To mark this 30th year of the NAJO brand, founder Jo Tory reminisces about where it all began. Here, the seed is sown in a small Mexican village. Stop by again soon for the second and third parts of Jo’s amazing tale.

Feeling young and restless…

It was the early 1980s. I was young, and – as the cliché goes – restless. I had been to art school, dabbled in crafts, studied music and even worked as a backing vocalist. But I guess you could say I hadn’t found my creative calling yet. So, I did as many young Aussies do: I took my backpack and headed overseas.

I’d been away for a couple of years, and when travelling in Greece met a dark-eyed man named Nando (spoiler alert: he became the “Na” in NAJO). Together, we ventured to Mexico.

I’d never been in that part of the world before, but something inside me clicked. I fell in love with Mexico. It was magic. I loved its art, its history and its language. Great design was everywhere, from brightly painted murals on street walls to public sculptures, decorative folk art and heavily patterned rugs and textiles. Artistry was an intrinsic part of Mexican life and it got under my skin.

The spirit of Mexico

Needless to say, I stayed. The next few years were a blur of colour, creative freedom and interesting friends. I lived in a small town in the mountains south of Mexico City called Tepoztlán. I travelled all over the place, down to Guatemala to buy fabrics and textiles, and then all over Mexico to sell them. It was a way of sustaining myself during that time, but it also meant I got to see a lot of the country.

The more I saw of Mexico, the more entranced I became. There were stories around every corner: the gorgeous landscapes, the energetic people, and the bustling vibrancy of the towns.

Struck silver!

Then one day I stumbled upon the silver town of Taxco, a couple of hours away from my home in Tepoztlán. It was a hive of silversmithing, small industrious family workshops and the most beautiful jewellery I’d ever seen. This chance encounter unlocked creative possibilities I hadn’t considered before. 

Love to know what came next for Jo? Part 2 is coming soon! In the meantime, shop our Mexican-inspired silver jewellery and let one of NAJO’s artful designs become part of your personal story.