In an exclusive interview with Monaco Life, top Australian showjumper Edwina Tops-Alexander tells of how her “heart horse” inspired a transformative journey into the world of luxury jewellery and the creation of her very own brand, TOTI.
Sydney native Edwina, who now lives in Monaco, is a well-respected international and Olympic showjumper with an illustrious career that shows no sign of stopping any time soon.
At the age of 49, she has her sights set on competing at the 2024 Paris Games and mostly recently competed in the Principality at the globally recognised Longines Global Champions Tour 2023 on horses Fellow Castlefield and Catenda.
It is another noble steed, however, that provided the inspiration for Edwina’s other great passion: jewellery.
Itot, the ‘heart horse’ behind the brand
“Winning the Grand Prix in 2009, I was up against the world’s best horses,” she tells Monaco Life. “Most of my victories were with my heart horse.”
That ‘heart horse’, a term used by the equestrian community to represent a profoundly deep and special connection between a horse and its rider, was Itot. Initially underestimated because of his smaller stature and scars, he and Edwina came together to achieve remarkable triumphs, and the horse has greatly inspired the ethos behind Edwina’s jewellery designs.
When Edwina launched TOTI in 2022, she had noticed a gap in the market. This spurred her on to embark on a venture that would combine her appreciation for fashion and horses.
“There is not a lot of nice equestrian jewellery out there, so why not try to penetrate this market?” she says.
The result is a brand that pays homage to a rich equestrian heritage and culture as well as exquisite craftsmanship and a range of jewellery both elegant and timeless in its style.
The values of “confidence, challenge and connection”
Edwina describes TOTI’s designs as an encapsulation of the values of “confidence, challenge and connection”. These are principles, she says, “are how I shaped my career,” and are intricately woven into her pieces, such as the TOTI Challenge diamond bangle and the Cord bangle.
Emphasising the importance of quality to the TOTI line, Edwina proudly states, “Everything is made in Italy, so it’s good and lasting quality.”
She reflects on the swift growth of her brand with a sense of pride and accomplishment: “Personally, for me, the brand has developed very quickly in a short time. It’s something else that I have achieved as it’s a different angle in my career.”
TOTI is also a platform for philanthropy and environmental consciousness as a portions of its proceeds go to the ITOT Foundation for equine therapy.
“The results it gives back are extraordinary. I am very happy to be associated with such a foundation,” Edwina passionately shares.
Monaco: a fountain of inspiration
Living in Monaco has greatly influenced Edwina’s creative process for TOTI as she finds inspiration in the beauty and elegance of the Principality.
“Monaco is beautiful, it inspired me and has given me a lot of ideas,” she tells Monaco Life.
It has also enhanced her sense of creating something relatable, attainable and inclusive: “The brand has different levels, everyone can afford it,” she remarks.
Moving beyond conventional equestrian motifs like horseshoes, she draws on the local fashion and jewellery trends in Monaco to shape her designs, ensuring they resonate with contemporary tastes and preferences. Being sustainable has also proven important to her customers here and recycled materials are often used in TOTI’s pieces.
Future aspirations for TOTI
Edwina hopes to further build TOTI’s portfolio with the introduction of an accessory line and a move into retail spaces. At the heart of TOTI’s ethos is the power of narrative in design.
“People buy for different reasons, but I want them to understand the story,” Edwina stresses, underlining her aim for customers to connect with the deep equestrian legacy and personal inspirations infused in every TOTI jewellery piece.
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Main photo credit: Lena Saugen Photography