It’s always fun meeting new people, which is why we came up with the idea of The HTF Hot Seat – a regular post to introduce you to the creative dynamites behind some of your favourite hardtofind products. This week’s seller in the spotlight: Teresa Tiong, founder of jewellery label Au Revoir Les Filles.
I’m known on hardtofind for my… fine beautiful jewellery that’s modern, sensual and effortless. We’ve just released some new star and moon designs in the form of delicate bracelets, minimal ear hoops and tiny micro studs. Recently, we’ve had Samantha Harris wear our Celestial Bracelet – she is amazing, and has graced the cover of Vogue Australia.
Right now I’m inspired by… all the intricate detail that’s showing on Paris Couture Week. The creations – especially from Rodarte, who adorned their models with flower crowns made of baby’s breath – blow my mind.
My favourite part of the making process is… designing and creating the vision of the new collection. I have always loved designing; I find sketching and watching my designs refine over time, then seeing an actual prototype very fulfilling. But I also love creating the campaign for the collection. This involves taking all my inspiration that I’ve accumulated while designing the jewellery, and re-interpreting it into a world where people can see how the pieces can be worn. I do this through a photoshoot, working with models, stylists and photographers, who help me create an imaginative world where my jewellery sits in. The last campaign we did was with fashion blogger Margaret Zhang, and it was set in an old abandoned French submarine, which alludes back to the underwater theme running through our jewellery designs.
I work from… a little design studio in Sydney. The room is bright with white walls and I have a small collection of skulls, coral and albino butterflies. I really like to collect curiosities – they have so much story and each is unique in its own way. Dali, our cavoodle pet mascot, keeps me company sometimes when I design.
A typical day for me is… always different! Some days, it’s logistical and customer service, sending off orders – others, I can spend designing or looking for inspiration for collections. Most days, I’ll start by going through emails and social media. I like to tackle the more difficult chores in the morning, going through sales figures and working out our business strategy. Lunch is normally a quick bite out in the sun, catching up on news and what’s happening in the fashion industry. In the early afternoon, I take some time off to design or review the new collection we are working on, seeing what pieces will work together. I might grab a coffee or drink with a girlfriend. I sometimes cook in the evenings while I wait for my boyfriend to get home (he works in film and TV) and we’ll watch a cooking show, which we are addicted to, and take Dali for a walk. Then maybe some Netflix or a good book. We’ve just finished watching Westworld – I really enjoyed its narrative and dialogue. I love shows with a distinctive visual style, that combine history and mythology in a modern way.
My proudest business moment was… when The Veronicas wore Au Revoir Les Filles jewellery at the Aria Music Awards last year. It was totally out of the blue, we had no idea they were going to be wearing them! We were with a PR agency before, but started doing our PR in-house. It is a lot more work as we have to organise all the samples for loans, but very fulfilling to build up a relationship with the different stylists that we work with. And since then, the brand has gone from strength to strength, and our jewellery is constantly in demand and out on loans.
When I started my business, I wish I’d known… to not be so hard on myself. Being an entrepreneur is tough, you need to be able to learn from your mistakes and move on. When I first started out, little problems used to bother me a lot and I used to take it very personally. It took a while to adapt. My skin is a lot thicker now; if problems arise, I’m able to shrug them off. If I have a bad day, I’ll take a couple of hours off, whether its to exercise or chill or just catch up on sleep. When you’re well rested and feel balanced, you’re able to cope and solve problems better. I also take notes on my calendar of everything I’ve achieved since starting my business. It helps to put things in perspective when you can see how far you’ve come.
I’d describe my personal style as… ever evolving. When I was younger, I was inspired by subcultures like boho, hip-hop and goth. I loved to experiment, decking myself out in vintage, prints and handmade pieces. These days, I still love vintage pieces, but wear them more sparingly or mix them with modern pieces so they feel more updated. I really like classic silhouettes now, and am often dressed in solid colours like white, pastels or black. Brands like Ellery, Dion Lee and Zimmermann are some personal favourites.
My last purchase was… an Iro leather pencil skirt! I’ve been meaning to buy a black leather skirt as an investment piece, and this one has beautiful silver eyelets with lace-up detail on the front. It’s a twist on a modern classic – very sexy. It was a bit of a splurge, but I fell in love with it at first sight.
The first thing I do when I wake up is… check my phone for emails and Instagram, followed by a cup of hot water with lemon.
The motto I live by is… live madly, love wildly, dream endlessly.
I’m hoping 2017 will bring… more growth and a new office space. We are getting busier, and it will be great to get more help and support so we can grow the brand to its full potential.
Everything tastes better with a little… spring onion oil. It’s a Chinese/Vietnamese classic, super easy to make with chopped spring onions, sautéed and seasoned in olive oil. We generally make a big batch, and keep them in jars in the fridge. They are perfect for drizzling on rice, or to use as a base for salad dressings or sauces.
Hardtofind is Australia’s leading online curated marketplace for gifts, fashion and homewares.