul Mohamed Hadid, joined the cast of E! Network’s Second Wives Club that she entertained the idea of starting her own fashion beauty media brand. “This is the next chapter of my life,” Safai smiles. “Being on the show made me realize this was the next career I was going to get into; where I would focus my energy.”
Although Safai’s journey has been unconventional, she has always remained true to herself. She shares her three essential steps to making pivoting successful:
- Determine if this is really the right choice you’re making. Sometimes opportunities sound great on paper until you actually have to put in the work necessary to make it a success.
- Make sure you’re mentally ready for a change. Pivoting can be mentally and emotionally draining because you’re leaving something that you’ve been used to, comfortable with, to a new aspect of your life that is brand new.
- Be prepared for that change. Ensure that you have a backup plan. You never know what will happen.
“I love the creativity part of fashion,” Safai concludes. “I love how it evolves throughout the years. Not everything in fashion can translate into who you are, and your own personality. You have to be true to yourself. It’s very important to go with what you love and create your own sense of style. Once you do that, people will see that and it will resonate with them.”