Salty Talks With Shelby Matias : Owning up to your potential, taking control and making your own rules


Shelby and I randomly met in Bali a few years ago. While I like to say it was a chance encounter, in Bali, everything happens for a reason. I got talking to a girl who had a story. Someone who, at first, gave the impression of being strong, assertive and bold. The kind of girl who made the jump from a comfortable California life to a small island in Indonesia in one sandy footstep, without so much as a second guess. But in the same way her jewellery involves recycling broken sea glass, Shelby has many lives. Business owner, veterinary student, free spirit, beach bum. And so much more.

After some salty conversations, Shelby opened up to have, just like her jewellery, softened edges. A collection designed for the ultimate wanderer, Rumah evokes a beautiful philosophy of life. One of kindness, compassion, and exploring potential way beyond the boundaries we women set for ourselves.

Raw, intuitive, real. Bullshit free.

This salty talk is long overdue, and I’m so glad to share it with you.

The Latest.png

What made you take the leap and move to Bali to start your own business? A lot of the time people have a fear of starting something new, in a new country, with nothing or no one. There was obviously something calling you back to the island after your first visit, what was that final “I’m doing it” moment?

I had gotten sick back in California, and the doctors didn’t know why. In retrospect, I think it was stress. I knew that I wasn’t living my full potential, and that eventually caused me to stress myself sick. After 6 months of doctor appointments and Xanax prescriptions, I decided to make a change. Moving to Bali was my way of exploring my potential.

The jewellery was a pipe dream. I had no intention of starting the way that I did. To be quite honest, I moved to Bali with enough in my bank account to last a few months. I was going to explore for a bit and then head to Melbourne. Within a month I had a job, a house and a dog. I fell in love with my life there, and decided to start the business out of pure necessity. I wasn’t ready to leave.

It has taken me a long time to become the woman that I am today, and to be proud of who I am. I want women to know they are not alone in their struggles. Stay raw, yet keep your edges soft. Our world today needs softness. People are a lot like glass. When we are broken, our edges are sharp. We can cut and cause pain. However, if we return to the ocean, and let her tumble us, cleanse us, and bring us back to shore, our edges become a little less sharp. I hope that Rumah inspires women to soften their edges.
— Shelby Matias, Founder, Rumah

Is there a story behind that sunset/sunrise tattoo?

It’s something I’ve doodled for years. My mom used to draw flowers on my lunch bag, actually the flower I have tattooed on my stomach. That was her signature doodle so I wanted one of my own. I ended up drawing that sunrise/sunset in high school, and it just stuck. I promised my mom no more tattoos so I thought by getting it on my boob she’d never see it. Sorry mom!

What are some of the challenges of starting your own business in Bali?

It is obviously a very different culture and way of life. It was really important to me that I found the right team. I spent three days walking up and down the streets in a small silver village, finding the right silversmiths.

Everything is a negotiation in Bali, even three years later. I pay my team as close to an American wage as I can.

Each piece is handmade with love, and that slows production time. If my silversmith is sick, or has ceremony, production gets put on hold. That makes it hard, but I also think it keeps it authentic.

What are some more positive aspects of living/working in Bali?

Obviously waking up to paradise has its perks. I think one of my favourite parts of Bali is the diversity. You have people from all over the world, in all different stages. Some are super successful businessmen and women. Some are musicians struggling to make it. Some have come with deep emotional issues that they are trying to heal. There are so many amazing people doing amazing things, everyday has the potential to teach you so much.


Describe your creative process, from sourcing the glass to designing the jewellery around it. Who and what inspires you?

When I was living on Bingin Beach, collecting sea glass was a type of therapy for me. Every morning I would wake up and spend an hour or so walking up and down the beach with my dogs collecting glass. It was a way for me to quiet my mind. I would have pockets full of glass that I would then dump on a table. With a cup of Bali coffee in one hand, I would sort each piece into what I thought would be good for rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Not every piece works. Some are too fresh, some are too sharp.

Almost every piece of jewellery I’ve designed over the years is inspired and named after women in my life. The women who have supported me, encouraged me, and loved me.

Let’s talk about animal welfare. You have a deep love for animals, in particular dogs. One of the reasons you moved back to California was to pursue your studies in veterinary medicine, in the hopes of coming back to Bali and opening a sanctuary for mal treated or abandoned dogs. How are you finding this new journey?

This is my favourite topic! Haha! Dogs for me, Bali dogs in particular, are such amazing creatures. They provide such an unconditional, raw, true love. I think everyone should have a dog in his or her life. To be quite honest, it has been a difficult shift. I left a life that I had grown to be quite comfortable in, to come back to California and start school full time. It was almost like a reverse culture shock for me. Not everyday is easy, but I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is exactly what I need to do.

What is your hope for dogs in Bali?

I think the most important thing for dogs in Bali, is education of locals and expats. Sterilising your dogs is so important, and so many people do not understand that. However, once you find 3 week old female puppies in a trash bag thrown in a ditch to be burned or suffocate, you realise just how important it is. STERILISE your animals! And for those who come to Bali and want purebred dogs, you should be ashamed of yourself. Yeah, I said it.

The logo for Rumah is the triangular symbol for all four physical elements. Fire, Air, Water and Earth. It also happens to be one of your very cool tattoos. How do you relate to these symbols and what is their significance to you and the brand?

For me, each of those elements are not only essential to the glass, but to humans as well. In our society today, technology rules us. There is something truly special and healing when we go back to nature and the beautiful things it provides.

Sitting next to a fire and feeling the warmth on my skin on a cold night. Feeling the fresh air as it hits my face. Jumping in the ocean and feeling the water cleanse me. Walking barefoot and feeling the earth beneath me. I need those things, and I want the brand to be a gentle reminder to everyone to get back to those things. The things that truly matter, that make us human.

 You’re a salty soul with a desire to follow your feet and heart to wherever they may take you.  Your jewellery evokes the raw feminine power of intuition and all that comes with being a woman.  What’s your advice for those of us who feel they are destined for something bigger, something greater, yet don’t know where to start? 

Oh girl, just go! As women especially, we are constantly told no. Rumah for me is a reminder that by making my own rules, I am creating my own life. If you can feel that tug on your heart, that feeling of being too big for your current space, you owe it to yourself and the world to explore that. There isn’t a perfect plan, nor is there a template. I have changed my starting point multiple times, but that’s the beauty in taking control.

Follow Shelby’s Adventures Here and shop Rumah

Quick Questions:

 3 Favourite Insta accounts:

I love your account, it makes me want to be sandy and barefoot!

@act4balidogs because well, dogs.

@luvalyssamiller she has such a love for animals and is so beautiful.

Favourite beach in Australia:


Favourite place to Dance in Bali:

Cashew Tree after a few Albens Ciders

Song I am obsessed with at the moment:

Ziggy Alberts on repeat

Next dream destination:

Moreton Island

Never leave home without:

Lip Balm

Go-to Cocktail:

I love champagne, but a spicy margarita when Im feeling feisty

Best advice ever given was:

It isn’t going to happen over night, but one day you’ll look back and realize it was all happening. 

Biggest highlight of my career so far:

Being known as the Sea Glass Girl

1 Surprising Fact about Yourself:

I just found out that I can cook, after 26 years of thinking that I couldn’t.