PILLOW TALK: SUZZAN ATALA OF TUZA JEWELLERY
Between designing new pieces for her hand-made jewellery brand Tuza, opening her latest store, and jetting between Mexico City and New York, Suzzan Atala is a tricky one to pin down.
Since launching in 2014, Suzzan has been taking the world by storm with her unwavering passion for female empowerment, her approach to creating jobs for skilled jewellers at Studio Tuza, and her desire to nurture an international community through her brand. As one of the only Mexican made-to-order brands of its kind, Suzzan is also deeply passionate about becoming fully sustainable, taking pioneering steps in ethical production. From what began as a venture into jewellery exclusively, with her very cheeky (if controversial) Vagina pendants putting the brand on the map, Suzzan has since expanded Tuza to include a range of ethically produced clothing and handbags.
On a very rare relaxed morning, we met with Suzzan to talk about her passion for supporting and empowering women, her career journey so far, and the magic of reading in bed with a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday morning.
Hola Suzzan. Describe yourself in three words.
Hola! Hyperactive. Direct. Loyal.
What is something unusual about you that not everyone knows?
I used to be very scared of being by myself. I struggled to be on my own and not surrounded by friends. I’ve worked really hard to be comfortable in my own skin and now I really enjoy having “me time”.
Tell us about your brand, Tuza. Where did it begin? Where is it going?
Tuza officially began five years ago this September, but I started planning and working on it way before that. When I started I would make very DIY jewellery inspired by my background in sculpture. I’d make tiny clay sculptures and turn them into earrings or necklaces, and would give or sell them to friends. I got an internship with a jewellery designer and learned the craft for two years and then got a job, but I was always working on my own thing on the side. When I moved from London to New York I worked for Pamela Love for a year, then I did my own thing. I already had lots of pieces, so by the time I launched it properly I had a very strong collection. Right now we are working really hard to become a sustainable brand and to be part of the change in fashion culture in Mexico and the world.
We love that Tuza is passionate about female empowerment. Can you tell us a bit more about your values, and where they came from?
I am definitely passionate about female empowerment. On a personal level, it’s vital that women know the importance of feeling empowered and the real meaning of that. It goes beyond wearing a vagina pendant on your necklace or protesting on the street. The idea of female empowerment is to understand that nobody should ever disrespect you, and that our community of women is our greatest ally. My values come from being brought up by a single dad and two older brothers. My dad gave me the same opportunities as my brothers and he made me feel powerful, like I could conquer anything by myself.
Growing up, I was a tomboy who didn’t have many female friends, but moving to London I built a strong group of friends who showed me support and love like I had never experienced, and set the tone for how I wanted to act with other women.
Tell us more about where is your jewellery made and who creates it.
All of our jewellery is handmade from scratch in the Tuza workshop in Centro in the heart of Mexico City. We used to work with artisans, however we couldn’t ensure that they were paid properly, so I decided to open the Tuza workshop, where we are creating all of our own rules.
For the full interview, pick up a free copy of The Sunday Paper Issue 6