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We’re switching things up here a little bit this week. We don’t just have one kick-ass woman to feature… we have three! Introducing the lovely trio behind Tinsel & Twine, the Brooklyn-based event design shop. You name it, and the three founding ladies, Erica Taylor, Adette Contreras, and Liz Castelli, probably have done it! They are the definition of collaborative and inventive. An added bonus - they do whatever they can to give back and make sure that the events they are planning are being as eco-friendly as possible and that any leftover goods are donated instead of thrown away. Talk about amazing! (and completely in-sync with N&V!)
I got to ask the trio a few things about their business, as well as their personal lives (hey, it can’t be work all the time!). It’s astonishing how talented these beautiful ladies are. Check them out!
1. Hey Erica, Liz, and Adette! First off, if each of you could give a quick, one sentence biography of yourselves, that'd be awesome!
Erica: Besides being business partners, the three of us are long-time friends. We met while singing together in college. My professional background is in communications, advertising account management and business development, which is essentially what I do now for Tinsel.
Adette: I was born in the Philippines, grew up in Chicago, and went to school in DC where the three of us met. Now living in Brooklyn, and Tinsel has been a big part of why it’s been such an amazing ride in NYC. After business school, I found myself in the creative field doing advertising, web design, graphic design, and branding, so being able to build a brand of my own has always been the dream. And to be able to do it with my two best friends makes it even more magical.
Liz: I’ve got a background in science and taught public school in NYC for almost a decade. I’ve always had a passion for making things and spent many years working at a florist and have a love of all metalwork and installations. Here at Tinsel, I manage our production, and head up the in-house floral and design team.
2. Tinsel and Twine does everything from event planning to design to everything in between. How did you ladies decide to start the company? Is there a certain aspect that you would like to get into that you're currently not doing?
Erica: We started Tinsel & Twine following Liz’s stunning and very personalized wedding a few years ago. We realized that we had the passion and skillset to help others have equally special celebrations. Weddings will always be a large part of our business, but we are really excited to expand more into lifestyle work. Every moment should be celebrated. It’s Monday: let’s make a toast. It’s Springtime: let’s throw a party. You get the idea. We have some really sexy photoshoots and partnerships in the works to fully root our brand in that space.
Adette: We’ve got big things in the works this year. We started Tinsel with the mission to spread good design and spread good vibes. Life should be celebrated, and we’re incredibly grateful that we’ve been given the opportunity to pursue something truly creative. That–in and of itself–is worth celebrating. With this gratitude, we’d like to continue giving back and making an even larger impact, both locally and internationally. So, we’re working on a few charitable partnerships this year to keep the good vibes going.
Liz: I love that our business is ever changing. We do event design, but that can mean so many things. Just as Adette and Erica have mentioned we’ve got a lot of new and upcoming projects and work that keep us excited. This is best part about being your own boss – you make your business into what you want and can allow it to focus on what is important to you. It’s so empowering.
3. You ladies have gotten some tremendous press in the past and have been interviewed by a number of big-time platforms (I'm a HUGE fan of R29!). How has that helped Tinsel and Twine grow since its inception? Do you still consider yourselves a "small-business"?
Erica: Our press has always been an important driver of our business. Our best clients and partnerships have come as a result of the authenticity and candor of our brand. We discovered early on that the best way for us to convey that is by keeping it real in interviews and by engaging our “tribes” on social media. Originally, we embraced the idea of “small business” but that type of categorization can be really limiting. We are building a business and a brand with limitless possibilities for growth.
Adette: We started small and quickly learned that there are incredible opportunities for growth. Since we were able to catch some press early on, the business has grown at a rate that’s much more than what we predicted, so we’ve had to adapt and expand our team to be able to handle the influx. There are no signs of stopping, so we’re going to keep growing. Sky’s the limit!
Liz: Small business means so much more than size. We’ve have identified with that title as being a business that uses local artists, local product, and keeps values close to our hearts. I think that as large as we get, we will always be a ‘small business’ in the way we think and what is important to us.
4. All ladies have their own personal style. How would you guys describe your own personal styles? How does that play into your work?
Erica: Our distinct personal styles are a huge advantage to our business, because it means we don’t have just one “look.” Since we all have very different – but very complementary – individual tastes, our events and projects have a constant chameleon quality.
Adette: It’s fun because we get to run the gamut with all our different tastes. Liz is more rock ‘n roll with an affinity for McQueen skulls, floral patterns, and bright colors while Erica is more classically feminine, with a splash of leather, leopard print, and power red. I’m a little all over the place, opting for more offbeat pieces that I come across on my travels, playing all too often in the black, gray, and cream color palette. My latest uniform is a charcoal gray balloon jumper by Black Crane. It’s so comfortable; I wear it everywhere.
Liz: This is what is so special about Tinsel. Our business has it’s own personality which is a combination of our own individual sensibilities and tastes. Life would be so boring if you surrounded yourself with people who think and dress the same exact way you do. We’ve the got the important stuff on the same level, but yes… I’ve been known to try a splash of animal print thanks to Erica, or some fantastic drop-crotch pants inspired by Adette. Got to love it.
5. Now lets forget about work a minute -- what do you guys do when you're not working? Favorite thing to do?
Erica: Because we were friends before becoming business partners, we actually spend a lot of our spare time together, too. We are all big fans of karaoke, 90s music dance parties, backyard BBQs, and weekend roadtrips. Besides that, my fiancé and I both really love to cook and entertain. We love pouring a few glasses of wine and preparing decadent meals, whether it’s for a group of friends or just the two of us.
Adette: We work a lot, and I’m lucky enough to be doing what I love. So, when I’m not working, I design for fun, working on personal sketches, photos, or crafting around the apartment. Because we’re in such a social field, I find myself really relishing alone time: whether it’s stealing away on a solo vacation, diving headfirst into a good book, learning French in cafes, watching documentaries at home, or wandering the city with my dog, Lucy. Also, a good long run or some power yoga will bring me back to equilibrium when things get too hectic.
Liz: All the items mentioned above, most importantly when it is with my two lovely partners. When running around with my husband, I try my best to keep up with him and his need for adventure. Snowboarding in Utah, surfing in Australia, or running around discovering new rock climbing spots in Thailand – he is always pushing me to get a little uncomfortable and try new things. Lately I’ve been really excited for Tinsel to do a trip to the Philippines, to see where Adette is from and eat my way through Manila.
Want to learn more about these three leading ladies and their brand? Check out their website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @tinseltwine (on both platforms!) to see some of their work in action!
On October 19, 2014
Thanks for the great features, ladies. Kudos & keep killin’ it!
On June 02, 2014
Thanks for the fab feature, ladies. Great questions.
On May 30, 2014
The Nikita and Vesper blog is about celebrating our love of socially conscious fashion. We are sisters, the founders of Nikita and Vesper. We believe that we are all in this together, and the choices we make, from what we create to what we buy, can change the world.