On the 15th of June last year,
around 10 in the evening, an email popped up in my inbox. It was another work inquiry. This time from a social entrepreneur based in San Fransisco, who was looking for someone to be the face of her jewellery and accessory start up. Hmm. Sounds interesting, I thought. Little did I know, how significant this email would be in shaping the next year of my life.
Fast forward 3 months and a dozen email exchanges, and I find myself in the lush greenery of Iloilo, where we spend the week shooting photos and videos for the alpha (soft) launch of TARA (The Artisan Row Accessories). I was instantly drawn to the beautifully crafted pieces, but also quite overwhelmed with the back story of this social enterprise. Annette, the #girlboss and brains behind TARA shared with me her dream of creating premium jewellery whilst tackling pressing social issues like gender inequality and poverty in the Philippines. I mean, this was a big dream, and indeed, Annette was just a girl with a big idea, going out on a limb to produce her first ever fashion campaign.
Fast forward another 4 months...
and we find ourselves in San Francisco shooting the collection for the 2016 launch (I actually cried when Annette told me she wanted to bring us there to shoot)! It was my first time in the city, and I instantly fell in love with the place. I’ve never been anywhere like it! The iconic, colourful townhouses, the chilly yet fresh weather (a much welcomed respite from the Manila heat), the crazies on Haight st, the perfectly steamed cups of non dairy coffee, my now favourite designer consignment store… they all hold a very special place in my heart. Also, by navigating the city in search of the best locations to shoot, I inadvertently had the best tour of San Francisco imaginable!
That being said, what really made this trip unforgettable was the coming together of a few brilliant minds to work on what I’m now coining #TARAxSF2016. I was so excited to have the incredibly talented Kim Jones on board with us for this campaign, and learnt so much from her creativity and fashion forward insight. The “create yourself” video (which nearly made my heart explode from an amalgamation of pride, inspiration and general FEELS) is the brainchild of Blueqube, a production house from Iloilo with which we shared many good times (and gin tonics). Then there is of course, none other than one of my best friends and talented photographer Paolo Pineda, who has been on board with TARA since the very first shoot.
And now, here we are. TARA has evolved from a big idea into a brand with distinct, classic, timeless pieces made from high quality gold and precious stones. I love that these pieces are meant to last – I know that they’re forming the foundation of my wardrobe now, and I’ll treasure them forever.
But TARA isn’t just about the jewellery. For me the brand embodies the girl who is hungry for inspiration. The girl who wants to see the world and conquer her fears. The girl who sits down with her morning coffee, puts on a brave face (with the help of some gangsta rap) to smash another day. She’s strong but sensitive. Has a ferocity to her drive but radiates warmth and compassion. Her joie de vivre is contagious. Essentially, she’s Annette (the sort of kick ass human I aspire to be).
To see TARA come to life, and to be a part of that journey has been the most wonderful, inspiring experience. I’ve never felt so connected to a brand and its story, or felt so passionate about its purpose. I’m proud as punch, and mark my words: this is only the beginning. The best part is, wherever TARA may go in the future, I can always claim to be the OG TARA girl. Ohhh yeah.