Shar­ing a spark

The National - News - Luxury - - // THE INSIDER // - BY ASH­LEY LANE

ork­ing with your spouse can be a dif­fi­cult busi­ness. But not so for Ju­lian Rotstein and Natascha Zu­chouwski, the dy­namic mar­ried duo be­hind the Tirisi jew­ellery brand. A mix of in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence, hard work and, per­haps most im­por­tantly, a healthy dose of hu­mour keeps the two on track. “We kill each other. You should see the scars,” jokes Rotstein, when I ask about their work-life bal­ance. This is to be one of the many quips made over the next half hour by this hugely charis­matic fig­ure. “But se­ri­ously, it works bril­liantly,” he con­tin­ues. “We don’t close the of­fice at 6pm and are on 24 hours a day. Yes, you fight but you can also be cre­ative.”

As we sit chat­ting in the St Regis Saadiyat Is­land Re­sort, the duo’s pas­sion for their brand is ob­vi­ous, as is the con­nec­tion be­tween the two. They also share an in­ter­est in fash­ion, some­thing Rotstein proudly men­tions sev­eral times. Zu­chouwski, who is poised and so - spo­ken, sports an all-black out­fit, while Rotstein is more dar­ing in a loud fuchsia blazer and white trousers.

The two are in Abu Dhabi for the launch of Tirisi Jew­ellery in the UAE, as part of an ex­clu­sive part­ner­ship with Al Ma­nara In­ter­na­tional Jew­ellery. The brand is cur­rently avail­able in the UAE only in se­lect Abu Dhabi lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing Abu Dhabi Mall, Yas Mall, Ma­rina Mall and Al Ain Mall.

Tirisi, which Rotstein says was cre­ated to “bring some­thing new into the mar­ket”, was of­fi­cially launched in 2010. Based in Am­s­ter­dam, the com­pany’s bold and quirky jew­ellery is ideal for those who are look­ing for a state­ment piece and have the means to pick up the odd Dh14,000 ring or Dh15,000 pen­dant.

“It’s ad­dic­tive,” says Rotstein of the brand’s mid-range, fash­ion-for­ward Moda line, which in­cludes be­spoke, in­ter­change­able charm bracelets. “They keep com­ing back for more. They’re like col­lecta­bles.”

Tirisi of­fers four lines: Moda and Tirisi Ac­ces­sories, which are not yet avail­able in the UAE; the high-end Tirisi Jew­ellery; and Three Times a Lady, which is named a er the Lionel Richie song.

The brand’s most ex­pen­sive col­lec­tion, Tirisi Jew­ellery, cen­tres on a se­lec­tion of stunning rings fea­tur­ing coloured gem­stones in bold set­tings. Each ring is part of a wider range, al­low­ing cus­tomers to pur­chase match­ing ear­rings, bracelets and neck­laces. For ex­am­ple, the Doha line, which Zu­chouwski shows me, fea­tures gem-en­crusted rings and ear­rings in eye-pop­ping shades of blue, pur­ple, red and pink.

Although the brand is still fairly new, the duo’s jour­ney into the world of jew­ellery started early on. As a young girl, Zu­chouwski loved play­ing with beads and sil­ver thread, she says, and would make jew­ellery pieces that she would then sell out­side her home in the Nether­lands.

Sim­i­larly, it was never Rotstein’s dream “to be an as­tro­naut, po­lice­man or fire­fighter”. In­stead, the South African en­vi­sioned be­com­ing a di­a­mond mer­chant. Even­tu­ally, their paths crossed and they went on to cre­ate what Zu­chouwski af­fec­tion­ately la­bels their “ex­tra baby”.

The brand is now stocked in 600 lo­ca­tions world­wide, but there is still much work to be done, they ad­mit. “Who has heard of Tirisi? No­body,” de­clares Rotstein, this time only partly jok­ing. Reg­is­ter­ing my sur­prise at this un­ex­pected ad­mis­sion, he con­tin­ues: “We have a way to go. A long way and we recog­nise that.”

But it is this same drive that led to Tirisi pop­ping up on Al Ma­nara’s radar. “Al Ma­nara is an in­sti­tu­tion,” Rotstein ex­plains. “You do not knock on Al Ma­nara’s door say­ing: ‘Hi, we’re Tirisi’, be­cause their re­sponse would be: ‘Who [on Earth] are you?’” In the end, it was Al Ma­nara that came knock­ing, which Rotstein says is “ex­actly what you dream about”. Hav­ing vis­ited Tirisi’s some­what ec­cen­tric stall at Basel­world (it was done up en­tirely in pink and fea­tured a 7.5-me­tre-high cherry blos­som tree) the jew­ellery re­tailer was im­pressed enough to ring Rotstein per­son­ally. And the rest, as they say, is his­tory.

Zu­chouwski and Rotstein have no in­ten­tion of slow­ing down, and re­cently launched a line of leather hand­bags as part of the Moda col­lec­tion. “We lead the pack, we don’t fol­low,” Rotstein says with con­vic­tion, when I ask whether hand­bags were al­ways on the cards for Tirisi – it seems like an un­usual evo­lu­tion for a luxury jew­ellery brand. “We want to be copied,” he adds. “It means we’re do­ing some­thing right.”

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