Sisters Elizabeth White and Jacquelyn Tugwell never intended to start a jewelry brand, let alone one in 250 stores. In fact, the duo has neither a background in jewelry-making nor in business. But one unexpected life event changed everything.
"We started by accident," Tugwell tells TODAY.com. "My daughter Banks was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was two. During that time, my sister kept me distracted by stringing beads and creating."
We had no intention of turning our bead stringing into a business.
While it started as just a creative outlet, the pair noticed what they were making wasn’t available anywhere else. The duo loved the idea of a statement piece, but found that what was on the market usually involved “costumey” shiny metal or rhinestones.
"We wanted a raw, organic, natural feeling piece that we could throw on with jeans and a t-shirt or a dress and have it still be the 'wow' piece that could transform your style," White says.
While at the beach, White and Tugwell made a few necklaces, which featured natural elements like shells and wooden beads strung on twine.
"We both wore them all summer and that is when people started asking us where we got them," White explains. "We tied our strung beads onto a suede strap for comfort and this became the recognizable trademark of Twine & Twig."
From there, two moms tell TODAY.com that "the ball started rolling fast" for their fledgling business.
"We had stores reaching out and had to Google how to create a 'line sheet'," Tugwell says. "We hosted one trunk show where we invited friends, who invited friends. We had no intention of turning our bead stringing into a business. We were creating pieces with the plan of a one time trunk show - that night we sold out of all 200 pieces."
The demand was bigger than the rate at which the pair could make the necklaces.
"We were two mothers (with) five kids between us who were designing and creating while our husbands watched the kids and our mom did coffee runs," White says.
But the pair made it work.
"We are now carried in over 250 stores and have seen Twine & Twig make it on some famous necks," founder Elizabeth White tells TODAY.com.
Since 2013, White and Tugwell have grown the brand to include wholesale accounts, an e-commerce website and a studio in Charlotte, North Carolina run by an all-female team.
"What we designed was something completely unique and original, which is what we credit to the quick demand that followed,” White said of the brand growing.
How the brand gives back
Fortunately Tugwell's daughter is OK now, but the pair have not forgotten how their business venture began.
"Because of the way that Twine & Twig originated, with my daughter's illness, naturally our first charitable act was to Make-A-Wish," Tugwell says, adding they have since created products where 100 percent of proceeds go to charitable organizations. In the past, they have created pieces to benefit everything from environmental conservation to humanitarian outreach. "To date Twine & Twig has donated over $50,000 to a variety of charities and organizations."
Twine & Twig design process
The sisters tell TODAY.com that each piece of jewelry, which includes necklaces and bracelets, is one of a kind.
"From the color variations in the beads to the texture of the shells and suede we use, no two Twine & Twig pieces are exactly the same," Tugwell explains.
Adds White, "We find inspiration for new collections from waves, trees, concerts, our kids messy paintings...you name it. Then we source our beads from near and far. The fun part is next, piles of beads and a ton of mess. We string, unstring, try again, finish each others...and then we have a necklace. Once we feel like it's a 'go' we have the girls in our studio start to duplicate, photograph, and set the product as live on the website."
The brand's signature design — a suede strap — is handcrafted on every single piece of jewelry.
"The process is a labor of love. It starts with receiving our full sized hides that are then hand cut down into individual suede straps," Tugwell says. "Our straps are then stitched and branded with our custom Twine & Twig logo. The branding tools we use add a very rustic handcrafted element to each style."
To see some of the brand's bestsellers, scroll below and to shop, visit Twine & Twig and use the promo code TODAY10 for 10% off.
Cowrie Collar #1
"Even though we have come up with twenty-plus new versions of this style, everyone always gravitates back to this classic," White says. "It is the perfect statement piece that can be worn with jeans and a tee shirt or a wedding gown. Jacquelyn wore it on her wedding day!"
Mixed Metallic Layer Necklace Set
"This set is best for people looking for versatility, because it has a variety of metal types," White shares. "It can be mixed and matched with any pieces you already have in your jewelry box."
Stacked Classic- Desert
"This is the perfect neutral statement," White says. "It's always a best seller in the fall and winter to spruce up your favorite black sweater."
"We love trios as gifts for the gals in your life," White says, adding they make great stocking stuffers, Easter basket additions, or teacher gifts. "The best way to start a Twine & Twig stack collection is with a trio set."
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