Sarah Naeem is the owner of The Moon, an independent bookstore and cafe in the heart of Chinatown. The Moon is home to a diverse selection of books. Most of which are written by women and more specifically, women of colour. The intention behind this curation was in response to the historical gender imbalance that is the norm in Anglophone publishing.
Tell us about your life B.T.M (before The Moon), what were you doing and how do the dots connect to now?
Prior to opening The Moon, I did a series of vastly different things. I’ve worked as a gallery curator, graphic designer, and branding consultant. At the time I used to feel flighty for jumping careers but it wasn’t until I started developing my brand that I realised how all my experiences connected and I was able to draw from all of them to find myself here where I am now!
You created The Moon as a space where inclusivity and diversity can take root, specifically by stacking the shelves with works by women and writers of colour. Who are the women in your life who inspire you?
I’ve always found a lot of inspiration and strength in the stories of the women in my family, my mother and grandmothers. They didn’t have the luxury of having as many choices as I do, but still managed to make the best/most of their situations.
You mentioned that The Moon is a space that exists for everyone to come and broaden their horizons, to come in and find something unexpected, whether that’s a conversation, something to eat, or a book at the end of the day. What are some spaces you’ve been to that have broadened your horizons?
This might be an unconventional answer to the question, but I think for me that was a less a place and more of an experience. I experienced my first float in 2014, I went for it to research a project I was working on for uni. I’d always tried to meditate prior to this, but with little luck but going into the float really forced me into that meditative state. That one experience opened up a whole world of mediative exploration for me, and it’s led to me to different parts of the world searching for that intensity of experience.
What’s the biggest misconception that people may have about the work that you do? What is something you learned about starting your own bookstore that you didn’t know before?
So many things! I think I had the silly notion that opening up a bookstore would be all about sitting reading books all day and drinking coffee, chatting with people. While I do that quite a lot, there’s so many things more to it. Finding the right people to work with, and ensuring that the customer experience is consistent all the way round has been really important. Managing supply chains and operations is something I had no prior experience with, and having to learn that through being immersed has been quite challenging.
5 books you think everyone should read?
The Hidden Messages in Water – Masuro Emoto
The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf
Eat Up – Ruby Tandoh
Perfume: The Story of A Murderer – Patrick Süskind
Women Who Run With The Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola Estes
What is a book you read that changed you, and why?
The Hidden Messages in Water – Masuro Emoto. I chanced upon a battered, second hand copy of this book at a stall in Peace Centre several years ago and I recommend it to everyone I meet. It shaped my perspective on being conscious of what I’m consuming, physically and mentally, and the power of what we choose to surround ourselves with.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Being able to live your life consciously and conscientiously so that when it’s over, others can follow.
What is the relationship you have with your clothes? What item of clothing makes you feel most like yourself?
My relationship with my clothes is very mood based. If there’s a certain feeling I want to evoke more of within myself i.e. I want to feel lighter and less weighed down, I’ll wear something made from chiffon that’s breezy and has swing to it. I’m a creature of habit though, and I usually have a few key pieces in my wardrobe that I love wearing and feel confident in. I made a conscious effort a few years ago to stop purchasing new clothes from fast fashion brands and instead get lesser, but better quality pieces. I love Indian fabrics and prints, the workmanship and craft that comes with traditional wear always makes me feel like its a special occasion and my wardrobe is full of items that I’ve brought from home.
Acknowledging that we won’t be on this earth forever, and being conscious of what we want to leave behind.
We are inspired by Sarah’s intention to create a safe space that celebrates the value of diversity and multiculturalism and are proud to have her as Fieldtesters, a group of inspiring individuals that test MATTER products in their everyday journeys of passion, to help us improve durability and design. Sarah is wearing the Side Lunghi + Falcon Olive in size 1.