The jewelry industry, particularly the manufacturing sector, does not innovate, Forbes contributor Andrea Hill says. “Sustained, explicit focus on design would surely help create more differentiation in a sea of sameness. And that’s the kind of value add that consumers are willing to pay for.”
Yet, despite a lack of industry innovation, “The jewelry industry seems poised for a glittering future. McKinsey & Company estimates, “Annual global sales of €148 billion are expected to grow at a healthy clip of 5 to 6 percent each year, totaling €250 billion by 2020. Consumer appetite for jewelry, which was dampened by the global recession, now appears more voracious than ever.”
Amid promising industry outlooks, there are pockets of innovation. Amongst them, are entrepreneurs like Tal Man, a designer, and goldsmith by trade.
The former TV hostess and model turned founder created TALIA Jewelry, a luxury jewelry company, for women who seek uniqueness and versatility in their lives and accessories. The mother of two designed the TALIA customizable jewelry system and found inspiration in the unlikeliest of places – legos.
Here’s an inside look at Man’s brand journey and the design influence behind her customizable jewelry system of infinite possibilities through “jewelry play.”
|Founder(s)||Tal Man, Ronen Berka|
|Location||Pine Brook, NJ|
|Year of Establishment||2016|
|No. of Employees||6 – 10|
The intersection of jewelry design, modularity and reversibility
YFS Magazine: How did you launch your career as a jewelry designer?
Tal Man: I was a successful TV hostess and a model, but my dearest grandmother was very persistent that she wanted me to get my degree. Out of respect for her, I decided to attend Shenkar (Shenkar College of Engineering, Design, and Art, based in Ramat Gan, Israel) and fell in love with jewelry design, which became my biggest professional passion.
“I fell in love with jewelry design, and I can say whether it was modeling or jewelry design, with both jobs I’m the boss of myself! I make the decisions for myself and have the responsibility for the results of my actions.”Tal Man
In 2007 I opened a jewelry design studio to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. When I met with customers I felt their need to be involved in the creative process.
Fast forward to 2016, together with Ronen Berka, my life partner, and Alon Arabrov our partner and investor, we thought of a unique and new concept that would enable customers to build personalized jewelry.
YFS Magazine: What inspired you to create TALIA Jewelry?
Tal Man: TALIA was born out of a need to cater to the wishes of today’s confident, successful woman who wants her jewelry to be both unique and versatile, precious yet affordable, classic yet contemporary, easy to wear and, perhaps most importantly, easy to vary. I believe that style is a matter of individuality; a true celebration of a woman’s self-expression.
YFS Magazine: What is your design influence for the TALIA collection?
Our inspiration came from Lego blocks–the modular nature of the whole Lego concept.
“Every designer knows the importance of geometry in a good deliverable. The modular nature of the whole Lego concept, allows you to play and come up with different forms composed of smaller brick modules. While, reversibility allows you to experiment, explore and permute to come up with best design.” TALIA Jewelry’s customizable jewelry system was built with this concept in mind.
For “designers and creatives it is always important for us to explore new design concepts and ways to push the boundaries of design. Lego was, and still is predominantly a children’s toy however, it is a building block which can be used as a tool to overcome design challenges and it can also create an unusual aesthetic.”National Design Academy
YFS Magazine: How is TALIA Jewelry’s approach to jewelry design unique to your industry?
Tal Man: TALIA’s design concept stems from our need as human beings, and especially as women to renew. No matter what I buy, a dress, car or anything else, I eventually get used to it, and the initial thrill of renewal is over.
TALIA’s patented design concept allows customers to co-create personalized jewelry pieces. Each TALIA Jewelry piece features an original, patented mechanism, so customers can easily change, rearrange, and expand on their design. We initially launched three collections of pendants that contain more than 300 charms, from which different shapes can be assembled.
What also makes TALIA unique is the ongoing collaborative design process that continues once a customer receives her desired set. She can transform her aesthetic and enjoy whimsical creativity by ordering new charms to create a variety of styles without complexity. Simply by adding another charm, once in a while, the number of jewelry designs one can create increases exponentially.
YFS Magazine: How did you meet your co-founder?
Tal Man: My co-founder Ronen Berka and I are a couple and we have two daughters together. TALIA is really like our third daughter––our brainchild. We later met Alon Arabrov, our partner and investor, during our seeding round and clicked immediately.
YFS Magazine: What are your day-to-day roles within the company?
Tal Man: I design the jewelry and handle the creative direction of the company. Ronen handles the business side and day-to-day operations to keep the company moving!
We are partners who complement each other. The division of responsibilities and tasks between us is what drives TALIA forward. We have learned a lot about shared management and division of labor in the most productive way.
YFS Magazine: What design challenges did you have to overcome during the development process?
Tal Man: Every day is full of challenges, but our biggest challenge was to create something that doesn’t exist and still meets the needs and desires of potential costumers.
We wanted to create a jewelry design mechanism that enables modularity without using tools, prior knowledge or, heaven forbid, magnets. We created and patented a central rod that is the heart of the jewels and underpins the personalization aspect through the addition of charms. The challenge of building a mechanism that could be used in all of our collections, current, and future, was also something to consider.
YFS Magazine: What has been your biggest startup challenge to-date?
Tal Man: Building a team is challenging. Mainly, understanding the difference between hiring people who will do the job and building a strong brand team.
In the first case, you will definitely get the job done, but the second approach enables you to build and launch a successful brand. Every one of TALIA’s team members is an important element of our overall success, not just another cog in the machine.
There is practically no room for error when you’re building a team.
YFS Magazine: What is your approach to growing the TALIA brand?
Tal Man: TALIA was established as a direct to consumer, digital-first brand. As such, we invest heavily in communication with our community that is being built around TALIA. We are constantly learning, which is reflected in product changes and continuous improvement in our digital channels.
Successful brand building has many angles. At the beginning of TALIA, we decided we want to be a catalyst for change both in the industry in which we operate and in society.
For example, we are launching a collaboration with an amazing organization called Girls Inc., a U.S.-based 501 nonprofit organization that encourages girls to be “Strong, Smart, and Bold” through direct service and advocacy. The organization equips girls with the skills to navigate through economic, gender, and social barriers and to grow up as independent individuals.
It is part of our commitment to give back to society through the empowerment of women. This partnership will play a key part in growing the brand. Customers will see that our brand owns a much bigger picture than just selling jewelry.
YFS Magazine: What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Tal Man: Pursue your dreams. Neutralize fears of the “unpleasant” or what someone will say. If you do not try, you will never succeed!
If your dream seems too far away, set a sequence of mini-goals – real and possible goals that put you on the path to your ultimate goal.