When Tsao Hui-chi (曹惠淇) was a teenager, she didn’t get to see her two sisters often.
“I left home to study in middle school, so we really treasured the time we had with each other,” Tsao says.
Now the trio spend plenty of time together as the creators of jewelry and clothing brand Georgia Tsao. Named after Lady Georgie (喬琪姑娘), one of their favorite childhood cartoons, the company specializes in playful sterling silver designs and recently opened a flagship boutique near Shida night market.
Tsao Hui-chi, who completed her graduate studies at the Birmingham School of Jewellery in England, is responsible for creating the brand’s jewelry, while her sisters take care of marketing and managing Georgia Tsao’s three stores. Older sister Tsao Hui-chun (曹惠鈞) earned an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, while youngest sister Tsao Chiao-ling (曹巧鈴) has a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Westminster in London.
The Tsao sisters’ parents hoped that their daughters would join them in the family’s health food business, but Tsao Hui-chi had other ideas.
“I had a design degree and I wasn’t really interested in working there. I thought, ‘Why not create a jewelry brand instead?’” she says.
With an initial investment from their parents, the sisters launched Georgia Tsao in 2005 and began selling their sterling silver jewelry online and at events like Campo, TK Rock (台客搖滾) and Simple Life Festival (簡單生活節).
Their first piece was a pendant shaped like a Viking helmet with a tiny heart on the crown. The design is now Georgia Tsao’s logo.
“It reflects our brand philosophy. Our target customers are independent, courageous women. I thought, why not make a Viking helmet and place a small heart on it to make it cuter? It symbolizes bravery and love,” Tsao Hui-chi says.
WHAT: Georgia Tsao
WHERE: Shida flagship store: 26-2, Ln 50, Taishun St, Taipei City (台北市泰順街50巷26-2號); ‘0416 T-Shirt Shop at 16 Workshops (16工房): Red House Theater (西門紅樓), 10 Chengdu Rd, Taipei City (台北市成都路10號); Banciao Global Mall location (板橋環球購物中心): 7, Sianmin Bld Sec 2, Banciao City, Taipei County (Banciao Train Station 2F) (台北縣縣民大道二段7號(板橋車站2樓))
OPENING HOURS: Shida flagship store is open Wednesday to Sunday from 3pm to 10pm (appointments for off-hours are available); 16 Workshops store opens from 2pm to 9:30pm Tuesday to Sunday, closed Monday; Banciao Global Mall location is open Sunday to Thursday from 11am to 10pm and Friday to Saturday from 11am to 11:30pm
TELEPHONE: Shida flagship store: (02) 2365-6760; 16 Workshops store: (02) 2314-0073; Banciao Global Mall location: (02) 8969-9888 (mall service hotline)
On the Net: blog.georgiatsao.com
In 2008, the sisters opened their first store in Red House’s 16 Workshops (16工房). Two more locations opened earlier this year: a jewelry shop in Banciao Global Mall (板橋環球購物中心) and their flagship boutique.
The latter is decorated with vintage items, including 1960s wooden hangers stamped with the logos of clothing stores that once operated in Yuanlin (員林), a Changhua County township where the sisters’ parents live; refurbished jewelry display cases; a vintage stereo console from their aunt; and a trestle sewing machine from Tsao Hui-chi’s landlord.
To cultivate customer interest, the Tsao sisters unveil new designs every month. Many of Tsao Hui-chi’s creations are inspired by word play and visual puns. One pendant is shaped like a tiny steamed bun: The Mandarin word for “bun” (包) is a homonym for “hug.” A sterling silver coffee bean reminds wearers to take a break, while a series of pendants is based on stars that a person might draw next to items in their notes.
“You use it to mark something important or valuable. The meaning of the pendant is to remember to value yourself,” Tsao Hui-chi says.
Other best-selling designs include infinity pendants that can be worn horizontally or vertically to look like the number eight, which symbolizes prosperity in Chinese culture.
The Tsao sisters launched a clothing line in June when they opened their flagship store, which is much larger than their space in 16 Workshops. “We thought if we only sold jewelry, it would look sparse,” Tsao Hui-chi says.