Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Meet the People - 19

Tawa Hunter (left); Aroha Armstrong (right).
Another in the Series Meet the People - Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things - Aroha Armstrong (Te Arawa) and Tawa Hunter (Te Whanau a Apanui), of Rotorua were casting pregnant women’s bellies in plaster and concrete when they stumbled upon resin. With no information but a whole lot of passion, creativity and determination, they figured out how to use it and the rest, as they say, is history. Pregnant belly castings gave way to the super cool, contemporary resin jewellery range, Too Luscious, inspired by all things Maori. Tawa, 33 and Aroha, 34 have been friends since they were at school and now Aroha is married to Tawa’s brother. Between them they have eight children. Not that that has slowed them down. Since Too Luscious came into being in 2005, it’s been a raging success and the dynamic pair has gone from strength to strength.

“Our first real piece was a hot pink resin tiki and everyone wanted one,” says Tawa. “We’d go out wearing our stuff and people would almost rip it off our necks. That was a great encouragement but we hadn’t even refined our resin processes or our business plan then. We ended up making them as fast as we could and we were just keeping our heads above water.” But they’ve thrived on both the creative and the business challenges and as demand has grown, so has the Too Luscious range. Today they have a tiki in two sizes and 28 colours; heru (hair combs), bracelets, rings, earrings and pendants. “Not all our pieces are based on Maori design but most are – albeit subtly in some cases. We give traditional designs a contemporary twist but we do that with respect. We see our jewellery as a celebration of our culture, of who we are,” says Aroha. “It’s colourful and it gives people permission to have fun.”

All images supplied by Too Luscious
Based on traditional designs like the tiki, the toki (adze), the heru (comb), the pekapeka and the hei matau (fish hook) – even a huia beak – the pieces are sold in over 40 outlets nationwide and internationally via the Too Luscious website. And it’s fair to say that anyone wearing a piece of Too Luscious jewellery definitely gets their fair share of attention. “They’re not for the faint-hearted,” says Tawa with a laugh. “They seem to draw people to you and we get heaps of letters and photos from happy customers all over the world.” Now that Aroha and Tawa have fine-tuned their business, they have plans to “move beyond jewellery.” Watch this space – or this one: www.tooluscious.com

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin