unnamedShauna Mei is not an easy person to catch up with. As founder and CEO of AHAlife, a curated artisan marketplace company, the 32-year-old’s extensive travels in search of the talent and designs that will inspire the masses (mostly affluent) to purchase nonstop. The goal? To help local artisans who might otherwise flounder earn a liveable salary and impact on a global scale.

Founded only five years ago, the company is now worth more than $40 million, a number she plans to more than triple in the next five years. And with the recent announcement of AHAlife’s publicly traded listing on the Australian Securities Exchange, she’ll be traveling even more.  

It’s Mei’s undeniable intelligence and drive that makes the MIT and Goldman Sachs alum a role model for many women and someone who truly runs shit.

How I Run Shit:

“I run my business based on impact. [I ask myself] how can I not only impact the lives of our artisans/designers, but the lives of the consumer as well. AHAlife comes from my belief in preserving creativity and artistry while at the same time applying business strategy so that our designers & artisans can make a decent living off of their work. Focusing on business expansion to take on more artists and designers and reach a broader and diverse audience allows the site to become a major player in the marketplace arena that’s built to scale, a kind of “Amazon” for high quality luxury designers & artisans.”

I’m Changing The Game By:

“Knowing my strengths and playing them well. Plus, bringing a strategic and logical mindset to the artisan marketplace. I also challenge everything—conventions, norms and even the people I work with. Artisans are creating things that don’t always translate commercially, so I leverage my expertise to bring that business and left-brain perspective that creatives may not always have.  I am extremely passionate about creating a scalable business model that helps independent artisans thrive…but the customer always comes first and we see AHAlife as that translation and distribution engine.”

My “Aha” Moment Was:

“When I lived in Sweden, moving my stuff from America was difficult and made me wonder why exactly I had so much that I didn’t use, need, or even know why I bought it in the first place! During the wintertime, Sweden is a very rainy and gloomy place, so I was looking to my things to cheer me up, and none of them could.

I then began to really reflect about how much women impact the world and environment in terms of what we consume. American women own 70 to 80 percent of consumption power and a lot of times we make purchases that we aren’t conscious about. We don’t know where it came from, who made it, or why we’re even buying it. I then made the decision that I’m not buying anything that isn’t consciously contributing to my happiness. So I donated everything I had that served no literal purpose in my life and made a vow to only buy things that do.  The result was extremely refreshing and cleansing.”

How We Can Become Conscious Consumers:

“Educate yourself on where the products you buy come from. In other words, think to yourself: Who made it, why am I buying it, and how does this impact my life or the life of another? Is this item going to bring me true happiness or purpose? Is my purchase of this item going to fund individuals with purpose (and not just big corporations)?  

I say if you can’t answer all of these questions, then you need to re-evaluate your reasoning behind your buying. A lot of times we buy material things in an effort to stay relevant and trendy and don’t realize that in doing so we aren’t appreciating the artisan and designer who creates.”

My Life (Thus Far), In 2 Words:i-Hq4zJjH-XL

“Love and momentum. I’m surrounded by friends and family who encourage me on a daily basis. I just married by very best friend and business partner Sachin Devand in an incredible week-long Indian wedding in Jaiur, Rajasthan.  We are so blessed to be able to build this dream together.  I also fueled by momentum to keep going, keep inspiring, keep creating, keep building, keep expanding my business, keep living.”

How to Combine Passion and Purpose:

“You need to know and fully understand your strengths. Your passion is what you like to do, but strength allows you to really excel. It’s an amazing thing when people can align their passions with their purpose. Often people put their passion to work to focus on the destination of goals (the money, the fame, the high level of success), but that’s not the way to find your purpose.”

I Challenge Women To Keep Going By:

“Finding one particular thing where you have the audacity to believe that you are the single best person on earth at. Don’t be a generalist. Be world class.”


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Back Talk with Shauna Mei

Started as a…Barista at Starbucks Coffee.

Day job…Building a super highway for designers and artisans from all over the world to sell their products on AHAlife.com.

Defining professional experience…The day I finished raising $3M of seed capital to launch AHAlife.

Aha moment…the first time I met Deepak Chopra after reading his books for years.

Most challenging life experience…Moving to America when I was seven years old by myself.

A lesson your mentor taught youJohn Mack advised me to focus and do one or two things really well, don’t stretch yourself too thin.

Must have accessory…my iPhone 6.

Currently living in…in post-wedding glory with Indian inspired goddess dresses and kurtas.   

Cocktail (10 of 45)

If I had $1 million I would buy…a raw warehouse in Brooklyn. 

If I had $10 million I would…reinvest it into my business AHAlife.

If I had $100 million…I would donate to build more schools for children around the world.

Saturday at 9:30 AM, I am likely to…be watching an old episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

I unwind by…enjoying a nice cup of cold dry sake. 

Favorite restaurant1 OR 8 in Williamsburg.

My next vacation…Just came back from Maldives, would go back again. 

dtmd_home_hero_infinity-pool-evening

Social Media Platform or App you can’t live without…The AHA gift app; it’s the perfect gifting app and we created it because it solves a real problem for me.

Right now, I am…Opening an AHAlife concept store in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

I feel most empowered when…I am dancing to amazing music with all amazing friends.