Meet our creative, intelligent and simply brilliant friends who inspire KITRI in every single way.
This month's #KITRIspotlight is a special one as we meet two best friends and co-founders, Victoria Van Holthe and Tansy Aspinall. Friends since meeting at school at 13, they launched Tada & Toy, one of our favourite demi-fine jewellery brands, almost five years ago. With International Friendship Day at the end of this month, we sat down with them to talk about their friendship, and how they've turned a childhood dream into a successful business.
We'd love to know more how you both met and what led you to starting a brand together...
We were at school together and have both always loved and obsessed over jewellery – from age 13 our dream was to build a jewellery brand together. After attending different universities we came back together to start Tada & Toy, the name comes from our childhood nicknames, a nod to our childhood friendship. We wanted a brand name that was unique and personal but at the same time allowed us to talk about it as a separate entity. The driving idea behind Tada & Toy was to make good quality, playful jewellery that is highly wearable and easily incorporated into everyday life – jewellery as an accessible luxury.
How do your roles differ?
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 and I focus on business development, wholesale collaborations and writing copy for the website, newsletters and social media.
We’re always inspired by women that turn their passion into a successful business. Can you share any advice for other women that are looking to launch their own brand?
Do it! It is the best thing you will ever do and the first years are so exciting and you learn a crazy amount. We were best friends at school, which put us in a good position to start a brand together, but if you are going to have a business partner you need to know each other really well to be strong enough to own a company together.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced since launching your own company?
The market is very competitive and crowded, so we always need to try and keep ahead of the game and stay relevant. Making noise as a small brand is difficult so you have to be creative about ways to get the word out there and spread the message to as many people as possible.
We’re big fans of your jewellery at KITRI HQ! How would you describe your design aesthetic and which pieces are your favourite?
Thank you! We blend fun playful designs with a timeless Scandinavian style, creating affordable, high quality pieces that are perfect for layering. Favourite pieces have to be our Star Hoops stacked with either our Star Cuff or Constellation Cuff – all from our first collection.
Tada & Toy is a brand with a conscience, supporting The Aspinall Foundation, a wildlife conservation charity. How did this come about?
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 foundation protects critically endangered animals both in the UK and around the world. 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 others.
Who inspires you?
Victoria – Our team who are the backbone of Tada & Toy and Tansy, without who I would never be able to do my dream job.
Tansy – Other entrepreneurs we meet who have worked hard, persevered and started their own businesses despite the odds.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
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 could be proud of.
What does your typical day look like?
Victoria – I take my dog Atlas for a walk every morning so he is nice and sleepy for the morning in the office (he sleeps under my desk, usually upside down!) I also love walking down Golborne Road and grabbing a coffee en route to the office. My dream morning would include yoga too, but that doesn’t always happen because it means an even earlier start! We are both in the studio at 9am, where we share the space with our small but growing team.
Tansy – I peel myself out of bed (after several alarm snoozes) and head into the office, always grabbing a coffee en route. My days vary so much depending on the time of the year and what’s going on. It normally involves a mix of speaking to our suppliers, managing wholesale accounts and writing newsletters. Lunch is always at Lowry & Baker on Golborne Road for a salad. Yoga at the Sangye Yoga centre in Kensal Rise is an after work ritual (along with Love Island during the summer months!)
How would you describe your style?
Victoria – On a good day clean and classic. All my favourite items are dresses which are either my grandmothers or my mums, I think there is something in having something from the past that no one else will have. The old-style cut usually suits me, being weirdly tall, this is not always easy.
Tansy – My style definitely changes depending on my mood – I can swing from quite feminine and floaty one day to androgynous the next. At the moment I am loving silky skirts and oversized tops.
Constance Polka Dot Dress, Fiesta Print T-shirt, Dahlia Linen Dress, Winslow Polka Dot Top, Marlow Rust Flare Skirt, Sera Check Pinafore Dress, Roxanne Pink Frill Dress
We love to see you wearing KITRI. Why did you choose these pieces?
Victoria – The cuts are original and fun but at the same time play with classic shapes and colours. I chose the Sera Check Pinafore Dress & Constance Polka Dot Dress for exactly this reason. They are playful and modern but remind me of old movies and classic beauties. The polka dot dress reminds me of Julia Roberts at the polo in Pretty Women which I was always obsessed with.
Tansy – I love how easy the pieces are to wear during the day, making you feel a little bit special every day. The tops I have chosen are so flattering and I love the ruffles. I chose the Fiesta tee because it is the perfect relaxed summer tee that you want to laze around in on a summer day.
Finally, what’s next for Tada & Toy?
Launching monthly drops of new jewellery to keep our collections always fresh and on trend. 5th Birthday celebrations and exciting collaborations!