Dear French readers, you will find below the translation of my article ” Signs of success: Foundrae “, originally published in Rapaport magazine and on the Jewelry Connoiseur website. The American version can be accessed via this link.
Beth Bugdaycay, former head of a women’s fashion house, talks about her inspirations for Foundrae, the symbol-centric jewellery brand she launched in 2015.
Beth Bugdaycay. Photo: Foundrae
Beth Bugdaycay was CEO of women’s clothing brand Rebecca Taylor for nearly two decades before she and her husband started the jewellery company Foundrae in 2015. Their collections draw on a broad lexicon of symbols from different cultures and time periods – such as scarabs, arrows, horseshoes, elements – and the meanings attached to them. Made in New York, their jewellery quickly found customers around the world.
Since founding Foundrae, Bugdaycay says she has achieved a balance. “I feel complete for the first time in my life, that I’ve been able to harmonise my family life, my values and my professional life [in such a way that they feed] into each other, rather than changing each area short.”
Selection of rings from the house of Foundrae. Photo: Foundrae
1- What is your creative process?
I always start with the symbols: it’s the idea I’m trying to communicate, then the form. In terms of the evolution of the lines, I tend to think in terms of maps, maps made up of multiple and complex layers. So at the beginning of each collection, I really try to peel back one of the layers that make up my maps to illuminate it further. Then we have a lot of conversations with the jewellers who are in our workshop, as well as with the skilled craftsmen in the workshops we work with. We discuss how we can achieve the look we are going for before we start.
2- How has your experience in fashion helped you develop the brand?
I think I appreciate the consistent intrinsic value of our raw materials more than many other jewellers. I came from a world where the inventory of clothing had almost lost its total value in just a few months. So for me, the idea of being able to melt gold and reset diamonds is completely liberating. As a result, I feel very comfortable playing with design concepts and melting them down until they are right.
Selection of pendants from Foundrae. Photo: Foundrae
3- What do the diamonds used in your jewellery represent?
I have a deep belief in the power of the symbols we use. I think they speak to a deeper knowledge within ourselves and help us to actualise it. But for the energy of the stones themselves, such as diamonds or other gemstones, I honestly believe that the real power is in the individual. If an individual carries rose quartz in their pockets and thinks about love, then I think they start to act and live with more love, which is a beautiful result. But if someone just put rose quartz in their mattress and forgot about it, I don’t think the stones themselves would give any tangible results.
4- What are your main sources of inspiration?
I often look at Victorian and 70’s styles, but also the Arts & Crafts period, 1880 to 1910. The Arts & Crafts movement was seen as a reaction against industrialisation. It represented traditional craftsmanship using simple forms and often used medieval, romantic or folk decorative styles. He also advocated a new set of principles for living and working, which resonates with me. I think that at Foundrae we are committed to living beautifully, meaningfully and fully. We want this not only for ourselves, but for everyone we come in contact with.
Selection of rings and bracelets. Photo: Foundrae
5- How do you feel about having contributed to the trend of self-buying women?
The interesting thing is that I didn’t know anything different. As soon as we started our Instagram, I was always talking to the end consumer. I had envisioned Foundrae as tools for self-expression and self-discovery, so I really wanted it to be a personal purchase from the beginning. I didn’t know that this was not a common practice in jewellery, and for Foundrae, the majority of our sales have been purchased by our own customers from the beginning.
6- Who inspires you in your personal and professional life?
Most people I meet inspire me. I think people are a wonder. I love hearing about the diverse backgrounds people grow up in, the challenges they’ve faced, the beauty they see. I think as a society we are so busy that we sometimes forget to take the time to understand the true human depth that is in everyone we pass on the street.
7- Who are your muses?
I have so many and for so many different reasons. Some for their style, some for their courageous acts, some for their creativity, some for their fire, some for their light: Dolly Parton, Caroline de Maigret, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Cher, Diana Vreeland, Debbie Harry, Hanya Yanagihara, Alicia Keys, Willie Nelson, Lisa Bonet, Kristen Stewart, Patti Smith, Maggie Rogers, and Aldo Cipullo, just to name a few
Necklaces. Photo: Foundrae
8- What is your personal favourite piece of jewellery?
A Mexican silver coin that my mother gave me and wore throughout the 1970s.
9- Where is your jewellery sold?
We have our own shop in New York, as well as a website. We also sell to about 20 major specialty accounts and plan to add just one or two new international retail partners this year. We want to keep our distribution tight to ensure that our customer’s experience is very personal.
See you soon!