Laura Byrne, founder of ToniMay
Just over a year and a half ago, she won Matty J's heart on The Bachelor but Laura Byrne is so much more than a reality TV star. A successful jewellery designer and Cosmopolitan's Fashion Designer of the Year for 2018, Laura Byrne has a whole lot going on.
She Does This caught up with Laura to chat business, Bachelor and the future of her label, ToniMay.
SDT: Most of our readers will know you for stealing Matty J’s heart on The Bachelor, but ToniMay has been your hustle for almost a decade! What was the inspiration behind the label?
LAURA: I've always loved designing and creating jewellery, during uni it was a hobby that made me a bit of money on the side. About 8 years ago I decided to take the plunge and turn that hobby of mine into my main hustle and that's when ToniMay was born.
ToniMay was really inspired by my love of travel and by the unique gemstones and art I would collect along my journeys, travel is still a huge part of what inspires ToniMay’s designs.
SDT: What were some of the struggles you faced when launching the business?
LAURA: I think one of the biggest struggles I faced was deciding where and how I was going to sell my products. I tried wholesaling and was really burnt in my first season with a number of boutiques not paying their bills.
So I decided to take a retail approach to ToniMay and opened a kiosk store in Westfield to sell direct – That was really when things started to grow.
SDT: You took out the GRAZIA National Design Award in 2012. What advice would you give to designers entering competitions like these who are wanting to stand out from the crowd?
LAURA: The prize for this competition was a month lease in Westfield Sydney CBD. This was a huge turning point in my career and my confidence. If Kelly Hush the then editor of Grazia believed that ToniMay was something special, well I was going to believe it too – so it really gave me the confidence to take the next steps without the fear of failure holding me back.
I truly think these types of “launch your label” competitions are incredibly valuable to young designers starting out, it’s a platform to leap from and it challenges designers to think strategically about ‘what is my brand’ and ‘what is my mission and design ethos’.
SDT: Fashion trends are constantly evolving. How do you stay relevant?
LAURA: I love that ToniMay is not a fad or trend driven brand. I’ve always been passionate about designing jewellery that I love, that I would wear and that I’m really proud of. If you follow fashion trends you will never be the one setting them.
SDT: You recently won Cosmopolitan’s Fashion Designer of the Year. Unfortunately, Cosmo closed their pages recently but what an INSANE achievement! What was that moment of winning like?
LAURA: I was shell shocked, winning Cosmo Woman of the year was just an absolute dream come true and I’m still pinching myself.
I think jewellery often takes a backseat to clothing when we think of the world of fashion design and it was such an amazing acknowledgement that jewellery can sit along side such incredible clothing designers and be noticed.
SDT: I’d be doing our readers a huge injustice if I didn’t ask: how is life going with Matty J?!
LAURA: Ha! He’s the dream. Life is so very happy. It’s crazy how much can change in a year in a half.
SDT: Finally, what does the future look like for Laura and TONIMAY?
LAURA: The future is exciting! We only recently opened ourselves up to wholesaling, and part of that is looking to expand our wholesaling distribution. We also recently launched our finery and engagement range, and this is something that has so much potential for growth, which gets me really excited. I love being involved in the design and creation of a couple’s engagement rings – it’s such a special and happy part of life to be involved in.