Beyoncé. Jennifer Hudson. Scarlett Johansson. These are the bold-faced fans of Greenwich Village-based cult label Maria Tash’s Indian and Pakistani-inspired fine jewelry designs. And stylish women and men became fans when The Saks Shop Greenwich: The Collective recently hosted Tash for a pop-up shop. Held from April 27th to 30th, the temporary piercing destination featured the designer’s elegant earrings, meant to be worn across the ear in delicate multiples, as well as other tasteful facial piercings. Each design has a signature edge; favorites include pavé diamond ear cuffs and pearl hoop earrings. Serendipity sat down with Tash to discuss building her brand and her business and style inspirations.
Your brand has gained a strong following in recent years. Have you been surprised by the broad range of customers? I am not surprised that we see such a wide breadth of clientele—I am thrilled by it! We see mostly women ages 22 to 50 years old. We are also working on getting men involved like we saw in the 1990s.
Who inspires you most? I admire the business success of great, first generation designers: David Yurman and John Hardy. And my mother remains a driving emotional support and coach. Design wise, the great history of Indi/Pakistani granulation and detail work remains an inspiration for beauty.
You’re known for your edgy yet elegant style. Why is this crucial to your brand? I feel you have to create an identifiable style to make it as a designer. One way is to develop new techniques to hold diamonds or hold studs in place. I have worked extensively on invisible set diamonds, where there are no obvious prongs or cups over the top of the stones to hold them in place. I also developed a thin but sturdy threading call “Tash threaded studs” that are a new type of ear stud. Comfort for long term wear and durability as well as hyperawareness of hypoallergenic metals has forced me to innovate and create tools not available on the market.
How many accessories are too much? There are no rules for how many or too much. There are no more rules for symmetry or asymmetry. However, a complete look should not overpower or look gaudy. We have to take into account a client’s personal aesthetic, complexion, and amount of hair to determine what is that delicate balance between minimalist, bold, or too much.
What is the one piece of jewelry you could never live without? Earlobe jewelry! It does not have to be my first lobes, but I adore earlobe and my ear cartilage jewelry and change them and make them part of my wardrobe before any necklace, bracelet, ring or clothing.
What gemstones are you loving right now? I love the wonderful diamond. It is hard, reflective, refractive and classic. That might be a boring answer but it is as classic as it gets. It goes with every complexion and outfit. Second and third place would be the exotic tanzanite, and paraiba tourmaline.
How has your experience in piercing effected the way you design earrings? Piercing has had a profound effect on how I design earrings. I worry about weight of pieces so any pieces do not put too much pressure on any tissue causing migration; I worry about comfort for long term wear. Usually people do not change out third lobe and higher lobe and cartilage piercings and keep their jewelry in. This functionality motivates me to design very comfortable and form fitting pieces. I also worry about nickel free pieces more than other designers as removing this metal is essential to create hypoallergenic pieces.
If someone wants to try this look, where should they start? It is helpful to have a vision of what you would like your body to look like before we start styling and to map that larger scale vision. You don’t have to start with an earlobe piercing—in fact it can be quite artsy or avant garde to start with an unusual piercing and forgo the traditional lobes. Recently, I too have stopped wearing first lobe jewelry and am emphasizing and changing pieces in the rest of my ear for a more unexpected effect. However, lobe piercings are a quick heal and are easy to change out, hence its popularity. I would not get more than four piercings in one sitting as it taxes the immune system to heal, but one can supplement physiology with zinc, and historically I have done as many as ten on one person. Look on Instagram and on the internet for inspiration and research. Ideally know what you like aesthetically, to give stylists a direction. And be open for change in plans if the anatomy is not optimal.
What’s next for your company? We have a series of popup stores scheduled for this year. We are working with Saks Fifth Ave for a 10 day stint in Manhattan; then we are off for 10 day stays in Hudson Bay in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. We are planning on working with Hudson Bay in Germany and Amsterdam in the fall. We are also more than doubling our NY flagship store—all this year.