Shiva Safai is set to marry into what must be the millennials most fêted fashion dynasty. Engaged to Palestinian luxury real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, the father of models Gigi and Bella Hadid, Shiva is poised to take up the mantle as matriarch of the legendary 48,000-square-foot House of Hadid, the sprawling 2.2-acre family estate in Bel Air.
Born in Iran and raised in Norway, Shiva moved to Los Angeles at 19 and for a decade she ran her own successful criminal background check business. She met Mohamed at Il Pastaio restaurant in Beverly Hills and the couple became engaged, before now starring together on E!’s hit series Second Wives Club.
We chat with the self-made businesswoman who has travelled the world cultivating her passion for exquisite fashion and décor in places like Paris, Greece, Egypt, and recently Lebanon for her Christmas holidays. Shiva shares with us an insight into her lavish lifestyle of style and elegance, alongside her passion for children’s foundations, especially including her active involvement with the Iranian MAHAK Charity which was founded 20 years ago as an international society for children with cancer.
Can you share with us a typical day in the life of Shiva Safai?
Every day varies for me. I can have a photoshoot one day, or I could be running errands and managing the household, or a day spent lunching with friends and family.
What inspires you?
Life! I have a lot of passion for life, to wake up with a purpose and to do better than the day before.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would say I have a classic style, I like the timeless look. I live in jeans and t shirts on a daily basis.
What is one item that you can’t leave the house without?
What is your definition of beauty?
Confidence. It comes from within.
Who is your beauty icon?
I love and have always been inspired by Sophia Loren, Jackie O, and Grace Kelly.
How do you feel the concept of beauty can affect confidence, and open doors for empowerment?
Being confident and accepting of your own flaws, to be able to embrace them rather than cover them, is what true beauty is in my opinion. That’s what makes everyone unique in their own way.
Can you talk us through your daily skincare and nutrition routine?
I have learned simplicity is the best thing when it comes to skincare. Less is more. I wash my face in the morning, put on sunblock and eye cream and that’s it. At night I do the same, wash my face, do a peel, and add retinol or lactic acid, and an eye cream. That’s pretty much it, and I eat anything I want, but moderation is the key, I don’t overdo it.
What is your secret top tip for great skin and wellbeing?
Protect with SPF, and exfoliate with retinol and lactic acid.
What is your best piece of beauty advice that you can share with us?
Truly I can’t say enough to use sun block every day! You will thank me later!
What are your must-have beauty products?
I love my retinol cream by Shani Darden, which is gentle to use every day, yet effective at the same time. I also can’t live without my eyebrow pencil by Anastasia Beverly Hills.
Living in Los Angeles, how do you find the cultural differences between there and the Middle East?
The beauty of Los Angeles is that there are a lot of Middle Eastern influences. I love that about LA, as it takes me back to my roots.
Do you appreciate the differences in the fashion styles too, and how do you tailor your personal style for the different regions?
Wherever I travel in the world, I always find the individual fashion styles very inspiring and fascinating. I love how I can add more glitz and glam to my wardrobe when I travel to the Middle East, as the women there are always super polished and fabulous.
What do you admire most in Arab women?
The Arab women exude confidence, which I find truly amazing.
You have recently holidayed in Lebanon, can you share with us why you chose this as a destination for your vacation?
I have always wanted to visit Lebanon, because it also reminds me of my home country. I have to say it has been one of the best and most memorable trips of my life so far.
What do you like most about the city, and where are your favourite spots?
Beirut has this amazing sense of the old world and new. I loved driving around, seeing beautiful ruins next to modern luxury buildings. The sound of the call for prayer was very nostalgic, and definitely reminded me of my childhood in Tehran. I visited so many beautiful restaurants and met many beautiful people. Some of the best fashion designers are from Lebanon, and I had the pleasure of meeting a few of them.
You have been a successful businesswoman since a young age. Tell us more about your career?
I opened up my own criminal background check business at the age of 21. I worked very hard to keep that company running successfully for almost a decade.
How would you define success?
I believe with hard work, persistence, and determination, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
What do you feel are the qualifications that a woman needs to be successful in business?
Know your own worth, be confident, patient and know you can do anything. You should set goals in life and work towards achieving them.
Do you feel that women are faced with more difficulties due to a lack of equality when working in business?
It is definitely more challenging and harder for women to be racing neck to neck with men in the business world. However, there are many, many amazing female leaders around the world who are inspiring to other women, and I feel that with time women are becoming stronger and more vocal about their positions and equality in the work environment.
Tell us what is key to female empowerment?
Women supporting and inspiring one another, although now even more men are supporting which is a wonderful thing.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career?
Throughout the recent years when I have been in the limelight, the most difficult challenge has been to mute the outside noise and judgments. But, when I had my background check business I had to work hard to show everyone around that I was capable of being a successful business owner.
Which roles in your life do you enjoy the most and gain the most satisfaction from, being a businesswoman, entrepreneur, television star, fiancé, or charity ambassador?
I enjoy most being a daughter, an older sister to my brothers, being Mohamed’s fiancé and being a good friend to people around me. So basically, family and friends are very important to me. I also love using my platform to raise awareness and help in any way that I can for certain causes and charities.
Tell us more about the children’s charity work that you are involved with?
The international society for children with cancer is a MAHAK charity, one that originated in Iran 20 years ago. It’s a charity that funds and helps the needs of children with cancer. It also provides funding for facilities for families to stay while their children are being treated.
With such a busy work schedule, how do you maintain your home and personal life, and what is the perfect balance between work and family?
I think that having the right priorities makes it easier to juggle between work and personal life. You need to make sure that as much as your work needs attention and time, so do your relationships with your loved ones.
Being such a public couple, how do you ensure that your relationship isn’t defined by the world of celebrity and glamour?
Behind closed doors we are just like any other couple. We cook together, and we entertain friends and family. We like to unwind after a crazy day watching TV and talking about each other’s day.
You have just finished the first series of Second Wives Club, what are the biggest challenges that come with being a part of a show like this?
When you decide to be on a reality tv show you need to be open to share your life with the viewers and be open to criticism. I was very comfortable and felt very good about the idea as I wanted the viewers to have a glimpse into our daily life, and how and why our relationship works the way it does. I wanted to show our chemistry and how we are.
Can you share with us the pros and cons of being famous?
The pros are the fact that you can be an inspiration to so many people, to use your platform to raise awareness for certain causes or charities, and to be a good role model. Cons are a bit difficult, but come with being a public figure. People make judgments and criticise without even knowing you or your journey.
Do you ever tire of fame and what to run away from it all?
I can’t say I want to run away from it, however just like any other person we all want our private moments at times, and I still cherish and want that.
Do you have any regrets in life?
No, I don’t have any regrets in life. I am who I am, and where I am today is based on mistakes and decisions I made in the past. Everything happens for a reason and from every mistake a lesson comes out of it.
What is next on your checklist of ambitions and objectives?
I would like to leave a mark on this earth I can be proud of. My ambition is to make a brand with my name, work hard, and make my friends and family proud of the person I have become.
How do you feel the future is looking?
You can never predict the future. All I can hope and pray for is to have faith in God and know that the best is yet to come.