Tom and Tzameret in studio. (photo by Galit Reismann)
An Israeli mother and daughter duo have combined to create designer pieces that use exclusively natural textile, with a focus on nature, and creations that become an extension of the wearer of any shape or size.
Tzameret, 50, and Tom, 28, began their business from home when Tom was at Israel’s Shenkar College of Design, in her second year of studies (2009). Tzameret, an art therapist by profession, was looking to do something different, and building this business with her daughter was the perfect fit.
The pair began the work little by little while Tom was finishing school. After Tom graduated with honors in 2011, with a bachelor of design, she and Tzameret invested all the time, energy and resources they could into their brand. For the past 18 months, they have been working out of a studio in Jaffa.
Tooshaaya is a design studio for eco-textile accessories with the driving concept of “body, home, soul.” For now, they create accessories like scarves, shawls and cardigans, but they plan to soon also design accessories for the home and soul.
“I’ve wanted to have my own business since I was a little girl,” said Tom.
During the summer between her second and third year at Shenkar, Tom said, “I wanted to make my own products, like scarves, and sell them. My mom was at a point when she wanted to take a small break from therapy.
“As always, I shared my prototype with my mom. We started talking about it and the idea to work together came up. I thought it was a great idea.
“Me and my mom are complete opposite in a lot of things. That can make us feel crazy sometimes, but it also makes us perfect business partners and designers. Also, we always know how much we love each other and that we want the best for each other.”
Tzameret has always loved art, creation and design. Also, she said, “I love Tom, believe in her, and appreciate her talent. Since she was four or five years old, it has been very clear she is gifted in art and has her own unique way of looking at things.
“We decided to join forces and talents, and create an exciting journey together. Although it’s not always simple to be a business partner with your daughter, it’s a huge privilege. I’m very proud.”
When Tom was in college, she “learned the textile industry is the second-most-polluted industry in the world.” She said, “As a textile designer, I see it as my responsibility to design and create ecological textile.” Tooshaaya’s motto is “Touched by nature.”
Tom and Tzameret chose to work only with natural materials, especially with new eco-fibres like bamboo and soy. “These fibres, in addition to the eco part, have special and very important qualities, like UV protection, hypoallergenic, temperature adjustments and [the] creation of amino acids, which is healthy for the skin,” explained Tom. “They’re good for the world and the body. Of course, we also believe in sustainability and love the energy of natural materials around our bodies.”
Tooshaaya designs are inspired by the sights, shapes, textures and colors of nature. “With each of our designs, even when there are few similar items, no one [item] is the same,” said Tom. “Each has its own unique design and process of production, which is mostly handmade.
“We believe that, when we feel comfortable, it’s easier to be connected to nature and express who we are.”
It has proved challenging to find natural materials, however. “Yarns are imported by us,” Tom said. “Also, producing natural materials is slower and more complicated than it is with synthetic or mixed yarns.
“Israel is a small and challenging market, in general, and particularly for niche designers,” she added. “We’re glad to have local [from Israel] and international loyal and return clientele who love our designs, appreciate our work and share our concepts.
“When I look at nature, I see infinite organic beauty composed of stability and softness, a tension between order and disorder, and the changes wrought by time, giving everything its unique character.
“My art and designs are a constant search for this organic esthetic. When I design an item, like a scarf, I create a second skin that looks organic and feels like a natural continuation of the body. The item’s unique character comes from the person who wears it, through movement and over time.”
Each item is made using special knitting techniques, with fine and delicate threads, hand dying, embroidering, weaving and felting. The items can be worn with a variety of clothing types and styles. Most are one-size-fits-all, suitable for sizes 36-44 (EU).
“Our ability to create custom-size orders, including plus sizes, is also somewhat unique,” said Tom. “Our items can fit almost anyone. And our ability to ship worldwide is very exciting. We send packages to all continents of the world, from the U.S. to Turkey, Russia, Thailand, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada and Italy.
“We love our work. What is most satisfying is when customers tell us how much they enjoy wearing our items, and we can see how our ideas are reflected in reality and bring happiness to others.”
Rebeca Kuropatwa is a Winnipeg freelance writer.