The full version of this Twine & Twig for QC Exclusive spread ran in the 2020 Arts & Culture issue, on stands and available for purchase now.
Words & interviews by SUNNY HUBLER – Styling & Production by WHITEY ADKINS – photos by KYO H. NAM – location CAMP NORTH END
When we first talked to Jacquelyn Tugwell and Elizabeth White, the sisters were about four months into a jewelry business they had just started, stringing shells and beads in their living room. It was 2013, and the business was Twine & Twig; now, seven years later almost to the day, Elizabeth and Jacquelyn are running a highly successful and widely recognizable brand of hand-tied, hand-stitched, and hand-branded pieces that now include lifestyle and apparel, too. Over the years, the business has been recognized by everyone from Garden & Gun to Vogue.
The sisters have become a huge part not only of Charlotte’s arts and style community, but its philanthropic underpinnings. To date, T&T has donated over $50,000 to a variety of charities and organizations, most often by creating a piece of jewelry and giving 100% of the proceeds to the charity of choice. The purchaser not only gets to donate, but gets a wearable item to keep forever.
“Our hope is that the pieces will be a conversation starter about different philanthropy objectives, as well as a symbol to remember your good deed,” Jacquelyn explains.
In 2013, the first big “break” for Twine & Twig came from the Charlotte staple Poole Shop, who noticed the sisters’ work and got them in front of new eyes. The spark was lit: Twine & Twig rapidly grew into a Southern brand every bit as distinct and recognizable as some of their heavy hitting, old school counterparts.
There’s something modern and evolved for Southern style with these pieces; They are bold and eye-catching, yet somehow no frills. Part of the appeal also lies in the tangible connection to the land: suede straps, found shells, African trade beads, horsehair tassels, and shed antlers.
“No frills” applies not just to Jacquelyn and Elizabeth’s aesthetic but their approach — they’ve truly learned on the job, with no airs and no claims to be experts; rather, the two women grew a brand with vision, adaptability, grace, and a whole lot of learning curves.
“People are often shocked we produce everything in-house with our team,” Elizabeth says.
There are many things we could send overseas for a much lower price point, but that doesn’t feel right for us. And we’re proud to use local companies any time we can.
Throughout, the business maintained its family-owned and operated roots, and stayed nearly 100% local, too—hard to pull off for a fashion-driven company today. The T&T studio/shop is housed in Charlotte, and the team is made up of local women who handcraft every piece.
When the seven year anniversary rolled around, both women knew exactly how they wanted to celebrate: by showcasing the community that supported them, their home, and giving a nod to “the diverse culture, unique talent and style” of Queen City-ers. Pictured here are people who represent the true spirit of Charlotte, by bringing their authentic selves to their work and their gifts. In these pages, you’ll see these locals show off their own distinct style alongside the distinct style of Twine & Twig pieces in broadly ranging, artful ways.
In addition to pulling together this wide array of talent the team will also launch a charitable stack for sale to the general public, with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit local charity Charlotte Alliance Foundation.
“Our philanthropy is driven by family or friends’ illnesses, world news, environmental pressures, and more, so when things are going on in the community we feel we can rally around and give back to, we do,” Jacquelyn explains. “People can feel overwhelmed with how to help, so we’re happy to have created a way to shop for a cause and know that your purchase is making a difference.”
Paying it forward and giving back, as Elizabeth puts it, is something both women agree is their favorite part of the business they built, bead by bead.
So, what does this seven year anniversary mean to you?
Jacquelyn: It is an incredible feeling to have made it. As many people who own small businesses know, there are ups and downs, and moments when you think it could all end (like when a pandemic hits). Reaching seven years has given us the hindsight to examine all the bits and pieces that helped grow Twine & Twig to where it is today.
Elizabeth: It has been quite a ride.
We did not get to this point without many growing pains, but each one shaped us and taught us a valuable lesson. So, seven years means a heart full of gratitude for me.
As a family business, is it important to the two of you to stay “hands on involved”?
Jacquelyn: Yes! We are learning through business coaching, books, and podcasts, where we need to shift our focus so we have the capacity to do what we do best: brainstorm new ideas, design, and create. We are trying hard to step back and learn how and when to delegate so we can use our energy and time to do the things we love.
Elizabeth: It’s 100% crucial for us both. We have an awesome team keeping us going, but that doesn’t mean we get to step away, nor want to. It’s our baby we built together, and we’re proud to come into the studio and keep brainstorming ways to create new pieces. In the past, starting out, we were up until 2 am working after being moms during the day. Now we have a team, and most importantly, a manager (Biancca Rivera) who delegates our priorities so most of the time we can do those remotely. We meet up and have great creative sessions where we brainstorm and create new collections.
How do you continue to find inspiration or design ideas?
Jacquelyn: Having children is a source of limitless inspiration. The way they see the world, mix paint colors, the texture in their unbrushed hair, the dirt on their hands—it all inspires us to look at things with a different lens.
Elizabeth: Hands down, travel! Sadly, this is not happening, so these days it’s a field in the mountains with interesting texture and hues, and sometimes it’s a big mess of paint that my kids have left out in the art room at our house… Either way, the most important takeaway is to always keep your eyes open.
Tell us a few of the big lessons you’ve learned through business ownership.
Jacquelyn: I think when you see small businesses featured in magazines or on social, you see the pretty side of things. We didn’t go to business school or ever take a class on jewelry design or marketing. We learned the old-fashioned way, learning as you go. That includes messing up and many frustrations, but those mishaps are offset by the wins; the feedback from happy customers, writing a check to a charity, getting a story in a magazine and having the platform to teach our kids they can dream big.
The highs always outweigh the lows!
Elizabeth: Owning your own business has so many incredible perks, but, at the same time, it also has so many stresses. It’s a 24-hour job, seven days a week. One of the things I’m still learning is when to take a break and put down work. It’s important to have your mind rest so you come back energized and creative.
What are a few of your goals and dreams for the future of Twine & Twig?
Jacquelyn: There are so many cool products and brands that we love and fit our aesthetic, so we want to support other small businesses by selling their products to our customers through our “Found & Curated” page. The idea is to have a full lifestyle brand where you can come to our site for jewelry, but then also scoop up these clothes, home goods, and accessories all in one place.
Elizabeth: We’ve already surpassed so many goals we had early on, from Vogue to being carried in awesome national retailers like Anthropologie and Neiman Marcus. For the future, it’s hard to imagine the possibilities. I would say a new goal is to be more of a nationally-known brand. We’re Southern girls, and the Southeast loves Twine & Twig. I would love to have more presence on the West Coast and in cool cities across the US.
Inspired by Community
These 22 Charlotte movers and shakers have helped inspire and support Twine & Twig’s artistic efforts. These individual’s creative energies extend in a variety ofdirections, from fitness to fashion to news reporting. Each of them answered a few of our top questions including:
1. What advice would you give to your younger self 10 years ago?
2. Do you have a local philanthropy near and dear to your heart?
3. What is your favorite Charlotte-based Instagram account to follow?
4. What inspires you and sparks your creativity?
5. What are your top 3 most played bands on Spotify?
Then, after we got to know each other a little better, these locals showed off — at our Camp North End location — how they like to wear Twine & Twig with their own unique looks.
JEREMIAH ALLEN of ROOK AND KING
My Words of Advice: Dreams don’t come true by chance. They come true by willing them into reality. A Local Charity I Support: For me, it’s a business like Kimpton, with their powerful emphasis on diversity and community outreach. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @qcexclusive What Inspires Me: Style itself and world culture. My Top 3 On Spotify: Alina Baraz, Partynextdoor, and Giveon.
ARIENE BETHEA of DRESSING ROOMS INTERIORS STUDIO
My Words of Advice: Everything will work out better than you could imagine. A Local Charity I Support: I recently worked with Furniture For Good. They help people transition out of homelessness. My Favorite Instagram To Follow: I love Ariel Perry’s account @arielperry What Inspires Me: I’m inspired by my vintage finds and hunting for vintage pieces. My Top 3 On Spotify: Jay-Z, Common, and Floetry.
MORGAN FOGARTY of WCCB TV
My Words of Advice: Tune out the noise. Also: Read more. Scroll less. A Local Charity I Support: I’ve been involved with Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Carolinas Chapter for more than a decade. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @dressmyroom What Inspires Me: Interior design, fashion, andseeing the work of other artists. My Top 3 On Spotify: Megan Thee Stallion, Stevie Nicks, and Lizzo.
AMANDA MCLAMB of RESIDENT CULTURE BREWING
My Words of Advice: Spend more time with yourself. A Local Charity I Support: Inspire the Fire My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @pagefehling for being the ultimate hype woman and heralding the talents of our city’s hidden gems and people. What Inspires Me: Immersing myself in learning about a process or culture is one of my happiest places. My Top 3 On Spotify: Ella Fitzgerald, Bob Marley and the Wailers, and The Beatles.
DEANNA TAYLOR of THE BLOCK, CHARLOTTE FIVE
My Words of Advice: To understand that experiences are better than things. A Local Charity I Support: I really appreciate the Hashtag Lunch Bag effort. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow @itstheblock_What Inspires Me: New environments allow me to gain different perspectives on life, and in turn utilize that in my creative process. My Top 3 On Spotify: Chloe x Halle, Jhene Aiko, and Beyonce.
WILL BIGHAM of PIZZA PEEL
My Words of Advice: Work with Nikkeia Lee to set up our mission and goals for Stomp Chomp and Roll. A Local Charity I Support: Possibility Project Charlotte My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: I don’t have one. I use it to connect with friends to see if there is a way I can help them or if it is their birthday. What Inspires Me: Filling bellies to create mo-ments of love and connection. My Top 3 On Spotify: John Brown’s Body, Outkast, and Bob Marley.
CARTER AND AVEESH SINGH of WOMAN SHOPS WORLD
My Words of Advice: Keep doing your thing and the success will follow. A Local Charity I Support: The Conscious Kid. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @twineandtwigstyle. Their feed always reminds me torelax and enjoy life… in style! What Inspires Me: I see color combinations in the wild and get ideas off of that, then have to go turn that color story into something. My Top 3 On Spotify: Trevor Hall, Eklo, and Guts.
ROXY TE OWENS of SOCIETY SOCIAL
My Words of Advice: Stay in the moment, enjoy the ride, and trust your journey! A Local Charity I Support: The Birthday Project. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: I’m constantly following local businesses asa way of putting them on my “to eat” list! What Inspires Me: Obviously travel has been more of a challenge here lately, and I have been turning to Instagram, design books (oh how I love a good design book) and last, but not least, my daughter, Austen! My Top 3 On Spotify: Khalid American Teen, The Obamas 2019 Summer Playlist, and Lana Del Rey.
CAROLINE ELLIOTT of CLT STRONG
My Words of Advice: I would tell myself not to waste my potential — Nelson Mandela once said that “There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Living small is no way to live! A Local Charity I Support: I’m a big fan of the Novant Health Foundation My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @glorydaysapparel What Inspires Me: Helping people! I am inspired by making life easier for other people. Fixing a problem sparks my creativity. My Top 3 On Spotify:Oh, now we’re getting personal! Chris Sta-pleton, Maggie Rogers, and Dixie Chicks.
PAM STOWE – STYLE ICON AND PHILANTHROPIST
My Words of Advice: Be yourself! Wear exactly what YOU like, with joy! Smile at everyone. Give compliments and hugs freely. Walk into every room like you own it and you will! A Local Charity I Support: Stand for Animals My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow @thequeencitystyle What Inspires Me: Being around other creative people! My Top 3 On Spotify: Oh, dear- I don’t listen to much music. I’m constantly listening to books on audible.com or to NPR.
IRINA TOSHKOVA of TOSHKOVA FINE ART ADVISORY
My Words of Advice: Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart, live fearlessly in the question. A Local Charity I Support: The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow@thequeencitystyle What Inspires Me: I am deeply inspired by people who will stop at nothing to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. My Top 3 On Spotify: Helado Negro, Snoh Aalegra, and Blackcoffee.
RIAN HARRIS of RIAN HARRIS YOGA
My Words of Advice: Be more active on social media. Even though you don’t like it, there’s still value in using it. A Local Charity I Support: The Dream Center. You can get more info at cltdc.org My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @nicheculturedflow What Inspires Me: Doing what I love. My Top 3 On Spotify: Lil Baby, Drake, and Louis The Child.
NESHA PAI of PAI CPA
My Words of Advice: To stay true to who I am, and not try to fit into what others think I should be. A Local Charity I Support: Carolina Breast Friends My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @qcexclusive, of course! What Inspires Me: It can be an image, or a conversation with someone that exposes a need. I have always been inspired by beautiful things and people. My Top 3 On Spotify: For King & Country, Goo Goo Dolls, and Drake.
COLLIER BARKSDALE – FASHION, ART, DESIGN
My Words of Advice: Be true to yourself, and people will love you for who you are. A Local Charity I Support: Levine Children’s Hospital. I was involved in a traumatic pedestrian motor accident my sophomore year of high-school and LCH saved my life. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow:@kkbloomboutique What Inspires Me: I find it in the little things. My Top 3 On Spotify: The Chicks, DaBaby, and Frank Ocean.
JAN CORRELL of SILVER IS THE NEW BLONDE
My Words of Advice: Believe in all those crazy ideas you dream up and make them happen. A Local Charity I Support: Dress for Success for all the women and families they help. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @napoletanoart What Inspires Me: Knowing that my creativity inspires others. For example; the New York Times found me and featured me. I would have never, ever imagined this.
TIFFANY DONOVAN of CONFETTI CASTLE
My Words of Advice: Do not be afraid to just be who you are. A Local Charity I Support: Safe Alliance. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow:I love @Mirandainclt What Inspires Me: Other women in business. Their passion and drive inspires me. My Top 3 On Spotify: Lots of wedding songs because I’m getting married next month, Justin Timberlake, and 90s Hip Hop.
TAMU CURTIS of LIBERATE YOUR PALATE
My Words of Advice: Be confident in your value and talents when negotiating contracts. A Local Charity I Support: The Sandbox. This organization works with families of children with cancer and life-altering diseases. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow @bellybalia and @liberateyourpalate, of course. What Inspires Me: Boredom. My Top 3 On Spotify: I listen to playlists. Top three genres would be Hip Hop/Rap, 90’s R&B, and House.
BRUCE JULIAN of BRUCE JULIAN CLOTHIER
My Words of Advice: Stay the course… you are on it. A Local Charity I Support: Drums for Cures My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow:@revolutionclothiers What Inspires Me: Insomnia My Top 3 On Spotify: Tyler Childers, Sturgill Simpson, Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts
TIERANY GRIFFIN, KYLE MURRAY, and DAVITA GALLOWAY of DUPP & SWAT
My Words of Advice: You have to be just as diligent about your self-care-me-time as you are about your professional appointments. A Local Charity I Support: Crownkeepers My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @ourbrickhousestyle @studiocultivate What Inspires Me: My experiences maneuvering this lifetime as a black woman, but also my inner inclinations and nudges to do and purge. My Top 3 On Spotify: Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, India.Arie
My Words of Advice: The number one piece of advice I would give myself would be to tap in. Tap in to your growth, your healing, your strength and your dopeness. The rest will fall into place. A Local Charity I Support: Hope for Harvest and Crownkeepers presented by Dupp & Swat
My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: I love the creative outlets like @charlotteiscreative and the food trucks. What Inspires Me: There is not just one thing. I draw inspiration from just breathing and living everyday. I pay close attention to my feelings and responses to them. My Top 3 On Spotify: I don’t listen to many bands, but the top artists would be UGK, Jeezy, and The Notorious BIG. I also rock with other genres like No Doubt, Whitney Houston, Brandy, and Chris Stapleton.
My Words of Advice: Work to fund your dreams and never give up on them. A Local Charity I Support: My life revolves around philanthropic efforts which makes it hard to choose: GardHouse, Stilettos Boss University, Crown Keepers, and my current labor of love, Hope for Harvest. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: @_joelbaang What Inspires Me: I recently lost my Grandmother Lois Murray on Mother’s Day. Though she is not here in the physical, she was and still is my greatest source of inspiration. During my current journey, she has sparked my creativity in a much needed way that will fuel me and my efforts forever. My Top 3 On Spotify: If someone were to look at my most recently played artist, they would see I have a lot of love for female R&B and pop artists: Brandy’s ‘B7’, Lion King ‘The Gift’, and Kaytranada are currently in heavy rotation.
LYDIA LUNDGREN – COSTUME CREATIVE
My Words of Advice: Don’t waste energy trying to fit where you don’t; the perfect fit is out there. A Local Charity I Support: I love Speak Up Magazine because it gives people experiencing homelessness tools to tell their story while creating income. My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow@wildsagemama: her feed’s full of flowers, kittens, family jam sessions and kids running free in the woods. What Inspires Me: Color. Whether in nature, art, or evenplaces like underground parking lots —vivid colors always ignite my imagination. My Top 3 On Spotify: Alt-J, LSD (Labrynth, Sia, Diplo), Gun.
GRAZIA WALKER of GRAZIA GOURMET
My Words of Advice: Follow your instinct. Do not care what people think. A Local Charity I Support: Second Harvest Food Bank Metrolina My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: No one. What Inspires Me: My love for teaching makes me write children’s books. My Top 3 On Spotify:The Rolling Stones, Queen, and The Beatles.
LORI SHAW of Renaissance Periodization
My Words of Advice: Really and truly – don’t sweat the small stuff! A Local Charity I Support: Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I was diagnosed in January and just completed treatment My Favorite Charlotte Instagram To Follow: I love @lindseyreganthornre — she’s like your most fun mom friend with ALL the insider beauty tips! What Inspires Me: Teaching people how to make healthy foods that taste amazing. My Top 3 On Spotify: The Beatles, Kelly Clarkson, and anything 90’s country.