Tiffany Chou’s Maui roots inspire her global jewelry, swim, and apparel collections


Jason Ross Savage

Seabury Hall alumna Tiffany Chou’s success as a jewelry and fashion designer is rooted from her experiences as a teenager growing up on Maui.

Seabury graduate Tiffany Chou successfully established herself in the working world by launching her own jewelry, swim, and apparel collections. Her success is rooted from her experiences as a teenager, when she created her own jewelry and clothing piece while growing up on Maui.

Born in South Korea, Chou was adopted at three months and brought to Maui by her new parents. Chou attended Montessori School for her elementary school education, then attended Clearview Middle School for middle school, then Seabury Hall for high school. Chou graduated from Seabury Hall in 2004.

At Seabury, she explored her creating abilities by making jewelry and by making her own clothing. “I got my first sewing machine when I was a freshman, and I went through this phase where I got five yards of this red fabric and I tried to make a new outfit to wear to school every day for a month until I ran out of fabric.”

After high school she was sure she wanted to explore the creative arts, and enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago. There, her creative abilities flourished, and she began to establish herself.

“I went to the school of the Art Institute of Chicago. For me, when assignments like homework would be assigned, for example sewing, it kind of makes it less interesting for me. What I liked about that school is you don’t have to pick a major, so you can take all types of classes. I took sculpture, painting, some fashion classes, material studies, which I found to be the most interesting thing.”

For her senior project in college, she designed a line of swimwear, which she enjoyed and desired to continue and expand. After college, she decided that if she wanted to be involved in the fashion industry, then she should move to the center of fashion design and production: New York City.

“I started working for a trim company and was hand beading, because I took a material studies class in college and one of the things I really enjoyed was doing hand bead work. I applied to a job on Craigslist doing hand bead work, and I was making hand beaded samples for Ralph Lauren and then they would send it to China and have it made for a fraction of the cost. Then that company purchased a metal casting company and I had been carrying all my sea shells with me and I gave them to the guy who was running the metal casting and I said, ‘Oh, maybe these would be cool.’”

Chou’s experience as a jewelry designer started when she was in high school. “I always made jewelry as a hobby and I actually ended up selling it when I was in high school to my mom’s hair salon and in college I sold it, but I never took it too seriously thinking that I was going to be a jewelry designer, which is becoming I guess, me,” she said.

Her business goals now involve starting a fine jewelry line. The line would differ from her current pieces by being created with finer materials. “I’m starting a small fine jewelry line. I’m testing it out. I’ve done a few fine jewelry pieces for some custom orders. I just got a shipment of small diamonds in, and I was sorting through those, but I don’t know anything about diamonds. Most of my jewelry is delicate and dainty, so I think it will translate well into the fine jewelry market,” she said.

Outside of work, Chou is a part of an organization where she trains with adults with mental and physical disabilities for extreme races and challenges. She hopes one day she will be able to compete in an Iron Man race.

“One of my younger brothers is autistic, and while I was at Seabury, I started a nonprofit for kids with disabilities. They’d come to Seabury, and we’d do art projects with them. Then I started volunteering for an organization here called Achilles, where adults primarily, with a whole range of disabilities train with volunteers for all kinds of marathons, triathlons, the Iron Man and other races,” she said.

Also, Chou is involved in an improv comedy group where she develops her improvising skills, which she says help her when pitching herself and her products to companies.

From writing papers at Seabury Hall to designing jewelry and living in the excitement of New York City, Chou has imbued her life and creations with beauty, humility, and femininity.