We had the good fortune of connecting with Veronica Tharmalingam and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Veronica, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I was born in Chennai lived there until I was 12 and moved to France, Toulouse first then Paris. Even though I am and will always be a Chennai girl I wouldn’t say it’s just my Chennai background that shaped my work. It’s much more deeper than that, being of Tamil origin and growing up in that culture and being immersed in all the colorful sarees, gold jewelry and accessories of Chennai, Tamil Nadu and India contributed tremendously of course. But it’s mostly by watching my mother do her shopping for sarees and jewelry that I learnt how to mix and match colors and jewelry patterns that are not common combinations. The stories she would tell me about her mother, my grandmother helped me develop an eye for fashion and colors. I guess it is safe to say that it is kind of in my DNA… in the 30s and 40s my grandmother was very avant-garde and a style icon in her city. Even before Fashion Week existed she would tell her tailor to make an outfit inspired by a movie she saw and she turned heads wherever she would go with her sarees and would always mix match her gold jewelry. My mother was the same. She would place custom orders at the stores for sarees and gold jewelry with unusual color combinations that would throw off and surprise the sales people, and they would even warn my mother that it was not going to look pretty etc. She would be so sure of her choices and of course the results were always amazing, and the store would order more and sell out each time. She was a trend setter and couturier herself. She would tailor clothing for herself and us (me and my big brother) that would always have a wow factor. My mother had a very keen eye for fashion and what would be trendy in the future. So, I grew up observing all this and unconsciously soaking it all in. Ultimately, this is what led me to combine saree raw silk and jewelry techniques. When I moved to Paris, France I was scouted on the streets and became a model. I worked with major brands in Europe and Asia and walked the ramp for Paris Fashion Week for Haute Couture. This experience expanded my vision for style and fashion. This helped me develop my own style which mixes Indian boldness and French sophistication. I would always carry an accessory that was from India every time I went out and people would always stop me and ask about it. This is how the idea was born, I realized this is a unique combination of fabric and jewelry that could resonate with women around the world.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have both a handbag and a jewelry line at the moment. The name of the handbag line is the Rani Collection, which means queen in Tamil, while the jewelry collection is named Maheswary after my mother.
My vision for these collections and my brand in general is to empower every woman to cultivate her uniqueness. My bags and jewelry are a symbol for women to find and nurture the graceful authority and the regal elegance that exists within themselves. To own a Veronica Tharmalingam handbag and jewelry is to dare to express this inner warrior queen everyday with class, authenticity, confidence and style. This is tied into the names of each model, which take inspiration from unique women from the past and present.
The Rani Collection has six statement handbags that were initially designed for evening wear but evolved to daywear. I see these as show stoppers with bright colors and intricate details to make that statement even with a pair of jeans. All the handbags except for one are made of raw silk and are lined with the royal blue VT brand color inside. I am also a practical person and I do not like heavy handbags, so I made it a point to make my bags as light as possible. Even with the intricate art work you will see on them we picked very light and high end materials. Another problem I wanted to solve was to have actual space inside the clutch for example. I’ve always heard my girlfriends complain about their clutch or evening bags not having space to put basic essential things inside them. Even my smallest clutch can fit a phone, lip gloss, car key and 1-2 credit cards (YES!! For real). Another thing I wanted to ensure was that these bags were versatile. By changing the way the straps hook onto the bags you can achieve multiple looks.
The Maheswary Collection is my jewelry collection. It started off as my own private collection that I hand picked from skilled artisans around India. I had not initially planned to bring these to market, but again, the positive feedback I got whenever I would wear these led me to start thinking about incorporating them as part of my brand. I developed a deeper relationship with the artisans and they are now part of the team and work on statement jewelry pieces – there are literally only one or two of each model.
I also wanted to have the Veronica Tharmalingam brand be synonymous with sustainable fashion. This industry is one of the most polluting and I want to keep our carbon footprint as small as possible by only sourcing materials already available locally in the market. Each season we use raw silk that is already produced for various events in India and thus we do not produce any additional material for the brand specifically. Same goes for the jewelry – I choose materials from what is already present and available. We also keep the numbers limited to be more sustainable too, we will only make 100-150 units per handbag model. The handbags are also made to order so unless someone places an order we do not start making it. Of course this means that there is a wait period for each bag, but it truly means each bag is unique to you.
Veronica Tharmalingam TM is also about giving back to the community so we want to give up to 30% of all sales to charities that are close to our heart.
We just dropped our latest collection today 5/2 which is an ode to The Maldives. You can check it out on our website at www.veronicatharmalingam and on Instagram:@veronicatharmalingam
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hmm, are we staying in LA or going around?
If we are staying in LA I would show them my secret LA 😛
Will take them to my fav coffee shop on Canon Dr in Beverly Hills : Euro Caffe where you get the finest Italian croissants plain or with filling and the best Italian coffee.
They also have amazing panini sandwiches, salads, oh well everything in their menu is super yummy!
Then we would divided and conquer LA, its so spread out and with traffic one week is a good time to cover the area 😛
I’ll take my bestie to Downtown LA to visit the Art district and check out the cool graffitis, then we would go for a quick bite in the Grand Central market, then the Bradbury building.Check out the Last Bookstore and finish with Union Station and Olvera Street.
Will have dinner at the Ace hotel and admire the Gothic buildings, have an after dinner drinks on the roof top st Perch.
Day 2 : We will continue our visit in DTLA with the Broad and MOCA for some culture check, will be too exhausted after this so order some take out from OTUS cafe and chill at home.
Day 3 : Go to Griffith Observatory and then Hollywood blvd and check out all the touristy places, walk of fame, Chinese Mann Theater, Hangout at the Roosevelt poolside after for dinner
Day 4: Go to LACMA, do some shopping on Melrose. have lunch at Little Door or Joan’s on 3rd. Or may be do Joan’s for lunch and dinner at Little Door 😛
Day 5 : Go to Santa Monica beach side and hang out there. do the 3rd street promenade. End up at Magic Castle after for the night.
Day 6 : Check out Venice Beach and Getty Center.
Day 7: Go to Hammer museum and finish off at the beach by Annenberg Community beach house.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mother, husband, my 2 amazing children and my friends are my number one fans. And I could not have accomplished any of this without their guidance/help/support and love. It is an amazing feeling to know that all these extraordinary humans are there for me and look out for me.
Linkedin: Veronica Tharmalingam
Other: TIKTOK : Veronica_tharmalingam
Photos by Rocco Ceselin and Sebastien Gonon