Insight: Building Tarin Thomas: A New York City-Inspired Fine Jewellery Brand

This week we are joined by Kylie Nakao, Founder of Tarin Thomas, who walks us through the complete journey of building her handmade jewellery brand - from opening up an online retail platform to a flagship store in NYC's West Village. Largely inspired by New York's urban landscape, Tarin Thomas serves as a 'response to the void in accessible, fine jewellery that communicates a clean modern aesthetic'.
Insight: Building Tarin Thomas: A New York City-Inspired Fine Jewellery Brand - DMY BY DMY

Featuring Kylie Nakao (@tarin_thomas) in the Preston (Transparent Beige)

What were you doing before you began working on Tarin Thomas?

I moved to New York City to study Fashion Marketing/Merchandising at Parsons. I was very eager to get as much experience as possible in the fashion industry. I took on as many internships as I could, in PR, couture, styling, etc. My last internship before graduating was for a small business speciality store, where I learned lots of in’s and out’s of running your own business.

Can you walk us through the early journey of Tarin Thomas. How did it all begin?

I always knew I wanted my own business! When I started Tarin Thomas, I was working full-time as the buyer/merchandiser at a small specialty store. Tarin Thomas grew quite quickly, we were able to test the first stackable collection in the store I worked in, and had many wholesale partners right from the start. I worked with my brother to create our initial website which opened up our online retail platform. Fun fact, Tarin is my middle name and Thomas is my brother's middle name, and my Mom put the two together as we were walking the streets of NYC and Tarin Thomas was born. 

Why jewellery?

Who doesn’t love jewelry? There is something special about jewelry having a forever feeling. Being able to design pieces that originally were created out of my own desires and the ability to adorn others with signature pieces that can last a lifetime.

What sparked your interest in design? When and how did you learn to design?

I have a very non-traditional way of conceptualizing and designing. My background is not jewelry design, so I work very closely with my factories to bring my sketches/designs to life. I am typically inspired by a gemstone or a shape. This is where the design concept usually begins...

How did you go about creating your first ‘Stackable Collection’?

I was looking for stackable rings for myself and couldn’t find anything that felt quite right. I had a very specific idea of the rings I wanted, so figured why not make them myself.

What inspires the nature of Tarin Thomas?

The city that I call home, New York City, inspires me the most! Since my very first visit I knew I wanted to live in NYC. You have everything at your finger tips, all kinds of neighborhoods to explore, some of the best restaurants, great street style, eye catching architecture, art galleries scattered throughout your walks, what’s not to love.

What’s been your favourite collection to date?

It’s hard to pick just one, I really do have love for all of our collections. I currently have a huge attraction to the color green, so our newest launched collection is my current favorite. It’s called the ‘Lucky You’ Collection featuring a malachite and white mother of pearl checkered stone designed in various pieces.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Rise and shine with my favorite playlist that I play over and over and over and sip on a Genmai-cha! I always go straight to my emails and do a quick scan and then off to a boxing class to get the day started. I typically spend the day between my studio, our store in the West Village and visiting suppliers and our factories. I love to end the day meeting up with friends, enjoying a great NYC meal and relaxing martini. 

What are the biggest challenges that you’ve faced on your journey so far?

I get excited with every challenge that presents itself as it pushes me to grow and evolve (some are a little harder than others haha). One of the biggest challenges is time. 

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start their own business?

Get ready for the ride of your life! Be prepared for hard work, ups and downs and a very rewarding experience. Don’t forget networking is everything!


Kylie's Round of Speed Dating with DMY

1. What is your go-to drink?
Currently a Filthy Dirty Martini.

2. What was the last thing you Googled?
How do baroque pearls get their shape (new collection hint).

3. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I already live here! New York City, always and forever.

4. What is your favourite TV show?
Anything cooking related with a side of Euphoria.

5. What would be your ideal date?
Trip to Paris, so I could eat all the baguettes and drink all the wine.

6. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Vintage shopping and carbs haha.

7. What’s the best and worst purchase you’ve ever made?
Best: An antique diamond ring from 1940’s.
Worst: A pair of patent 9” Christian Louboutin's when I was 14 that I couldn’t live without and destroyed in one night.

8. What was your first concert?
Celine Dion, Titanic era haha.

9. Make a party playlist with only 3 songs:
Post Malone 'Psycho'
Tracy Chapman 'Give Me One Reason'
Rihanna 'Sex With Me'
I get obsessed with songs and listen to them over and over and over