As a mother-daughter team making ethically produced jewelry with an organic and natural aesthetic, Tess and Tricia is a brand worth lauding. Tessa, the daughter and Patricia, the mother, always dreamed of running a business together. With Tess’s creativity and design skills, Tricia’s business experience, and their shared love of jewelry, the brand officially launched in 2013 in Minnesota.
Working with family members might seem daunting, but their strong relationship is well suited for weathering the storm of challenges one might experience when starting a business. As a young adult, Patricia was taken under her father’s wing on his business ventures and now she has passed the proverbial torch to her daughter as she continues what has become a family tradition: working together. Together they’ve created a brand that offers elegant simplicity to a girl who wants to accessorize with something beautiful, handcrafted, and fairly made in the United States.
Their most notable piece is their shed antler tip necklace, which is offered in a variety of styles. As Tessa notes, “We love antler tips for a number of reasons, one being that they are shed naturally and are simply found. In many cultures finding an antler shed is a sign of luck, courage wisdom and growth. When the deer shed their antlers each season, they have reached a fresh new chapter in their life. We found this really compelling and deep since we felt it mirrored the new chapter of life the women who work for us have reached.”
Hanging simply on a necklace, or adorned with tassels or beads, animal lovers need not worry — no animals are harmed sourcing the antlers as they’re found in the woods after “nutting” season, which is when deer shed their antlers. Tessa mentions, “Growing antlers are extremely taxing on deer, so when they scrape and rub them against trees to shed them, it’s quite a relief! When the snow melts, people go out to find the fallen sheds scattered throughout the woods. It’s really a beautiful cycle of life we are able to incorporate into our jewelry. “
We caught up with the duo who gave us exclusive details on their brand, including their partnership with Perspectives, an organization that, among other things, provides at-risk women with meaningful employment.
How did you get started making jewelry? Was it always a mother-daughter interest that organically developed into a business or was it something else?
Tess: I started making jewelry when I was little, like macaroni necklaces for my mom in kindergarten. I always loved how something so little could change your whole outfit — it was always so interesting and I always had a love for it, I knew I wanted to do something with it later down the road, and I always wanted to have a company with my mom.
Patricia: My father started a company when I was 21 and brought me in during the beginning so I have a background in this. When Tess transferred colleges and came back to Minnesota she talked about some bracelets ideas. I thought this was a great opportunity to teach her how to start and run a business. We have a great relationship personally and that is the same kind of relationship we have professionally.
It’s great seeing so many ethical, responsible brands and businesses emerging in the retail market. Yours is no exception and it is evident in your partnership with Perspectives. Was benefitting the community in some way part of your business model from the beginning?
Yes, it is hugely important to reach out and help how we can. We saw that as our jewelry demands grew, we needed a lot more hands to make our jewelry. It was so important to us to make sure we helped create jobs locally, so we found Perspectives.
Patricia: We were introduced to Perspectives through my sister and son. They were just starting their cookie company and were renting the commercial kitchen at Perspectives. Tess and I would go in and help them bake. We got to know the administrators there and got a better understanding of their program and it felt like a perfect fit.
What is it like running a business together as mother and daughter?
Patricia: For me as the mother it is a wonderful experience, as I said earlier I had the reverse role when I was 21 with my father. Now I understand the joy he felt coming to work everyday and getting to spend time with his children. Watching Tess evolve as a designer and business woman and seeing her dedication and work ethic is so amazing and fulfilling for me. We share a lot of experiences, wonderful ones and challenging ones and we know just as my father and I did that family comes first and business is second.
Tess: I love working with my mom. She is my idol and everything I aspire to be. Her experience and wisdom is something I am always so thankful for. We have a fantastic relationship and find a way to make everything work. Family is everything to us so this is truly such a great experience.
What are your favorite pieces?
Patricia: Wow, this is hard for me because Tess continues to elevate her design each season. It’s funny, she and I don’t have a lot of jewelry because we are so busy fulfilling orders that we forget to make pieces for ourselves. Sometimes when an order goes out we will hold up one of the necklaces, admire it and say, “I need one of these!” I would have to say my favorite bracelet is the Pyrite Triple Wrap and my favorite necklace is the White Turquoise & Silver Luna with the Silver Luna Layering piece, which I don’t have yet.
Tess: I love anything nude or gold! I am always wearing the Lux Lotus Flower Wrap Bracelet, and often a Kai & Pyrite Necklace or the Luna Fawn & Gold Necklace with Gold Layering Piece.
Anything new on the horizon?
Well, we don’t want to give away any secrets. We are working hard to continue to design unique handcrafted jewelry, we are expanding across the US quickly which thrills us because the more successful our business is the more women we are able to provide jobs to.
For more information about Tess and Tricia visit, www.tessandtricia.com.
By Stephanie McLean Villano