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John Lennon alleged, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” and jewelry designer Anuja Tolia knows a thing or two about this sentiment.
After graduating from Michigan State, Tolia moved to New York with plans of furthering her education. After applying to the apparel design programs at both FIT and Parsons, Tolia chose the one she felt best suited her needs.
“I wanted to go to private school so I chose Parsons, which was a very helpful platform,” Tolia affirms. “It helped form personalities and allowed me to learn how to start a business.”
Today, the Michigan native boasts a degree from Parsons The New School for Design, has worked backstage at New York Fashion Week, and enjoyed a stretch at Liz Claiborne where she learned core design practices. While impressive enough for any big city dreamer to get complacent, Tolia naturally wanted more.
“At some point when the economy went downhill, I decided to do something different. I applied to the Studio Art Centers International School in Florence where I spent a year studying the art of jewelry making,” she remarks.
That year proved to be transformational as Tolia took the time to absorb every morsel of culture possible. “I tried to get inspired again. There’s passion in jewelry and I looked at the culture, contemporary art, magazine tears, and different hand-making factors like stone, wire binding; things you don’t see everyday,” she recalls.
As the program in Italy’s bustling city came to an end, Tolia returned to the States equipped with a firmer understanding of molding metals into bracelets, and experimenting with raw, uncut stones. With her prototypes and ideas for a new collection, Tolia joyously launched her jewelry line.
While Tolia is still adjusting to her new craft, she often finds herself juggling the many roles of running an independent jewelry company.
“Everything’s a learning process and with doing three lines a season I think, ‘should I take a break? Should I continue? Because I wear all the hats in my company.’ I’m jumping through some hoops trying to figure out how to solely keep my mind on design,” she states candidly.
In spite of that overwhelming feeling, Tolia knows that all it takes is that one incredible moment, when she sees her designs in real life, to make it all worthwhile.
She beams, “Honestly, the enjoyment of making something and seeing people wear it is what keeps me going. Accessories can make or break an outfit and people want things that are beautiful and affordable, so it makes me feel nice that they want my pieces. I think it’s just one of those feelings.”
Ever inspired, Anuja Tolia is ready to see where her creations take her. She hasn’t quite given up on designing and won’t rule it completely out of her future.
“I haven’t realized that designing clothes wasn’t for me yet. I felt that it just wasn’t time. I do want to eventually own a boutique with my own designs, but I’ll start with jewelry first.”
For more information or to shop the collection, visit Anuja Tolia www.anujatolia.com