An Interview with Tatiana Cabral Smith: Handmade Jewelry Maker
Always upbeat, fun, and innovative, we couldn’t think of a better first person to showcase on our blog than local jewelry designer Tatiana Cabral Smith. With a sense of style that’s “bold, classic and whimsical”, Tatiana handcrafts all of her handmade jewelry in her home studio here in Savannah, GA. She is a great friend of Measure and honestly, I was so excited for this to be our first interview. In our effort to support local small businesses, Tatiana suggested we go to Le Cafe Gourmet for lunch, a new French cafe that was incredible. We sat down, munched on carbs and cheese, talked extensively about Tatiana as a designer, and exchanged stories about our mischievous cats. Check out her amazing handmade jewelry here... Tatiana Cabral SmithPhoto by Melody Joy
What type of maker are you?
TCS: I make jewelry, handmade jewelry with metals. I like to call myself a “baby metalsmith” because I’m still learning a lot and I’ve only really taken 3 classes; One in enameling and two in metalsmithing.
What influences your designs?
TCS: I would say everything; everyday things. I made a pair of earrings that kinda look like my shower curtain holder, so that’s one thing. My family also really influences me a lot, and culture; strong women also influence me a lot.
Any strong women in particular?
TCS: I would say, a lot of it comes from my mom because she was always interested in fashion design. But, I have a whole collection based on the women in my family. One design for each of them, so I’d like to do more of that.
Who are your favorite designers?
TCS: Jewelry wise, I really like Catbird, Lady Grey, Annie Costello Brown. I just like people who stay true to what they believe in and are influenced by good things; they can create something out of it and give back.
What kind of giving back?
TCS: Well for example, for me, I donate 15% of all sales to help build a well in Ethiopia, so I’m interested in designers who do that like for example, Lady Grey donates to Planned Parenthood. Ivanka Trump bought a pair of earrings from her and she donated all of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood in the name of Mike Pence, so I thought that was great.
What inspired you to start your business?
TCS: Really, I have anxiety and I needed a healthy outlet, so my friend was like “You should take a jewelry class, I think you would really like it” and I did it. I took evening classes from the City of Savannah S.P.A.C.E. Center and it worked with my schedule and I signed up for it and fell in love with it. I took a couple more classes after that, so that really inspired me. I needed an outlet, and it was fundraising, actually. It started as a fundraiser when I started selling it because people were asking me where I got my hand stamped bracelets. I had stamped the name of the village, Wachuge, Ethiopia and then people were asking me where I got it from and I was like “I made it!” and they were like “can I get one?” and I was like “Sure! For $30”. So I started selling it and donated the proceeds and then it’s just been going on ever since.
So how long have you been in business?
TCS: My website has been up for, I think this is year 2 now. I started December or Early January of 2016, so it’s going to be 2 and a half years. I took the three classes shortly before that.
Out of the three classes you took, which was your favorite?
TCS: Metalsmithing. I started with an enameling class because it worked with my schedule, but in the enameling class I ended up falling in love with the metals part of it. Like cutting and filing and stamping and soldering.
Oh, all the scary stuff.
What is the best piece of advice to give someone who wants to start their own business?
TCS: I think to give yourself deadlines is good. I really do need a deadline for myself so I can start moving on a project. Just putting it out there helped me, as I started with a website and I had a blog post on it. I didn’t even have a shop, I had pictures of things that said: “email me here and I’ll send you my Paypal link”. And that’s how I got started, just putting the website out there and telling people about it, people I trusted. And then they encouraged me, so I would say surround yourself with people who encourage you to do what you want and are honest; give you their honest opinion and feedback. “Real friends” type of people. But then, also start somehow. You need to put something out there if that helps you keep it going and that's what happened to me. I feel like it’s different for everybody, but in my case, it really helped me start.
Favorite upcoming trend?
TCS: I noticed there are a lot of nineties things that are coming back, just like things that I had as a kid. I honestly feel like some of the bad nineties trends are coming back but I like to pick up some of the good things, like statement earrings, hair accessories. I made some hairpins for some pop-ups so that’s something that I really liked. And then what else was it - oh! I love that hoop earrings are back. I feel like they never went out of style because I’m from the Bronx and that’s just a staple, but I feel like that’s a nineties trend I really like.
What’s a nineties trend you don’t want to see come back?
TCS: I don’t like a lot of neon stuff.
Favorite Shop and Restaurant in Savannah?
TCS: Oh man, Measure! Measure for all my packaging. I really just love all these new shops I see, it’s hard to pick something, so I don’t know.
Okay, what about a restaurant?
What drives your persistence daily?
TCS: Doing good; I’m an optimist in this way, but I’m also a realist like I want to make the world better than how I found it when I got here. I want to leave it a better place. I think that’s a big driving force for me just in every decision, like how is this helping anybody.
What’s on your playlist right now?
TCS: Cardi B. For motivation. Also, Fernando Villalona, which is a merengue artist. I’m really feeling some childhood hits, of like Caribbean stuff. And David Ramirez, Kacey Musgraves, Janelle Monae, I’ve got all kinds of playlists.
Who do you follow?
TCS: I really like to follow a lot of local makers to see what’s going on event wise. Also, some people who visually, I love. Oh, a huge inspiration, Solange and Saint Records. She’s also on my playlist. I really like people who are making good things, like quality things, so I follow this pottery place in asheville called East fork. But they also stand for a lot of things politically and they speak out about non-hatred. So all of that is an inspiration.
Any Specific Savannah Makers?
TCS: Yeah, I would say the people of Holly Oddly, Forest and Fin, Four and Fourteen. I really like fibers art, so like that’s pretty inspiring to me. JULU, The Small Creative, Daughter Handwovens, LouBangle, Gunner’s Daughter. There are so many goods, good people.Photo by Amy Anstatt
Tatiana is obviously a great person with a huge heart, and to top it off, she makes amazing handmade jewelry! Our lunch together was so much fun; I got to learn about her as a person, a designer, and a cat mom to Chloe and Pablo (Y'all, we both have cats despite our terrible allergy. That's devotion.). She has a firm grasp on herself and her brand, and I'm relieved to know she'll stick to the metalsmithing and never bring out any bad 90's neon jewelry. I've highlighted some of her work below - but check out her website, or any local retailers such as The Paris Market, Forest and Fin, East and Up, Otium, and Top Buttons Boutique to purchase for a great cause!