Meet Paulomi Debnath, the visionary behind Handmade by Tinni. We join her in the tangle as she ties the knot on yet another successful year in business with her sustainable jewellery and accessory brand. Crafting vibrant pieces from organic cotton in her London Studio, join us as we dive into the colourful world of Handmade by Tinni, where style meets sustainability in a tapestry of contemporary textile design.
Can you share the story behind the creation of Handmade by Tinni? What inspired you to start your own jewellery business?
I’m the founder and artist of the bold and sustainable jewellery brand, Handmade by Tinni. I launched my brand in 2020 to address the lack of colourful, fun, biodegradable jewellery for fashionistas who love expressing their personality with unusual, statement jewellery pieces.
I want my designs to bring joy, inspire confidence, and encourage ethical living. I’m based in London and make all my designs from my home studio. I was born and brought up in India and have now lived in London for the past 16 years. My art is heavily influenced by my rich Indian heritage and colours. I take great pride in making modern wearable pieces of art using traditional craft techniques.
What is your background in jewellery design, and how did your journey lead you to the world of handmade jewellery?
I was born in the lively yet mesmerizing city of Kolkata, India. It was a city where the hustle and bustle of everyday life was a constant reminder of its colonial heritage and history. From the morning tea vendors to the alluring smells of street food at night, there seemed to be something new to experience every day. I studied sales and marketing and started my career in hotel sales in India. In 2004 I met the love of my life, and we got married two years later. Soon after, I joined my husband in London to start a new chapter of our lives together.
Fast forward 16 years, I now hold a senior position in hotel procurement at my day job, and am a mother to an imaginative and handsome 12-year-old boy, and we live in London.
When I finally set up my own creative business in 2020, I drew inspiration from the bright colours of nature, the amazing places I have travelled to over the years and, most importantly, from the rich heritage of India. I wanted to find a way to bring together my passions for colours and jewellery, creating something that speaks to both my creative eye and fashion sense. And that’s when Handmade By Tinni was born in one of the most challenging times that our generation has seen.
In a market saturated with various jewellery and homeware options, what do you believe sets Handmade by Tinni apart?
I am on a mission to empower women to feel confident, look fabulous, and support ethical, local craftsmanship. My passion lies in crafting colourful and fun textile jewellery, including necklaces, earrings, and bracelets that are not just accessories, but expressions of individuality and style.
My brand is all about sustainability and joyful colour. I am dedicated to creating a legacy of change for a cleaner, greener planet. My customers love that my brand is colourful, unique and yet sustainable. Every piece I create is made by hand, without using any machines or electricity and therefore with minimal impact on the environment. I use cotton as my main design medium because it is biodegradable, soft to wear, anti-allergenic and colourful. My zero-waste designs are made from scrap rope endings to reduce any waste from my materials.
How do you infuse your distinctive style or theme into your handmade pieces?
Craft is a form of self-expression. Art finds a way to reveal our soul to the world. Craft is that special way in which one chooses to share their love for art and ultimately express their soul.
We are blessed to have so many varieties of art forms and craft choices. I believe everyone should adopt their inner child when creating an art form. Free from any worldly views, full of childlike innocence, and something that showcases our soulful passion.
The choice of the right craft is such an important step for an artist. Some would say that you do not choose the craft, the craft chooses you!
I chose rope knotting due to my love of repetition, and a bit more...
- I loved the whole look and feel of knotted jewellery. I wanted them for MYSELF. And the best part was, I had learnt the basics a long time ago as I used to go trekking and hiking back home in India. It just clicked!
- The amazing feel of knotting, the comfort of repetition and the OOZY happiness when you create something with it, especially jewellery.
Organic cotton is my material of choice over many others, since it is sustainable, biodegradable and can be sourced locally.
I learnt many knots over time, I spent a considerable time sourcing the perfect organic variety and the right cotton with lots of colour choices (28 and counting). Thus, started my rope knotting journey.
Ethical local brand
I take pride in being a local London-based brand committed to ethical production practices. Each piece is lovingly handcrafted using sustainable materials, ensuring you're not just gifting fashion, but a conscious choice.
My jewellery isn't just about aesthetics; it's about boosting confidence. The bold and colourful designs are crafted to make every woman feel self-assured, and ready to conquer any occasion.
Unleash your inner fabulous
My creations are not just accessories; they're statements. With our textile jewellery, wearers can effortlessly elevate their style and make a statement that reflects their personality and zest for life.
I understand the value of originality. Every piece we create is a work of art, ensuring wearers receive something one-of-a-kind that resonates with their unique taste.
Running a small independent business can be challenging. What obstacles did you face in the initial stages, and how did you overcome them?
It has been a challenge — being a small business owner and managing a niche jewellery brand with a strong ethos of sustainability at its heart, you need to learn to juggle creativity, marketing, PR, social media, branding and scaling with loads of multitasking.
'The only difference between success and failure is a lack of passion and conviction. When you have these two traits in abundance, you will find ways to make your dream launch.'
I am passionate about my brand’s future, since I managed to not only launch with newly adopted digital tools, but have also grown my sales channels through innovative marketing skills. My social media strategy, engaging content, clean photography, and innovative sustainable designs filled a void in the market. I have a niche clientele and, over time, my brand has grown from online, to retail, and handmade wholesale.
We are proud to be a sustainable modern textile design brand that creates unique wearable art. Our business has won awards, and seen double-digit growth since launch. We are now stocked in independent boutiques internationally and in many cities and locations around the UK. Our business has a solid foundation with aggressive growth plans for the future.
On the flip side, what has been the most rewarding aspect of managing your own jewellery business?
Being a solopreneur involves wearing multiple hats to make your business successful and viable. The only difference between success and failure is a lack of passion and conviction. When you have these two traits in abundance, you will find ways to make your dream launch. Also, I do not think there is one definition of success. Whatever makes us truly happy and content, is success.
- Invest in an intuitive digital and social media strategy. Businesses with a unique online presence are often more memorable than those without.
- Adapt sustainability in your business values and ethos. It is more than just a trend, sustainability is here to stay. Customers are also more likely to value brands with ethical values.
- Small businesses are the backbone of our thriving economy, and we have the power to bring change much more quickly than we think. Be part of a community with like-minded business owners and be open to training, mentorship, community support and collaboration.
- Never stop pivoting and learning. We are in an ever-changing economy where nothing is permanent for long. Being small enables us to be nimble and adaptable. This is a huge advantage small independents have over larger organisations.
- Every failure is a stepping stone to bigger successes. It’s a marathon, not a race.
Can you walk us through your creative process when designing a new piece? Where do you draw inspiration, and how do you bring your ideas to life?
My birth country, India, will always hold a special place in my heart. My art is greatly influenced by the traditions and festivals I grew up amidst over there. Even our spices evoke emotions and drown your senses with colours. Our centuries-old sarees and their crafting process would inspire any artist, especially if you are born at the centre of that culture!
I am also a dreamer! I dream up designs and then work my way to them. My sketchbook is full of scribbles and drawings of my designs. Ideas can hit me at any time. So, I make sure to always carry my small sketchbook with me everywhere I go. I play with colours and patterns to find the best combination to make a wearable piece. Some designs are so intricate and unusual that I keep them aside for galleries or art exhibitions.
My favourite bit, however, is playing with the materials and colours. I find a quiet corner and get busy with my ropes and accessories to find that perfect balance. 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 am not happy with the final design, and need to start again from scratch. I guess that’s the life of an artist!
It really is the best feeling when you see your idea coming to life exactly how you imagined it in the first place. What I make is wearable art. It makes the whole process so worthwhile!
As I work with cotton rope and yarn, I am blessed with plenty of choices when it comes to colour and pattern. The mixture of different knotting gives a unique edge to my designs. I also follow popular colour trends and palettes to get my inspiration. Pantone has a helpful library of colour samples and colour palettes to experiment with.
Sustainability is a growing concern in today's business landscape. Tell us more about your zero-waste collection, and how Handmade by Tinni incorporates sustainable practices in its operations.
At Handmade by Tinni, sustainability is a core value. Here are some of the ways we strive to be planet-friendly.
Made to order
Each piece I create is meticulously handcrafted, minimising our environmental footprint.
We prioritise using sustainable and biodegradable organic cotton, aligning with our design ethos.
Partnership with Ecologi
In 2023, we concluded a 34-month partnership with Ecologi, resulting in the planting of 284 trees in Africa. This initiative has contributed to a certified reduction of 19 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
I’m passionate about protecting our planet and creating ethically made jewellery and accessories. One of the most impactful things we can do to reduce our impact is to reduce our waste. My zero-waste collection showcases unique items made from the leftover rope of other designs. By using every scrap of material, it is possible to transform every offcut into a treasure.
As a small business, we are deeply committed to eco-conscious decision-making. Our vision is to create statement jewellery and personalised art for homes that bring joy to people's lives.
Do you have a favourite piece or collection that holds special meaning to you? What makes it stand out?
It is very hard to pick among all your creations as you put a little bit of your soul into each of them. However, if I really must, I will choose the Love Word Necklace.
This was the first design that 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 other 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 or even an anniversary gift.
What aspirations or goals do you have for your business, both creatively and in terms of impact?
On a broader scale, my business is not just about jewellery; it's a mission to empower women. I am dedicated to fostering confidence and promoting ethical, local craftsmanship. Every piece I create is a testament to the belief that fashion can be a force for positive change. By prioritising ethical sourcing and local craftsmanship, I strive to encourage a lifestyle that aligns with mindful and sustainable choices.
In essence, my goals extend beyond the artistic realm. I aspire to make a meaningful impact, contributing to a community of empowered individuals who not only embrace their uniqueness through my designs but also actively support ethical and local initiatives.
When did you decide to sell your products wholesale, and how has selling wholesale with CREOATE helped grow your business? What advice would you give to artists and makers looking to take the leap?
I made the strategic decision to venture into wholesale selling at a pivotal point in my career, recognising the potential for substantial growth and market reach. The transition to selling wholesale with CREOATE marked a significant turning point for my business, especially in cultivating relationships with a diverse range of clients, predominantly from the UK and a growing base in the US.
Selling through CREOATE has been instrumental in expanding my presence within the independent boutique market. The platform's user-friendly interface, coupled with its extensive network, has not only facilitated seamless transactions, but has also enabled me to connect with a broader audience of retailers who appreciate and value my textile jewellery creations.
Through CREOATE, I have successfully onboarded a noteworthy clientele, fostering collaborations with independent boutiques that align with my artistic vision. The platform's support in reaching and engaging with retailers has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the growth of my wholesale business.
For artists and makers contemplating the leap into wholesale, my advice would be to thoroughly research and understand your target market. Tailor your approach to align with the unique value proposition of your creations. Leverage platforms like CREOATE, which not only simplify the wholesale process but also provide invaluable exposure to a global network of retailers. Building meaningful relationships within the industry and staying true to your artistic identity will undoubtedly contribute to a successful wholesale journey.
For aspiring entrepreneurs in the handmade jewellery business, what advice would you offer based on your own experiences, particularly during busy periods?
For emerging entrepreneurs venturing into the handmade jewellery business, drawing from my own experiences, especially during bustling periods, I would offer the following advice.
Be proactive in preparing for peak seasons. If feasible, consider batch-producing popular items well in advance. This ensures you are well-stocked and ready to meet heightened demand, providing a seamless shopping experience for your customers.
Early Planning for PR outreach
Commence your public relations outreach at least 2 to 3 months before festive periods. This early engagement allows you to build anticipation and visibility for your creations. Keep in mind that retailers often finalise orders and plans well in advance of the busy season, so early promotion enhances your chances of securing partnerships and collaborations.
Careful preparation and timely communication can be pivotal in navigating the dynamic landscape of the handmade jewellery market, particularly during periods of increased demand.
Thanks so much for telling us more about Handmade by Tinni, Paulomi! You can shop Handmade by Tinni's bold and beautiful jewellery pieces and accessories wholesale on CREOATE, and follow them on Instagram @handmade.bytinni to keep up with their journey.
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