Handmade in Queens: The Flower Tiki custom pin-up hair accessories!

13 06 2011

Joanna Trumino is a kickass Queens gal with a craft you should absolutely check out if you’re into spicing up your outfits with vintage flair. She’s the artist behind The Flower Tiki‘s custom 50s, pin-up, and burlesque hair accessories! Not only are they gorgeous and reasonably priced, each one is handmade by a lady with a serious attention to detail and a genuine love for the classy, sassy culture of days gone by.

We caught up with Joanna to find out more about her style icons and influences, love for Queens, favorite things, and how she started making the fab flowers that now grace the locks of punks and pin-ups alike!

What drew you to pin-up culture?
Well since I was a little kid, 8 to 10 years old, I was drawn to 1950’s culture, music, and pin-up art. Anytime I saw a pin-up photo, 1940’s-1960’s advertisements or classic cars, I fell in love ten times more. My first idol was, of course, Marilyn Monroe. Her curvy, daring figure, the innocent, soft-spoken voice (even thought she knew what she was doing), her great beauty and blonde hair. I loved everything about her. Then I learned of the pin-up queen herself, Bettie Page. She is definitely a woman I admire. I am obsessed with her! She is a classic beauty that I have always aspired to be like. I also adore oldies rock and roll more than you can imagine. My SiriusXM radio stations are almost always set to “50’s on 5” or “60’s on 6.” You can probably say I am just infatuated with the classic culture of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and that I was born in the wrong generation. Haha.

When did you start making your hairpieces?
It is a year, this month, since I started making my hairpieces. I started mid June, 2010.

Roughly how long does it take to make a hairpiece and what materials do you use?
Every flower varies when it comes to how long it takes to make one. Some flowers take five minutes to make and others could take close to an hour. It also depends on what kind of vision or image I have in my head for the piece. Sometimes it’s very simple and other times I want to make a flamboyant, over the top piece which takes time to prepare and mold together.

Sometimes I use green materials, but those are for customers who ask for it specially. I have had to do a lot of extra research on which of my materials I have purchased or need to purchase that are cruelty-free. Unfortunately, it is difficult to track down some manufacturers and carriers of my materials to get a straight answer. However, I was successful in finding out which companies use cruelty-free items and which do not for one of my customers who only uses green and cruelty-free products. So if there are any future customers out there who are only interested in green/cruelty-free hairpieces, you have found the right place!

What’s the best thing that has come out of your business?
The best thing that has come out of my business is the feeling of expressing myself while creating my artwork. I am an artist. I always have been. I like to dabble in many different forms of art. For a while, I felt very uninspired until one day my boyfriend, Michael, and I were discussing my future and what I am capable of. The idea of designing hairpieces had been playing around in my mind for awhile and I brought it up to him. He pushed me to start making some. When I did, I was inspired again and have been enjoying it very much ever since. I believe it has pushed me to move forward in my life and continue to work harder.

Who are some of the most awesome pin-ups/celebs/individuals you’ve worked with?
I have worked with some awesome people so far. In a year, some of the girls I have worked with and been in contact with are internationally known pin-up model Sabina Kelley, California pin-up model Nikki Napalm and reality star Josie Stevens of E! Channel’s “Married To Rock.” Two other up and coming pin-up models I have been happy to work with are Necrofoxx aka Helen Jones and Melis (Cruelty-Free Model) aka Melis Steiner. These beautiful girls, who are both from Texas, have been rocking my hairpieces in several photo shoots and keep coming back for more! I could not ask for two better women to represent The Flower Tiki. To see photos of all of these ladies and more, visit my Etsy store or check out my Facebook fan page and become a fan of The Flower Tiki.

Necrofoxx rockin’ The Flower Tiki, photo by James Cano

Nikki Napalm rockin’ The Flower Tiki, photo by Vestige Photography

Where would you like to see The Flower Tiki go?
I would really love to become better known within the rockabilly, psychobilly and pin-up subculture. I would love to attend more festivals and shows where the scene resides. My hairpieces are for everyone and anyone, but in this subculture, a sexy pin-up hair accessory is essential. I would be thrilled if my pieces became a top brand to buy. I am determined to create that name for myself. I love seeing my handmade accessories in the hair of a rockin’ pin-up gal and I want continue to see that in my future. The most recent festival I will be attending and selling my hairpieces at is in bloom collective‘s mini-festival in Astoria, Queens at Hell Gate Social (Saturday, June 18th starting at 7pm) and I am very excited about it! Check it out!

Who or what are your biggest influences?
I have many influences when it comes to my artwork and style. Obviously, Bettie Page is my number one influence, but aside from classic pin-ups, I am also heavily influenced by modern day pin-ups like Masuimi Max, Bernie Dexter, Micheline Pitt, Dayna Delux and Cherry Dollface. I am also influenced by people I see on the street and some of my own friends. I am also influenced by anything Gwen Stefani does and puts her mind to. I think she is a brilliant figure in music and fashion. I am also influenced by different classic settings. I love everything Polynesian and tropical, which is where “The Flower Tiki”‘s name comes from (my mom also helped me pick it out). And I also love anything nautical and beachy. Obviously you can see I am influenced by many different people and things.

Can you recommend some awesome bands we should listen to?
Well, aside from adoring the pin-up, rockabilly and psychobilly subculture, I will always, in my heart, be a little punk rock chick from Queens, NY. I love classic rock and roll and doo-wop, but since I was 13, I have been all about 1977 punk rock, 80’s hardcore, Oi! and ska. So here’s a mixture of some awesome bands from different genres that I can recommend: New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, Rancid, The Business, Mad Sin, Wanda Jackson, Dead Boys, Agnostic Front, Bad Brains, The Bouncing Souls, Black Flag, The Ramones, Cock Sparrer, The Drifters and The Ronettes. And believe me, I have so much more than that to recommend but I don’t want to go overboard. Ha.

You’re a proud Queens girl – what do you love about living there, and do you have any favorite places?
I realized how proud I was of where I came from after I dated a guy from Patchogue, Long Island for a few months. As someone from Queens or Brooklyn, you are born to hate Long Island – most of the time. And after traveling back and forth, back and forth, and not having anything to do there, I realized that I belong in Queens and I need to stay in Queens. I love everything about New York and I would live in Brooklyn or Manhattan any day, but in the end, I just want to come back to Queens. There is so much diversity and culture here. A person should feel privileged to belong to such a widespread community of people. You can get any food you want in Queens: Chinese, Italian, Indian, Spanish, Israeli, etc. You could be in Greece one minute and then walk into Korea the next, literally. Go walk along Northern Blvd. around Utopia Parkway and Francis Lewis Blvd. for a while, and then come back to me. Some of my favorite spots in Queens are the strip of Italian restaurants in Howard Beach along Cross Bay Blvd. like Lenny’s Clam Bar, Joe Abbracciamento’s and London Lennie’s. I also love Austin St. in Forest Hills. There are some great shops and restaurants there. And of course, the area everyone loves to hate, Bell Blvd. in Bayside. It’s where everyone from the ages of 18 to 30 comes to get drunk. Yes, I said 18. However, there are some great stores over there too.

How would you characterize your own style?
The way I have always characterized my style has been “Punk Rock Pin-up.” I definitely have my own style. I like to mix and match and throw in something wild from time to time. I know what looks good on me and I don’t follow the crowd when it comes to fashion. I love classic attire from the 1940’s and 50’s, as well as clothing from the ’77 punk rock era, the 80’s glam metal years and the 80’s and 90’s scummy street punk attire. Whatever works for me. You own your look, which I do.

Don’t miss The Flower Tiki vending at A Summer Night’s Dream mini-festival in Astoria, Queens this weekend! You can also always catch Joanna on Facebook, Twitter, and of course shop her ever-growing collection anytime on Etsy!

interview by audrey leopard




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