My name is Kylie Nakao and I’m the founder, owner, and designer of Tarin Thomas, a jewelry brand based and handmade in New York City. I was previously a buyer, but soon started creating my own pieces and in 2013, Tarin Thomas was born! Our jewelry really explores the contrast between masculine and feminine, delicate and bold, modern and traditional, which is what I think makes it so unique.
While I knew I wanted to be in the fashion and creative industry, I didn’t know specifically that it was going to be jewelry. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to be my own boss. After finishing my Bachelors of Communications in Canada, I decided to move to New York to attend Parson’s for Fashion Marketing and Merchandising, located in the heart of a city that could be considered the center of the universe. From there, I became the VP of merchandising at a store, which gave me the incredible opportunity to become a buyer. I learned firsthand how to provide the best quality and options for customers, something that I’ve taken with me today. With Tarin Thomas, I’m still using this same mindset but selling not just to customers, but to buyers as well.
As a buyer, I was able to test my jewelry within a small market. When it did well and people were interested in the pieces I wore myself, it really authenticated me starting my own business. I felt like there was a place in the market for what I was creating. We offer extremely unique stone and metal combinations, as well as gemstone cuts. Everything is handcrafted in New York, offering semi-precious and precious jewelry at an accessible price.
I draw a lot of inspiration from my travels. Within our flat top collection, all of the stones are representative of various earth tones. The collection is inspired by land and sea, so traveling to Australia was a huge inspiration in the sense that it is super lush, there’s so much vegetation, the beaches are beautiful, and the ocean is everywhere. There are just so many different and amazing places to explore. My inspiration comes from everything that surrounds me and things that I interact with on a daily basis, so living in New York City has been a huge part of that.
One major career advantage is that I love what I’m doing. If something is your passion, there’s nothing more amazing than being able to explore it every single day. I don’t really feel like there’s a disadvantage. Every individual creates what advantages and disadvantages they have.
While the best piece of advice I have received is “listen to your mom-she’s always right”, I do have my own to share as well. My biggest piece of advice would be to work your ass off. Don’t be afraid to take risks—do things outside of your comfort zone. Our pieces are timeless and classic, but with a twist because we’re not afraid to step outside of the boundaries. You just have to be willing to bust your ass, network, be open to everything, and expose yourself to as many things as possible.