We speak with the enigmatic Hasina Mahary on the Island of the Gods, about her nomadic tropical life, cross cultural celebrations and the moment she decided to make Bali her home.
Bali is such a beautiful island that holds a strong sense of culture that has attracted so many people from around the world. What drew you to Bali and called you to make this your home? I came to Bali four years ago, initially to find a manufacturer for the swimsuit label that I had started then in London. The main idea behind designing swimsuits was my attraction to tropical living but I had no plan to relocate here when I organised that trip. The very first day after my arrival I found myself sitting at a cafe, overlooking the rice fields and feeling very clearly in my heart and my mind: « this is where I want to live ». I had in a matter of minutes simply fallen in love with Bali, which had never happened to me before, I knew that it was right, that I had to stay.
Tell us about your heritage and your cultural journey through life? I was born in Madagascar but grew up in Paris, where my parents moved when I was two years old. Coming from a very modest background, they saw this as a great opportunity to give us opportunity for education, career and life growth. These were limited in Madagascar and that they didn’t have while growing up. They particularly pushed me and my sisters to excel at school, and fully integrate with our new life and environment, while doing their best to preserve our own culture. The Malagasy culture is very similar to the Indonesian or I would say broadly, the Asian & African culture, in the sense that there is a strong respect for elders and ancestors, emphasis on modesty and sharing activities with the family unit. All of which are great traits but often clashed with Western views that tend to champion the individual and individual activities. A lot of leisure activities were spent with my family and I thought I had less freedom than my peers. On another level, it was hard to explain to my friends certain rites and customs that were followed in my culture, as they were considered pagan. France at that time was not greatly open minded about what integration meant, and often demanded to leave behind one’s culture completely. Growing up I had to make do with going back and forth between both worlds, it was hard to understand sometimes who I was and what my place was. Reflecting on it much later I saw all the richness in experiences and learnings that this duality has brought me. I credit this for making me highly adaptable in a great variety of environments and cultures. I learned to simply take the best of both.
In your opinion what is the most powerful virtue that brings people together from across the world?
What inspires you on a daily basis? My journey... and the daily efforts that I make to live as consciously and gratefully as possible. I now have an understanding of my relationship to the world, my life purpose, what I am capable of achieving and the limiting beliefs I want to work on. It is fascinating to be both an observer as well as in charge, and see how my awareness or sometimes the lack of, shapes my journey, the experiences and people I consequently bring into my life.
Having worked with so many beautiful sustainable & conscious brands , tell us which are some of your favourites? More than the brands themselves, I am really inspired by artisans and designers reinvestigating traditional workmanship. Whatever their field, whether it’s textile design, ceramics, wood/stone carving, cosmetics, jewellery, art, or food. I like brands with passion, taking the time needed to produce something of real value and quality.
3 things you can’t live without? Freedom, love and living in a warm and sunny place close to the ocean.
3 things we should all live without? Limiting beliefs, competing with others & shoes.
What does cultural crossover and borderless celebration mean to you? Joy, sharing, embracing and letting go of fear and judgement to experience all the richness, learnings and wisdom that another culture can gift us.
What is your greatest concern for the world right now? Fear taking over love. Love and Fear I think are the main emotions at the centre of all our life decisions, whether we choose to grow, expand, accept, share and give, or to contract, oppress, deny and limit ourselves and others.
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be? I would change education curriculums around the world. We should all be taught from an early age about the importance of self love, mindfulness, the creative power of our thoughts, the workings of the subconscious mind, energies and vibrations. Learning the tools to make the most of our human experience such as meditation, positive affirmations, or visualisation are much more important than competing for grades.
Anything you would like to share with us? I would love to share with you the writings that have made such a positive change in my life: Wayne Dyer’s interpretation of the Tao Te Ching in « Change your thoughts change your life », Louise Hay’s Power thoughts and affirmations, « The Untethered Soul » by Michael A. Singer, Robert Kiyosaki’s « Rich dad poor dad ». And I hope you enjoy the ride!