Maria Tash’s namesake brand, founded in 1993, is a leader in fine jewelry specifically made for body art and piercings – a category that, despite widespread demand among Millennial and Gen-Z consumers, has few players.
But Tash today announces her first formal jewelry collection — part of a new operating strategy to scale growth on an international level. The collection, including new developments in diamond cutting and setting, also launches with two new ear piercings of Tash’s design — both trademarked and exclusively available at her stores worldwide.
“I’m a first-generation jewelry designer — I didn’t have any tradition to uphold and didn’t come from the headspace of making heirlooms,” Tash said of her brand. “I love goth and punk — that’s where you saw piercing and jewelry tied in with music and fashion. I come from that era, it’s very liberating. A lot of the jewelry business is engagement rings; I’m from a different mind space — I want to buy it and get it for celebrating myself, and that’s part of the DNA of the brand.”
The company now has six stores, both stand-alone units and in-store concessions in cities including New York, Dubai, London, and Rome — the latter of which is a kiosk located within Rinascente. As retail continues to struggle due to the fallout of the coronavirus crisis, Tash thinks her stores’ entertainment factor positions them for growth in this new shopping economy. Each boutique or concession also offers piercing services, as well as ear styling and check-ups on existing piercings. The latter two services are now also available through virtual appointments — a development that Tash implemented at the height of COVID-19 lockdowns that she intends to keep for the long haul.
While the brand is in expansion mode, Tash said: “We haven’t taken investment yet — it’s always a point of discussion, how fast we can expand and whether we want to take it on. We used to have people approach me regularly, but as of now we are self-owned and funded.” The brand declined to provide sales numbers or shed light on the volume of piercings it conducts in its stores.
A store in Kuwait is expected to open later this year, and Tash is exploring further opportunities in the Middle East, Asia and Europe — regions where bespoke, high-end piercing services are scarce. The company also intends to strengthen its wholesale partnerships, which do not represent a majority of brand sales, but help with brand awareness and growth.
“Nordstrom, Matches and Net-a-porter are all companies that are strong digitally and those relationships are valuable,” Tash said of some of the company’s distribution partners. “In terms of coordinating collections, wholesale was another consideration so we can introduce things globally at the same time,” she added of the decision to develop her first formal collection.
Tash’s new designs take her brand to its highest price point yet — introducing an array of suspended and invisibly set diamonds. Coming from a punk era, she also was focused on developing a diamond spike to mount onto a hoop earring. Prices start at about $400, with the average ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, and some special items hitting up to $20,000.
“It’s the culmination of many years of work — pulling ideas out of sketchbooks from the past couple of years. It involves a lot of innovations to fine jewelry — custom-cut diamonds that haven’t been seen before,” Tash said.
“Our clientele asks for this so I was confident we could move it,” she added of the brand’s new products, which will roll out on Sept 14 into updated stores that abide by new sanitization standards, like UVC lights and ATP testing for case line cleanliness.
As Tash’s name is synonymous with bespoke piercing experiences among trendy shoppers, it is fitting that the jeweler has developed two new ear piercings not seen before. The illusionary piercings use a suspension technique to drape chain — sometimes set with diamonds or other precious stones — as if it were a necklace within the ear. The Tash Hidden Rook and Tash Helix — both trademarked developments – will be a new focal point for the brand as it scales growth.
While these new piercings appear to have two entry points within the ear, their trick is that a single post and goalpost wire is hidden within the ear’s anatomy — suspending the chain to drape within. “I see my business as the intersection of jewelry, fashion, and beauty,” said Tash of her line.