These women ditched designer bags for life experiences… and you’re gonna want to do the same

Haven't we all drooled over a designer bag at some point? Agonized over the hefty price tag, had many an internal argument and then finally surrendered to its charms. But is it really worth it? We spoke to three women who swapped their love of material things for life experiences instead. This is what they had to say...
These women ditched designer bags for life experiences… and you’re gonna want to do the same
Photo: The Coveteur

As the Regional Events Manager for Bloomberg LP, Shayanne Salama's life once rotated around monthly business trips, going on holiday four times a year, and getting her nails done every week like clockwork. But in December 2016, everything changed.

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"I never realised what my potential was," Shayanne tells Grazia. "I thought it was making a salary and then going and buying things. But after having my son, there was an abrupt shift. All of a sudden, I wanted and needed less. I started reducing the things I own and putting my designer bags at the back of my closet or giving them away because I felt they didn’t represent who I was anymore,” she says. “Before, my fulfillment had come from external things, but it was starting to come more from within myself. Imagine if everyone could tap into that healing. There would be less anxiety, more faith and more happiness.”

Shayanne, now a Holistic Guide, performs a combination of meditation, Reiki and hypnotherapy for her clients. She says that guiding people to heal themselves is more satisfying than anything she has ever bought in her life.

Melissa Ghattas went through a similar journey, having lived a jet-set existence as an Emirates flight attendant from 2003 to 2010. She explains how she used to spend money with no regard to the value of her time spent earning it; “I would shop to fill a void in my soul, to fill what was missing in my life - purpose,” she said. Melissa initially practiced yoga for the physical benefits, but over time she found that she felt more alive and found little gratification spending money on material things that did not feed her soul.

“Yoga becomes a way of being. It is a natural progression to live more consciously, to be more aware of your decisions and your impact on the environment,” she explains. “I appreciate and value the money I earn when I purchase something that is made with a conscious mind. I also have come to learn through my practice that while there is temporary happiness in a new bag, or a new shoe, true happiness is within.”

Egyptian-Moroccan jewellery designer Hana El Awadi is also the Co-founder of El Horeya Designs for Freedom, an Egyptian retail brand. When the Egyptian pound crashed in 2016, Hana saw friends panic about the sudden jump in prices for schools, healthcare, travel… and fashion. “People were used to travelling abroad to shop. They didn’t realise they had really cool things coming out of Egypt,” Hana explains.

As a riposte, she created a post on Instagram showcasing her favourite local designer and hashtagging it #hanagoeslocal; the catalyst for the platform of the same name that she now oversees. “We’re giving homegrown artists a platform to share their talents globally and changing people’s ideas so they realise it’s cool to wear local,” she says.

Working with local designers also changed her shopping habits. “I hardly ever wear anything that isn’t locally made anymore. Every piece has a story behind it. And I love that,” she adds.

We couldn't agree more - and with 'experience economy' - the act of buying experiences - on the rise, it looks like perceptions everywhere are changing.

  • To book a session with Shayanne, call: +971 502 476 881. To book a yoga session with Melissa, visit

Photos: Instagram