Retail therapy: ‘Experiential retail store,’ tea and tonic lounge opens in downtown Ashland

The Haven owners Sanandaji and Shekinah Ma pose for a photo during a grand opening celebration Friday, Aug. 19. What were formerly dressing rooms, at right, are now meditation spaces. Ashland.news photo by Holly Dillemuth
August 25, 2022

‘The Haven’ at former Earthly Goods location aims to bring peaceful retail, community

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

The owners of a new experiential retail store say they aim to bring a little bit of peace, mindfulness, heartfulness and a little “slice of heaven” to downtown Ashland — mixing in some extraordinary and magical elements, while providing a new community gathering space for events and classes.

The Haven, which sells items from all over the world, including crystals, fine jewelry and clothing, now fills a 10,000-square-foot storefront and will soon offer a ceremonial tea and tonic lounge. It opened its doors to about 500 people last Friday, Aug. 19, filling a prominent vacant storefront at 142 E. Main St. that for many years housed Earthly Goods, a retail and online store selling shoes, clothing, and accessories. The new operators, Ashland yogis and entrepreneurs who go by the names Shekinah Ma, which means “The Visible majesty of the Divine Presence,” and Sanandaji, started leasing the building in April as they prepared for the opening.

Sanandaji looks on as Shekinah Ma gestures while talking about The Haven during a grand opening celebration Friday, Aug. 19. Ashland.news photo by Holly Dillemuth

Shekinah Ma (she/her) and Sanandaji (he/him), say they have drawn inspiration from their journeys to dozens of countries around the world, especially countries such as Egypt, where they married in December 2017, along with India and the Mediterranean. The pair collected an array of items from their travels reflecting their connections with artisans from around the world amid their pursuit of inner peace and harmony. 

“We really want to bring joy and hope and inspiration,” Shekinah Ma toldAshland.news at the grand opening on Friday.

Dressed in gold and white, she, along with Sanandaji, said the colors reference the theme of divinity, a theme also reflected in the decor inside the retail space.

Sanandaji emphasized the use of the word “divine” for them doesn’t reference a specific god or religion, but he believes the meaning to be “to shine; to shine your heart,” he said. “To shine your joy.”

People wait outside during a grand opening celebration Friday at The Haven. Ashland.news photo by Holly Dillemuth

“It’s to reflect the beauty in each and every one of you,” he said. 

“Everyone has that ….” he started to say.

She finished his sentence: “Golden heart.”

Around that moment, the couple were spotted by an excited attendee to the grand opening, and Shekinah Ma immediately welcomed her over.

“I just wanted to meet you — what a blessing!” the woman said, beaming as she thanked them for opening the new space.

“Our intention is to give back to the Ashland community and the Rogue Valley community,” Senandanji said. 

The couple wants to provide a retail space that is welcoming to other businesses as well, and the couple would like to hear from charitable organizations in need.

“We want to have an outreach, to co-create together,” he said. “Our intention in the near future is to support local charities as well.”

A videographer shoots a front window display at the former Earthly Goods location during a grand opening celebration for the site’s new occupant, The Haven. Ashland.news photo by Holly Dillemuth

The pair moved to Ashland nearly two years ago on the exact day of the Almeda Fire: Sept. 8, 2020. 

“We feel like Ashland is very enchanting,” Sanandaji said. 

“Yes, and there’s a story that goes with all of this,” Shekinah Ma added. “Ashland found us.”

The couple were passing through Ashland and stopped at Lithia Park, when individuals they passed told them they were both “enchanting.”

The couple looked at each other and said, “that’s exactly what Ashland is.”

So the pair decided to make the city their home and to eventually pursue opening the retail store.

“We feel life is such a precious gift and so when you experience life through the eyes of wonderment and through the eyes of a child, everything becomes something new,” he said.

A guest takes a closer look at rock crystals during a grand opening celebration Friday, Aug. 19. Ashland.news photo by Holly Dillemuth

The Haven leases the space, which county property records show is owned by Allen Connolly, where it sells crystals and crystal candles, cathedral geodes, fine jewelry, sacred art, whole food supplements, and clothing from all over the world. The store employs seven people, including a store manager, and hopes to be a community gathering space.

Dressing rooms on the first floor of the space have been converted to meditation pods where artwork has the potential to “open their heart” and “activate their senses.” 

“To give anyone that we have the honor to receive through the doors a little opportunity to experience a little bit of peace, a little bit of mindfulness, a little bit of heartfulness, and something completely different from one’s normal life,” Sanandaji said.

“The vision was to bring something that was beautiful and elegant and everyone could receive something uniquely for themself. To bring a little bit of heaven on Earth, a slice of Heaven on Earth.”

The Haven will offer a “tea and tonic” lounge to members, and with servings offered mindfully and ceremonially.

People mingle inside the new The Haven story. Ashland.news photo by Holly Dillemuth

“It’s about doing everything with mindfulness so you can really be very present with life,” he said. “Tea is a very sacred ceremonial plant that has been used for thousands and thousands of years.”

The second phase of the store, to open upstairs, will be called The Alchemy Alcove, and will cater to private parties where groups can create their own fragrances, “healing potions” and  essential oils. 

“We just wanted to bring in things that touched our lives, the things that we felt were so meaningful,” he said.

“We want people to expand their heart and really be able to feel themselves again,” said Shekinah Ma. “We feel people are so numb in this world on so many levels.”

The couple hopes to provide a space where individuals can reconnect with peace and love within themselves, and could potentially consider other avenues.

In response to an inquiry about the possibility of psilocybin treatment at the facility after it becomes legal in 2023, the couple’s public relations spokesperson Mia O’Brien forwarded the following message from them: “Not at this time. However, with enough education and research, and legalization, if the findings are conclusively positive, we would be open to learning more.  Anything that we feel can help people progress with ease and grace, is a beautiful thing if all parameters are met appropriately.”

The Haven owners Sanandaji and Shekinah Ma pose for a photo during a grand opening celebration Friday, Aug. 19. Ashland.news photo by Holly Dillemuth
Other enterprises

The Haven is operated by a corporation known as The Haven by TwinRay, which until Monday had a mailing address on Butler Creek Road, according to Oregon state records, which has now been changed to the store location.

The Butler Creek property is listed as home to TwinRay Illuminations, a nonprofit organization, which purchased the 96.3-acre property formerly known as The Circle of Teran Ranch for $2.6 million on Sept. 9, 2020, from Neuman Properties, owners of Ashland Springs Hotel and other lodgings, and a minority partner, Glenda Sue Galpin, according to county property records. 

County records also show an application submitted by TwinRay Illuminations for a six-bedroom bed and breakfast was tentatively denied by the county Planning Department.

State records show the names of the president and secretary of Twinray Illuminations as Akasha Sananda and Miananda Shekinah, respectively.

Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news. Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling contributed to this story. Email him at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.
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