This week I’m featuring a brand – Handmade By Tinni – that is all about sustainability and joyful colours – jewellery and home decor signs using organic cotton rope and yarn. Let me introduce the lovely designer Paulomi Debnath onto the blog….
Hello, I’m Paulomi and I am a textile jewellery designer and the face behind Handmade by Tinni. I create colourful, bold pieces of designs that brings joy and inspire confidence. I am a coffee lover, passionate about jewellery (read obsessed!), slightly eccentric, a pretty good cook (Asian mainly and certified by my other half!) and a proud small independent business owner.
I was born in Kolkata, India, a colonial city with a rich heritage and history. Charming and extremely busy, my birth city holds a special place in my heart forever. When I set up my brand finally in 2020, I drew my design inspiration from the bright colours of nature, amazing places that I have travelled to over the years and most importantly from the rich heritage of India.I studied sales and marketing and started my career in hotel sales in India. I am passionate about travelling and have always found great pleasure in promoting hotels and destinations.
In 2004, I met the love of my life and in 2006, we got married in Kolkata. We both belong to this ‘City of Joy’ and very proud to have strong roots there. Soon, I joined my husband in London to start a new chapter of our journey together. With my experience in hotel sales, I was back in hotel sales management.
It has been a challenge – managing a creative business while working full time as a Senior Buyer, a wife and a mother of a 10-year-old boy (who always keeps me on my toes). You constantly need to learn to juggle a busy work & social life with loads of multitasking. But with constant support from my family, I always have been able to overcome that. When it has come to living my dream, I don’t want to resign into a life of missed callings and dreams.
My brand is all about sustainability and joyful colour. My vibrant, bold designs bring joy & inspire ethical living. I am based in London and make all my designs from my home studio.
What inspired the brand name of “Handmade ByTinni”? What made you decide to concentrate on textile jewellery?
Tinni is my nickname that my family lovingly call me. It is like my alternate personality – cheeky, full of fun and colourful! When I was searching for an ideal brand name, I really wanted it to represent my soul and my passion for Jewellery. AND…… I am totally addicted to jewellery. My mum often teases me, and says that I am building a secret jewellery museum. And being an Indian by origin, I am spoilt for choices. I am extremely proud of my eccentric collection which is a mix of vintage and contemporary design.
So, my brand name is my cheeky pet name and echoes that I design every piece of my jewellery home studio based in London. When I started Handmade By Tinni last year, I wasn’t even sure how far I could go with it, because everything was uncertain at the time. But I knew that I wanted a brand name that would mirror my passion and my hard work. My designs are handmade, and hence, it’s Handmade by Tinni.
I also launched my home décor designs a year back and they have been very popular too.
I love the Red Knotted Statement Cotton Necklace as well as the home decor signs. What items/colours are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
Thank you, Linda. That Red Knotted Necklace – Maya Necklace is one of my first designs and a all time favourite. The design is simple yet classic and very easy wear for all occasion. And not just in red, this necklace (and all others) is available in twenty-eight colours, which makes it popular as a gift too.
In terms of colour, currently I am seeing an increased demand for Mustard, Fuchsia, Turquoise and Emerald Green. These colours are very vibrant and add glamour to any outfit. So, a great choice if you want something new that is not Red or Black.
In terms of designs, I am so excited to see customers are increasingly embracing colours and experimentation. I am receiving more and more custom requests with design details, colours, shapes, and whole array of words when buying our custom word necklaces. I would forecast a lot more experimentation and adding a bit of glitz and glamour to classic designs. More and more customers are being open to statement pieces to show off their individual styles. This fashion forwardness really inspires me to create unique designs knowing there are accessory lovers who admire statement niche designs.
Being a small independent brand, customers are also feeling confidant in approaching the designer to commission a custom, unique design that they will treasure forever. I am blessed to make someone’s dream design for them!
Out of all your collection, do you have any favourites?
It is very hard to pick among all your creations as you put little bit of your soul in each of them. However, if I really must, I will choose the ‘Love’ word necklace.
This was the first design that really earned my place in our creative community and became my signature design. I have since created several custom word necklaces as I can make any word (4/5 letters max recommended) like your name or belief or fun words, into wearable pieces.
This is a unique piece of jewellery which is perfect to gift to a loved one. It makes a great valentine’s day gift, a Mother’s Day gift or a anniversary gift.
As you are based in London, are your products available to purchase overseas?
Absolutely. We can deliver worldwide. I would always recommend choosing tracked shipping when buying from international designer for additional peace of mind.
We are also stocked at various boutiques in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, France, Italy and of course in UK.
It always gives me greatest pleasure if I am introduced to a jewellery lover from overseas. Just a little appreciation for social media here, as without that, many small designers like myself might not have achieved a bit of global recognition. My own Instagram is so colourful with stunning, inspiring posts from all over the world, makers and buyers combined. Just make me very happy to see so much love for small creative industry especially over last 2 years.
When designing jewellery to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, requests, or bits of all those?
When designing a new collection, I do not follow any rules. I am influenced by nature and colours around nature. I keep myself updated around the colour trends and design influences around the world like minimalistic or geometric and incorporate that in my designs. I do rely on Pantone colour trends and colour charts when considering new colour collections.
My custom designs are really a mixture of what the client envisioned and my creativity. It is so exciting to create someone’s dream design with a bit of my own twist.
What do you enjoy most about making textile jewellery? What was the hardest piece of jewellery to make or the most unusual request you have had?
There are some who would say you don’t choose the craft; the craft chooses you.
I love the whole look and feel of knotted jewellery but I am also very drawn to the art of repetition. I love the feel of knotting, the comfort of making the same movement over and over, and the oozy happiness when you create something with it. I take great pride in making modern wearable pieces of art using this traditional craft technique.
I’m self-taught in the art of rope knotting and I spent many days perfecting and learning the craft. Even today, I get excited about learning a new knotting technique, which I may or may not be able to use in my upcoming designs, but it is thrilling to do something new. The experimentation of mixing and matching different knots excites me too. Some of these techniques are ones I learned when I was trekking in the Himalayas.
Hardest piece of Jewellery – Without a doubt my cotton wrapped collection. This wrapping technique is time intensive and requires precision. Each piece is unique and timeless. The delicate craftmanship makes them really ‘hard to find’ jewellery pieces.
Most unusual request – I have designed plenty of custom designs and each are unique. From brand name to first name to their favourite word to special tangled designs, I have really done a spectrum of unusual designs. This particular designwas6 unusual as it challenged me to recreate a necklace design to a pair of anklets for a special customer. I had to carefully redesign to make it as close as to the original design they loved.
What are your top tips on looking after your Statement Textile Jewellery?
Very good question and I have a website section dedicated to product care.
Please treat your jewellery / accessories with care, whilst it is durable, handmade jewellery / accessory still needs love and care! So, look after it well & it will last a long time.
• Avoid contact with water, oil, lotions, insect repellents & perfume
• Please store away from extreme heat, strong sunlight, water or high levels of moisture & try not to drop it!
• To keep your Textile jewellery shiny clean, always use a super soft cloth to get rid of any smears & smudges. A microfibre cloth, similar to the sort you get with your reading glasses is a good choice
• Jewellery with Magnetic Closures – Kindly open and close the magnetic clasps by holding the metal section only. Try not to pull the rope endings. They are glued and strong pull might unglue the magnets
. • Always ensure the cloth is clean, dust free & rub lightly to avoid losing the shape of the product. For more stubborn marks, a little bit of water or baby wipe should help
- Avoid contact with body oils, and other chemicals, including household cleaners.
• Remove when sleeping, exercising, or doing other physically strenuous activities
• Do not use chemical jewellery cleaners.(
• Do not wash.
Storing jewellery whilst not in use:
• Kindly always store the necklaces flat when not in use to maintain shape.
• Try to keep them away from children’s hands as the shape is written in calligraphy way and manhandling can ruin the letters and / or writing.
• Store your accessory in a cool dry place.
Your company has partnered with Ecologi. What does that involve?
When I began creating my statement jewellery, I knew that I had to do so sustainably. Protecting our planet is no longer an option, it’s essential. As a small business, I ensure I’m eco-conscious in every decision I make. I chose cotton as my main design medium as it is sustainable & bio-degradable, soft to wear and anti-allergic. My zero-waste collection ensures that every offcut is used so that I’m not wasting materials. Handmade By Tinni is also committed to sourcing materials ethically and continuing to find ways to reduce my business’s carbon footprint. One way we do this is by supporting Ecologi, a wonderful organisation dedicated to reforestation. Together with Ecologi, Handmade By Tinni enables the planting of 32 trees per month.
See Handmade by Tinni Forest here.
Growing up, did you always want to be a jewellery designer or did your aspirations lie elsewhere?
I am totally addicted to jewellery from early days! I designed and dressed up my own collection. My aspiration was always around jewellery and I wanted to become one as soon as I finished studies. However, I followed my second passion at that time and started working in travel industry.
I am a bohemian traveller at heart, and I have been very lucky to have travelled to many places over the years due to my work or simply holidays. Nothing inspires you more than the multitude of traditional art and craft, the people and textiles from different countries and cultures.
So, imagine my excitement when I could finally launch my own jewellery brand inspired by nature and the places that I have travelled over the year.
Could you explain your creative process?
I am a dreamer! I dream a design and then work my way to it. Ideas can hit me at any time, so I carry my small sketchbook with my everywhere. It’s full of scribbles and sketches of designs. I also keep an eye on popular colour trends (Pantone has a helpful library of colour palettes to experiment with). Once I have an idea, I play around with the material, colours, different knots and patterns to find the best combination to create a wearable piece – although some of my designs are so intricate, they are only for galleries and exhibitions.
I like to find a quiet corner and just get busy with my ropes and accessories. Some days it’s easy and I can make the final design in one go. However, there are days when I need to work longer and harder before I can transform that thought in my mind into a design. Some days, I must start again from scratch. I guess that’s the life of an artist! It’s the best feeling, though, when you see your idea coming to life exactly how you imagined it
Hypothetically speaking, if you could nominate a famous person (dead or alive) to be the “Face of Handmade By Tinni” who would you pick to represent your brand and why?
I am a HUGE fan of Iris Apfel. Her trend setting eclectic style of layering bright colors and patterns while pairing oversized accessories together, especially her signature black glasses, just makes me supercharged and inspired. Every time I see an image of Iris, I find myself just ogling!
Given a chance, I would love to raid her wardrobe and just amass every accessory! (Iris Mam, if you are reading this blog, don’t judge me please. Many fashionistas have the same dream, believe me!)
So, it is only my dream to have Iris Apfel as the face of Handmade by Tinni.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
My brand reflects my personal style. Colourful, edgy, structured!
Work-wear – I am huge fan of vibrant colours paired with eternal classics like blue denim or pleated skirt. For a more polished look, I just pair my outfit with a cotton blazer. I own quite a few structured jackets in an array of colours.
Another look that I really love is printed dresses paired with jackets or blazers.
I love prints and abstract colour combination. Most of my clothes are handpicked and from good brands to ensure long shelf life.
Of course I always pair all my outfits with statement jewellery pieces.
Holiday Look – Floaty dresses, pair of classy shades, long beaded / tassel necklaces and dark lippy.
Indian wear – Due to my heritage, I am fortunate to own a huge collection of handloom sarees and Indian dresses. They are handcrafted, some are handstitched all over the body and just purely stunning. I dress up quite often when attending cultural events.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
I am a huge fan of Kate Spade New York and Desigual. I have a weakness towards designer bags, and I celebrate my big wins with a fancy purse few times. I have a Desigual coat, and it is a head turner! Whenever I wear that, I get compliments, and everyone wants to know where I got it from. Ted Baker – OMG! I love their design essence and own quite a few dresses, skirts, tops etc. Just love the simple, classic yet colourful designs.
Is the rest of your personal jewellery collection is as bold and colourful as your work?
I have always been an avid collector of antique and hand-crafted jewellery. Here are some of the pieces from my own collection that are truly treasured and valued antiques. They hold very dear memories for me…
Pic 1: Gifted on my wedding by my Grandmother-in-law, who received this as a wedding gift from her mother-in-law. This armlet is at least 100 years. It is one of my treasured vintage pieces. I am truly humbled to own it.
Pic 2: Another weird-shaped silver piece! This was part of an elaborate Indian anklet. I only received this part and wear it as a choker. Thankfully, I don’t have thick neck!
Pic 3: This was a gift from my mother-in-law. The armlet belonged to her great grandmother. The main piece of the earring is a bit bent as it is part of an armlet (I only got them as those pieces) and I then designed it as a earring pair.
Pic 4: This was an heirloom hair accessory used by aristocratic ladies in a traditional Indian household. I transformed it into a statement neckpiece.
Pic 5: An original piece of antique Afghan jewellery, I bought this necklace and anklet set on a trip to Dubai, from a little shop in the souk. I absolutely love this piece – it’s entirely unique and was very hard to find.
Pic 6: Look at this riot of colours! This awesome piece is from Sorrento in Italy. It features original Italian semi-precious stones and is very heavy but such a head-turner.
Pic 7: An amazing piece given to me from my sister who bought it from a local designer in my hometown of Kolkata. I love the colours and simplicity.
Pic 8: This is another gift from my sister and was chosen by my little boy. My darling sister took him to a jewellery exhibition and apparently, he wouldn’t leave until my sister bought this necklace for his mumma. He knows I would LOVE it.
Pic 9: This is pure silver jhumka. It is extremely dear to me, although it’s quite heavy and not for the faint hearted! Gifted by my Ma.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I have spotted a Kate Spade quilted bag and that is definitely on my shopping list. Also, I am eying the Kurt Geiger rainbow bag that is a stunning showstopper.
Boots or Shoes?
It used to be shoes but slowly and steadily I am moving away from pointy heels, stilettos and replacing them with comfy, stylish boots or flat slip-ons. I own a pair of Kate Spade sparkly boots and a pair of Mulberry flats. Really comfortable and awesome style quotient. Love them both.
Links you would like to share e.g.website/Facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Handmade By Tinni.
Website – https://www.handmadebytinni.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/HandmadebyTinni
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ByTinni
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/handmade.bytinni/
What exquisite jewellery and I just love the colourful vibes! Thank you Paulomi for the wonderful tour of your jewellery loves and lusts!
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Handmade By Tinni