Natalia Pascual, Nala Malas
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to the creation of Nala Malas?
"I used to be a custom jewelry designer, and went through a very hard time where I didn't think I was good enough to put my jewelry out there, so I became really scared. So I decided to go back to my old job in fashion. I was miserable. I ended up staying there for a whole year, left all my dreams to the side because of a fear of doing what I actually wanted to do.
I got really bad acne and was really unhealthy during this time. I knew that there was something wrong. I went to a dermatologist and he gave me a really strong drug, and I was miserable, even more miserable than before. I decided to go to a holistic doctor because that drug was making me sick. He prescribed me this whole raw diet to clean my system and gave me a lot of probiotics and all this stuff that I've never taken before. He told me 'You need to relax. Your nervous system needs to relax,' and that I needed to practice yoga. I was like, 'Okay. I can do that. I've done that before. Downward dog. I get it.'
Even though I didn't know too much about a holistic lifestyle, I just knew in my heart that that's how I would want to treat this. I started practicing a lot of yoga and got really into it, and it all just clicked. Suddenly I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm going to become a yoga teacher. This is what I want to do.'
When I graduated from my first yoga teacher training, we were supposed to give our teachers gifts. My class and I had this idea of making them custom mala beads for each teacher. They came out wonderfully, and everybody was like, 'Oh my god! These are so amazing!' I thought, 'Okay. I can create something with this,' but never in my mind did I think that I was going to build a line and a brand out of it.
I ended up doing three yoga teacher trainings and once I got to teach I was like, 'Wait, this is not what I want to do...' At the same time, my friends started asking me to make them malas. I was working part-time at at a store. It was great income, and allowed me to do my yoga stuff on the side and pay for all of it, which is not cheap, and I started making malas at the same time. As more and more people were requesting malas, I realized that I was at a point that I could live off of this thing that I was building, and I decided to take a leap of faith.
I started Nala Malas, and it has grown to be what it is today. In the beginning, it was very focused on meditation and using malas for that purpose, but always with a jewelry aesthetic. As I evolved, I really connected with my creativity and my love for style and fashion. I wanted to focus more on being a jewelry brand, but just with the touch of mala beads. They are still mala beads and some of them you can actually meditate with, being as that they have the certain amount of beads that you need, but it's more about the look and how you wear them.
I'm so happy to be where I am. I feel like the vision that I've always had was where this journey has taken me to: to build a jewelry brand that has a meaning behind it. It's not a bunch of jewelry just thrown together.
Mantras and malas have always been part of my life. I've always loved that ritual of sitting with malas and keeping your mind focused on a mantra. I think it's so much harder for you to sit there and be like, 'What do I do?', especially in the beginning. Malas are great tools to introduce you to meditation. Incantations, mantras - you're changing the whole chemistry of your body when you're using them. I truly believe that, and I know it works because it worked for me. "