return to Moxie

Author's wife set to co-host NECN show: Toothsome designer eyes tv

By Frank Quaratiello
Boston Herald Publication
Date: Tuesday, September 8 2009

Sep. 8--Tonya Chen Mezrich will start competing for the spotlight with her best-selling author husband, Ben, tomorrow as she kicks off a TV career as co-host of NECN's new lifestyle show, "styleboston."

But over the last few years, Mezrich, who frequently appears in the city's society pages, has been more than just a fixture on the Hub social scene.

She came to the Hub from Louisiana to attend Tufts University and then Tufts Dental School. She practiced dentistry for several years, but recently headed in another direction. It turns out that the fine motor skills she honed in dental school had another application: fashioning jewelry out of metal and gems.

"Jewelry seemed to be an easy, natural fit since I already had the skills from dental school," said Mezrich, who uses her tools from studying dentistry to handcraft her jewelry pieces.

She admits she succumbed to family pressure to become a dentist (she's still licensed, so open wide), but she always felt drawn to more creative pursuits.

She began making and selling jewelry about three years ago with a collection of easy-to-wear, convertible pieces -- long necklaces that could be converted to bracelets, chokers or even belts. She estimates she sold a few hundred pieces with prices ranging from $60 for earrings to $300 for necklaces.

Then, she took a break to help her husband promote the movie "21," based on his book "Bringing Down the House." (Justin Timberlake just signed on to star in "The Social Network," the film adaptation of hubby Ben's latest book, "The Accidental Billionaires," which chronicles the early days of Facebook.)

Now, Mezrich's back in Hub boutiques with what she's calling her Paris collection because each piece includes at least one item she picked up at flea markets on a recent trip to France.

"They are weighty, fashion-forward, playing with the ideas of hard and soft, feminine and masculine," said Karen Fabbri, owner of the Beacon Hill boutique Moxie, about Mezrich's latest line. "Her Paris pieces speak of high fashion, runways and confident ladies with attitude."

They also speak of women with lots of money to spend. Prices for the current pieces range from $100 to $800, an increase Mezrich pegs to the cost of materials.

Despite the price tag, Fabbri said they have been selling well. "Her necklaces have been very popular. We sold four out of seven in the first few weeks," she said.

Mezrich said she spends a lot of time coming up with ideas for jewelry designs -- even sketching them on the back of her husband's manuscripts.

On Thursday, her jewelry is set to be featured during Fashion Week's Michael De Paulo show at the Taj Hotel. She is also working on an Estate Collection and possibly looking to hire someone as the business grows.

And watch out, she's interested in designing clothes next.

In addition to Moxie, Mezrich's jewelry can be found at Hub boutiques such as Stil and Serenella.

Don't be surprised if you see a one-of-a-kind necklace around her neck as she anchors the fashion segment of "styleboston" or custom earrings on the show's founder and co-host Terri Stanley, because Mezrich says she likes to "test-drive" her creations. "

She is her own best model for her pieces," Fabbri said. "And she is the kindest, most fashionable person I know."

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