Alumnae Trio Find Success with Tinsel & Twine

Left to right: Adette

Left to right: Adette Contreras, Liz Castelli and Erica Taylor are the founding partners of NYC’s Tinsel & Twine.  Photo by Amber Gress.

A typical day for the [much buzzed about] Brooklyn-based event design shop Tinsel & Twine is anything but typical, says communications director Erica Taylor, CCAS BA ’06.

That’s because the company creates a signature style for each client and event, from floral styling to custom stationery and signage, to lighting installation, prop coordination and event planning.

But creativity comes naturally to the GW trio behind Tinsel & Twine, which, in addition to Taylor, includes production director Liz Castelli, CCAS BS ’05, and creative director Adette Contreras, GWSB BBA ’06.

The women were brought together as students through the GW Vibes, a student-run a cappella group.  Contreras and Taylor had been singing with the group for a year when they recruited Castelli.

Their years at GW kept them close and they stayed in touch after graduation.  When they all found themselves living in New York City, they often held happy hour get-togethers after work.

During one such gathering in 2010, the trio chatted about their careers and discovered they each longed for that creative spark they had shared at GW.

Castelli had recently gotten married and shared that the experience made her want to create unique and beautiful events for a living.  And thus, Tinsel & Twine was born.

Three years later, Tinsel & Twine has quickly become a creative powerhouse, drawing attention from the likes of Daily Candy, Refinery29 and New York Magazine, among others.

The company now operates out of a studio in Brooklyn’s hip Dumbo neighborhood, where they meet with clients and assemble their designs.

“The reason we’re really clicking with people is because we’re untraditional,” explains Taylor. “We had one client who was really into taxidermy.  So, one day we were all running around looking for preserved animals and antlers. On the other hand, over the last quarter or two we’ve gotten more corporate clients. So it’s really important to be flexible!”

What also helps the business thrive is the strong bond shared by Castelli, Contreras and Taylor.

“I’m very lucky that I work with two of my best friends,” says Taylor.  “Even when we’re working crazy hours, it feels like play.”

Tinsel & Twine extends that sense of friendship to its clientele—in several cases, former clients have become part of the company’s “team of angels,” a trusted network of colleagues and friends who help support large events and productions.

Castelli, Contreras and Taylor hope to hire two additional full-time staff members in the next few years as they continue to grow and expand their client base.

With a long list of fans and admirers, Taylor says the founding partners are often approached for career advice from aspiring entrepreneurs—many of them young women.

“There’s really a level of encouragement in seeing other women pursuing similar dreams,” Taylor says. “We hope women—especially women of color—will look to us for inspiration. I always tell people that if they have any kernel of interest in owning a business, they should pursue it.”

Taylor also advises people to be thoughtful about the elbow grease that goes into running a business.

“Becoming an entrepreneur is not just the fun part. There are a lot of things, like trademarks, business insurance and taxes to consider,” Taylor says.  “People don’t love to talk about it but you need to do your homework!”

Doing their homework has certainly paid off for Castelli, Contreras and Taylor, who are excited to see where Tinsel & Twine takes them next.

“There’s no guidebook to being an entrepreneur,” says Taylor.  “But I can’t imagine doing anything different.”

-Melissa Nyman

Thanks very much to Erica Taylor and Tinsel & Twine for sharing this story with us! To learn more about the company, visit their website, and be sure to follow them for updates and sneak peeks: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter. And be sure to check out the gallery below for a glimpse of Tinsel & Twine’s work!

Click on any image to enlarge

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