PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARIA PONCE, PONCE PHOTOGRAPHY
CREATIVE DIRECTION BY D. GRAHAM KOSTIC | WRITTEN BY ELLE EICHINGER
There are few things jewelry designer Tonia Kim of Toki Collection hasn’t done. Obtained a law degree? Check. Edited a book? Check. Produced and directed a documentary? Check. Started her own business? Well, you get the idea. Nonetheless, for each endeavor she sets out to accomplish, Tonia pours her entire self into it. Her mix of devotion and passion is the perfect recipe for philanthropic involvement and it’s no surprise that she’s highly involved. “Everyone has a social responsibility to give back in some way,” she says, “whatever his or her passion may be.”
Her own dual passions are animals and education: she works locally with Young at Heart Pet Rescue and One Million Degrees (formerly called the Illinois Education Foundation). She also co-founded Beats NYC with a group of friends in New York; the charity provides creative after school programming for kids in NYC’s underserved communities. But Beats NYC is far from the typical dried-out-paintbrushes type of after school program: it’s teaching breakdancing, music composition on an iPad, and (our personal favorite) beatboxing, which provides for kids with hearing disabilities and similar impairments with an alternative way to communicate. Only someone as cool as Tonia could come up with that—despite her softly neutral Isabel Marant top and laid-back Rag & Bone jeans, we detect a slightly rocker-esque edge. Since learning metalsmithing and bronze casting, Tonia’s jewelry collections have also adopted a harder, edgier feel, but are always balanced out by more delicate pieces. Strangely, Tonia herself is not dripping in jewelry. “They say you’re supposed to be your best model,” she says, “but I really don’t wear a lot of accessories.” She says it with a slight laugh, but who are “they,” anyway? Because Tonia always has—and always will, it’s apparent—written her own set of rules.