Charmed, We’re Sure
The young designers behind UK-based, cool-girl jewelry brand Tada & Toy love animals as much as we do. Our bracelet collaboration is a tribute to Africa’s most endangered species—and the prettiest way to add some sparkle to your day.
Founders Tansy Aspinall and Victoria van Holthe
Tansy Aspinall and Victoria Van Holthe met at age 13 on the first day of secondary school and right away started dreaming of creating a jewelry brand together. Although they attended different colleges, the friends got together soon after graduation to realize their dream. Tada & Toy, the name of their collection, were their childhood nicknames, a nod to their lifelong friendship. Today their pieces can be seen adorning London It Girls such as Emma Watson, Poppy Delevigne, and Georgia May Jagger, and we were thrilled to collaborate with them on our animal charm bracelets, which support the six African charity partners behind our Vanishing Species Collection. They wrote to us from their office in Notting Hill, London on the eve of the debut of our jewelry collaboration.
How did you focus your ambitions and actually get started?
The driving idea behind Tada & Toy was to make quality, playful jewelry that is highly wearable and easily incorporated into everyday life—jewelry as accessible luxury; we call it “demi-fine.” All of our artisans have been sourced through our third business partner and production guru, Shubhi Kumar. She has been making jewelry in India for a long time and knew all the best people to work with. All of our workshops are family run and Indian owned.
What are your different roles in the company?
Victoria: Having studied painting at art school, I head up a lot of the creative side. Although the design process is completely collaborative, there are a lot of other creative elements that go into the brand, from the imagery on our Instagram to the emails we send out to customers.
Tansy: My role is less visual than Victoria’s. I focus on business development, wholesale collaborations, and writing copy for the website, newsletters and social media.
Did you get any memorable advice when you were starting out?
Before we launched, a successful friend told us that first impressions are everything. This meant we took longer to launch, but when we did, everything from our product to packaging was something that we felt proud of.
Your mix-and match-earrings have become your calling card. Why did you decide to bling out the ear rather than focus on other parts of the body? What trends are you seeing these days?
We wanted to differentiate ourselves from other jewelry brands, and earrings tend to be at a price point where you can buy a lot of different pieces. But the ear is a playful area where women can personalize their look and assert some independence at work, where dress codes might be limiting. The trend we are seeing right now is towards multiple ear piercings, both on the lobe and in the inner ear. Next month we are launching a collection designed to be worn in these unusual piercings.
But it’s not all earrings. We also do fine jewelry for the rest of the body, including engagement rings. The charm bracelets for Chantecaille are inspired by bracelets that were in our first collection.
Tell us about our charm bracelets. How were they made?
We always start by sketching designs here in London. Because Chantecaille had a pretty strong idea of what it wanted, we looked at the outstanding characteristics of each animal and then paired them with semi-precious colored stones like agate, onyx, and amethyst.
We visit our workshops in India a couple of times a year. Shubhi has built relationships with these craftspeople over a long time. When we’re there we’ll sit with them and work out the designs on the materials. There are roomfuls of beautiful, colored beads you can run your hand through—Jaipur is the stone-cutting center of the world. The silver charms with the 18K gold-vermeil finish are also made here.
"Before we launched, a successful friend told us that first impressions are everything."
Tansy, your grandfather is noted conservationist Damian Aspinall. Can you tell us about Tada & Toy's relationship to the Aspinall Foundation and what projects your donations (5% of profits) support?
Tansy: Both of us have always loved animals and wanted this to be reflected in our brand identity. My grandfather started the foundation in the 80’s and I grew up surrounded by animals in a wildlife park in Kent. The Aspinall foundation protects critically endangered animals both in the UK and around the world. The foundation believes that animals deserve to live in their natural environments, free from persecution by humans—from hunting, trapping and loss of their habitat. Where possible, these animals are re-introduced to the wild, into their natural habitat. So far, we have successfully sent back Western lowland gorillas, black rhino and Javan langur, among many other critically endangered species.
So nature is a big source of inspiration to you?
Definitely. This month we are coming out with a collection inspired by the sea—black pearls, shells, and crustaceans—and later in the year we’ll shift to a focus on the night sky. Nature is definitely our port of call.