Living the life that dreams are made of is Tarina Tarantino.
From the Barbie Dream House to The Sparkle Factory, a place that nurtures imagination is precious in any form. When she was born, her parents told her that her eyes sparkled with blue diamonds. At an early age, she observed magical powers in the reflected lights of her grandmotherâ€™s 1970s cocktail rings. Tarina has always held a love for the enchanted.
With a background in modeling, make-up artistry, and jewelry design, it was the love of her life Alfonso Campos, now president of the company, who encouraged Tarina to sell her lines. Today, working with toy producers from Mattel to Kid Robot, the Los Angeles nativeâ€™s playful yet visionary designs have held mass popularity within a minority market of toy collectors. With a gorgeous figure, pink hair, true love, and the perfect life, if Barbie were a real person, would she be Tarina Tarantino?
“The Sparkle Factory is where dreams come true, and where I dream up all of my sparkling designs.”
Format: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Tarina Tarantino: Tarina Tarantino. Designer. Daydreamer. Sparkle girl.
Format: What is your background in design?
Tarina Tarantino: My first career was as a model. I lived and worked in Europe. It was the early 90s and I was inspired to start designing jewelry collections while I was living in Paris. It was something that I did since I was a child. I would make one of a kind pieces until I got my first big order and realized you canâ€™t make any money doing one-offs. Thatâ€™s when the business started.
Format: In 2002, you were invited by Japanese toy giant Sanrio to makeover toy icon, Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty Pink Head (with pink hair) was the result. How did you come up with this concept?
Tarina Tarantino: It was easy. I loved Kitty since I was a child and was really interested in doing something new with her. I had this crazy idea; what if Kitty was as obsessed with me as I was with her? So I restyled her with that in mind. Hello Kitty Pink Head was born.
Format: How did you become involved with Kid Robot?
Tarina Tarantino: I met Paul Budnitz not knowing that he was a fan of my designs. And he didnâ€™t know that I had a shelf full of his toys in my office. Itâ€™s another collaboration that is organic because I love Kid Robot. He invited me to design a line of jewelry, to give the Kid Robot girls something else they could wear. Toys are a big inspiration for my collections, so it was a match made in fantastic plastic heaven.
Format: Tell us about the Kid Robot Munny Pearl Necklace for Fall 2008.
Tarina Tarantino: Itâ€™s so luxurious and over the top. It is a piece that is meant more to be displayed than worn. It was inspired by those really big blinged-out necklaces that you see in hip-hop culture. Only this version is the opposite extreme, and ultra girly and glamorous.
Format: What is â€œThe Sparkle Factoryâ€?
Tarina Tarantino: This is where all of our collections are conceived and created. Itâ€™s in downtown LA. Everything is made in the USA and an important part of what we do. The Sparkle Factory is where dreams come true, and where I dream up all of my sparkling designs.
Format: Please tell us about the angry bunnies smoking cigarettes earrings.
Tarina Tarantino: Frank Kozik is a genius and I jumped at the chance to work with him. His Mustache Hearts are my other favorites in the collection.
Format: You work with your husband and partner Alfonso Campos. How did this working relationship come about?
Tarina Tarantino: It was natural. He loved my work and inspired me to follow my dreams. He is amazingly creative and we love all the same stuff. We inspire each other and have the same vision for the brand. Now we have two daughters, two dogs, and an incredible team at the Sparkle Factory. It is an amazing life.
Format: You designed a Barbie doll that was inspired by â€œa day in the lifeâ€ of Tarina Tarantino. Please describe a day in your life.
Tarina Tarantino: Chloe and Olivia usually wake us upâ€¦tapping on my head. Mornings at home are usually pretty crazy: we have school for the girls and we go to the Sparkle Factory every day. When I get to my office I usually spend about fifteen minutes just looking at books and having some green tea. I am crazy for books and buy tons and tons. I have a library in my office. Itâ€™s where I find inspiration for my collections. Then the craziness begins: meetings with design, meetings with managers, meetings, meetings, meetings. Lunch is usually at Tiara CafÃ© down the street. After lunch I catch up on emails and then head to the design room to work on collections with my team. We get home around 7:30 and play with the girls in the backyard until bedtime. Alfonso and I donâ€™t talk business at home; we usually watch a movie from the â€˜60s like Le Contempt or Once Upon a Time in the West Then itâ€™s (none of your business) and sleep!! Never enough sleepâ€¦
Format: How has it been working with Mattel?
Tarina Tarantino: Amazing. I love Barbie and creating the doll and jewelry collections was an amazing process. I love the doll; she is exactly what I dreamed of.
Format: Please tell us about the Pink Plastic Party.
Tarina Tarantino: We built a Tarina Barbie Dream house, and all of my sparkling friends were there. It was a perfect night!
Format: Paul Budnitz, president of Kid Robot said that your jewelry rules: â€œSheâ€™s a great artist, and her unique styleâ€“bright, vivid, glittering colors and fun designsâ€“match Kid Robot exactly.â€ How does this make you feel?
Tarina Tarantino: Itâ€™s so cool. Itâ€™s really mutual and been so fun working on the collections.
Format: The collection will be debuting on July 31, 2008. What do you predict that the reaction will be from the public?
Tarina Tarantino: The early reaction is amazing. I was just in Japan on my Pink Plastic Barbie doll tour. I wore the Kid Robot prototypes to see if anyone would notice. People were literally trying to buy them off of my neck everywhere I went. I believe that if itâ€™s a hit in Japan the rest of the world will follow. I love the collection and so does Paul and that makes me feel very confident about it.
Format: Will you be doing further collaborations with Kid Robot in the near future? If so, what are they?
Tarina Tarantino: Yes the collections are ongoing and will come out two times a year, or more if possible.