There might be no better time to be a multi-disciplinary artist with a wide range of interests, and such is the case for Kelly Shami. She’s an accomplished jewelry designer, creative producer, writer, artist, and overall a truly inspiring female force. Kelly has done everything from a Design Lab with Apple, a sold out Air Max Day collaboration with Nike, to a book of poetry reflecting on her 10 years in NYC. Her eponymous lifestyle brand Shami is curated with her twin brother Mark and has been worn by some of our favorite artists including Ariana Grande, Megan Thee Stallion, and SZA. We were able to connect with Kelly, who’s currently social distancing in her New York City apartment, for another installment of On The Line With… to discuss how she’s staying productive, how she finds ways to unplug, and her advice to others. Read Up.
Describe what you do for a living and how you are adjusting to social distancing.
I am an artist, jewelry designer, and writer living in New York City. I stopped going to my studio and office daily and set up workstations at home as best I could.
How do you typically start your day? What daily rituals are you practicing?
I usually start my day by drinking hot water with lemon and mint and taking my dog outside. We are adjusting to either going to the roof or my building’s tiny backyard. I try not to look at social media as soon as I wake up. I have been using this time to make my mornings as peaceful as they can be. I have not been going outside leisurely, only with purpose.
How are you staying productive while at home? Any useful tips?
Treating Monday through Friday as if it were business as usual is helping my productivity. I am talking to coworkers as well as using my later hours for my own creative projects. Even though it may be a new feeling to treat your home space as a workspace, clearing my desk and zoom conferencing is making work feel as normal as it can be at the moment. Dressing up a little for zoom meetings makes me also feel a little more prepared. On the weekends, I am spending more time talking to friends and family, painting, and designing new jewelry concepts.
What is keeping you grounded/balanced at the moment?
I started cooking Lebanese food for the first time. It is making me feel close to my mother even though I can’t be with her right now. I even used some of her recipes while we were on FaceTime. Eating nostalgic foods from my culture comforts me and almost makes me feel as if I am with my family while teaching myself something new.
During this time of social distancing, people are leaning on things such as streaming services, puzzles, painting, at-home workouts, to name a few. What activities are you using to take your mind off of things?
I brought whatever painting materials I could from my studio to my apartment by bicycle. Painting passes the time for me, even though I am risking making a mess with oil paints, I am trying my best to work on a smaller canvas and keep the flow going. I would just do something you love, for me that is drawing or painting.
How have you stayed connected to friends and family during this time?
I recently had my birthday during this quarantine. It is such a blessing to have FaceTime, Zoom, and all other methods of video communication! I keep reminding myself that this method is the best way we can do our part to help others as well as comfort and stay in touch with each other.
What advice would you give to someone who’s struggling in isolation right now?
If you are struggling with isolation, I found a few methods that have been helping me. Make weekly or daily lists of things you want to accomplish, these things can be big or small. I find that following a written list is super motivating. In the morning, make your bed and even try to get an indoor workout in, 10 or 20 minutes would even be a good start. Sweating a little relieves that tension and anxiety. Although I do tend to be an insomniac, I am trying to wind down earlier with tea and no phone time. Make a watchlist of your favorite films, documentaries, or shows and try to always have something good or inspiring if you need it. Lastly, your space can affect your mood, so clean it up or organize as best you can so you can feel some clarity. It’s also a great time for organizing your wardrobe and various collections. Save a pile of things to donate for the future. A bonus great thing to do is to see how you can assist with making or arranging PPE for your local hospital or how you can give back to businesses around you that are struggling right now. Giving back in any way possible always lifts my mood.
What accomplishment are you most proud of while social distancing?
I am definitely most proud of the cooking and reading I am getting done. I have realized sometimes life moves too fast, especially in New York City, and you have to slow down to be one with yourself. Staying inside isn’t hard for me, but I am happy that I can be helping others while doing so! It is important for me to do my part because our health workers and essential workers are doing their brave jobs every day.
What are you most looking forward to once this is over?
I am looking forward to seeing New York come alive again. I believe we will have a newfound respect for one another and our environment. I am also looking forward to hugging my parents and physically going back to work with my team.