Q&A with Toni and Nikki

How & Why did you start Tonic?

We have been friends for years, we met on the beach at 14 whilst holidaying with our families.  We had the same necklace on…   Our friendship was formed over accessories, and here we are today creating a range of accessories together.  Our friendship was instant and has lasted all this time.

We started Tonic 27 years ago, we were both interested in starting our own business, Nikki had a background as a buyer at Sportsgirl, Toni was in wholesale sales & development at innovative fashion brand, Metallicus.  We had complimentary skills & decided to just do it.  We wrote a business plan at a kitchen table, and Tonic was born. 

The name Tonic is a combination of our two names; Toni & Nikki – Tonic.

How has the business evolved?

We Initially started Tonic as a Product development business, which we had a lot of success with. However, we wanted to create products that we loved.  We started with a few products & it has grown from there.

What are you most proud of?

We are a proudly Australian brand that has become known globally for creating beautiful lifestyle products.   We have become a go-to brand for giving beautiful gifts to self & giving gifts to others. 

How do you find new inspiration?

We look at designer trends in fashion, homewares & accessories.   We are inspired by the environment & the seasons, we are known for our floral designs, we are inspired by what we see in nature & we bring this to our design process.   

What is your design process?

Our focus is on our customer, we have done a lot of research on our customer & we always think of her when we create our ranges.

We develop two major collections a year, a Summer & Winter Collection along with smaller capsule collections featuring limited edition floral prints.   

Just like fashion there is a seasonality to colours, materials & prints we work with.  For example, we launched a stunning range of velvet heat pillows, eye masks, jewellery cubes & cosmetic pouches for Winter.  Where for Summer our new range POP & was a vibrant range of vegan leather accessories in 10 beautiful bright colours.  The range includes jewellery wraps & cubes, pencil cases & coin purses.

We always look at designer trends in fashion & accessories, but we are not slaves to trends & neither is our customer.  They appreciate quality, but they do not believe that only comes from designer products & price points.

We don’t look back, but we think about what has worked & why, & how we can improve.

Our aim is always to give our customers beautiful, quality products at a great price point.

What is your favourite product? / Why?

Nikki – Tonic’s Heat Pillow.  It is created with stunning Australian botanicals. It is a beautiful gift to give & receive.  The Heat Pillow gives comfort & is nurturing, whilst being beautiful. Tonic have become known for the Heat Pillow which is such a great achievement & personally, I couldn’t live without one!

Toni – Tonic’s Jewellery Cube.  I am so proud of the original design-concept, we knew it was a good idea & we kept refining it until we created the design you see today. We are really proud of the level of detail that went into creating the Jewellery Cube, which has a worldwide registered design.

This Jewellery Cube has captured the imagination of the consumer. It has a place for everything & is perfect for anyone looking for a jewellery storage solution.

What is your best-selling product?

Well funnily enough, they are our favourite products, the Heat Pillow & the Jewellery Cube.

What is your favourite Travel destination?  

We are so lucky to be able to travel for work.  We show our range at a number of international fairs, and we aim to visit at least one of the major international trade fairs each year.  Last year we went to Maison d’objet in Paris and we also travelled to Prague.

But our favourite destinations are right on our doorstep….

Toni, “I am happiest on any of beautiful Australian beaches.  Whether it’s walking along a city beach which I try to do most days, or relaxing with a book, or having fun with friends & family.  I am always happiest by the water.”

Nikki, “I love the Mornington Peninsula; specifically, the regions around Red Hill.  It is only 45 minutes from town, but you are in the country with open spaces, wineries, wildlife & some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches surrounding you.”

How do you engage in social responsibility?

The Environment

We think about our environmental footprint in everything we do, from initial design, the materials we use, the factories we work with, through to packaging & distribution.   We are not perfect, but we are improving with every decision and new product we make.

Charitable Work

We are involved in a number of charitable pursuits, whether it be at a very local / grass roots level through to a number of charities we support through financial and volunteer work. Toni is particularly involved with a major hospital & Nikki volunteers weekly at a museum.

OFF YOUR BACK - Twelve years ago, after seeing homeless people on a cold winter’s night, we created a charity called OFF YOUR BACK. We ask people to donate coats they no longer need or love and we pass them onto the homeless.  Over 90,000 coats have been passed on to help keep a homeless person warm in winter. 

What is next for Tonic?

We are constantly working on new ranges.  We invest so much of ourselves into our designs, but I must admit we do get excited for the next thing! 

We are currently working on two beautiful new floral prints (that have been hand painted by a local illustrator, Ellen Walsh) the whole team is really excited about this gorgeous new range.  

After 27 years, we are more discerning in our design process.   As mentioned, we have worked hard to get to know our customer & we have learnt to think of the Tonic customer and create products our customer will love.