Kylie Nakao, Designer of Tarin Thomas

Moving from Toronto to New York, Kylie Nakao designer of Tarin Thomas shares the creative process for the unique vintage designs, industrial details, and street style combined into each piece of jewelry. Kylie blends contrasting themes which make Tarin Thomas so distinctive.

Q: How did you decide to become a jewelry designer?

A: I knew that I always wanted to have a business of mine own, but I never imagined that it would be in the jewelry industry! My first job after graduating Parsons The New School was as VP of Merchandising for a small boutique in New York City. I started out as a buying, merchandising, managing e-commerce, social media content creation and much more. During my time as a VP of Merchandising, we noticed that jewelry was a very strong selling category for us but there was a space in the market for quality but accessible precious and semi-precious jewelry. After plenty of research, I began creating and wearing my own unique pieces, which eventually transformed into my brand, Tarin Thomas. All of our pieces are handmade in New York City and really explore the contrast between masculine and feminine, delicate and bold, modern and traditional, which is what I think makes it so distinctive.

Q: Your jewelry is simple and sophisticated, what is your process in creating each piece?

A: Our design process typically starts by sourcing gemstones in all different shapes, sizes and colors. From there, we use each gemstone as inspiration for a unique design. Many of the pieces come from what I personally want to wear. Our untraditional design process allows for Tarin Thomas to have both unique and sophisticated pieces. We work very closely with our factory in New York City and are involved in each area of the process.

Q: What are you currently working on and what do you have in plan for the future?

to be an evolutionary brand, as it adapts while also sticking to our focus on stone/metal combinations. After showing our new styles these past few days at CAPSULE New York, we’re super excited to release some new pieces. These pieces take a break from our more dainty side, but they’re still simple and able to make a statement. We’re still working with clean lines and interesting stone/metal Tarin ThomasA: We’re always trying to be as innovative as possible, particularly with allowing our new pieces to be an extension of our prior collection. I want combinations but have created bolder pieces. For the future, only time will tell.

Q: Do you find there is a shift in styles from Toronto where you grew up to New York?

A: New York is more fashion forward, I feel like Toronto is a baby version of New York City. New York sets the trends, while Toronto picks up on them. Toronto is definitely starting to develop its own sense of style as the city grows, not only in fashion but food, music, etc.

Q: What is the meaning behind “Tarin Thomas”

Tarin is my middle name, Thomas is brother’s middle name. Funny enough, Tarin is my parents name put together (Tom + Karen).

Q: What materials and techniques do you enjoy working with?

A: We like to put a twist on classic and traditional methods of jewelry making. For example, we may use a traditional band but with a less traditional setting. We find it exciting to work with so many different types and cuts of gemstones and metal combinations. Our inspiration comes from everywhere, whether it’s vintage design, industrial details, street style, we are inspiration by all elements of our daily lives! Our main focus, though, is to always add our own TT character to each piece.

Q: How do you start a new collection, do you delve in right away or does it take you a bit to get into the next piece?

Typically, we work best under pressure. Design will come to me under pressure, and then I begin sketching.

Q: What piece of jewelry could you not live without?

A: I can’t say a specific piece of jewelry, but I can never leave the house without having a TT choker on.

Q: What is your advice for someone starting out in this industry?

A: My advice is to do your research. Test everything out, from manufacturing to suppliers, before you really get into it. Testing your resources is extremely important, and don’t give up! Work your ass off, because you are in charge of your future. Have a glass of wine, because you deserve it! Networking and connections are a major!