When Ben Affleck wanted to design a personalized charm necklace for Jennifer Lopez this summer, he turned to Foundationthe famous fine jewelry line founded by Brownsville native Beth Bugdaycay and her husband, Murat, in 2015. A cult favorite of notables like Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, Doua Lipa, and Vice President Kamala Harris, Foundrae presents what she calls “modern heirlooms,” designed to encourage all who wear them to step into their power. The collection’s earrings, rings, bracelets, necklaces and medallions are in solid eighteen carat gold and can be adorned with a wide range of precious stones, Tahitian pearls or champlevÃ© enamel. With an emphasis on quality craftsmanship, the gold is hand-cast, the enamel is hand-painted, the glass is blown and hand-carved in Turkey, and special details are hand-etched. internally. We recently caught up with Bugdaycay, 49, who was co-founder and former CEO of fashion line Rebecca Taylor before launching Foundrae and becoming its creative director. She talked about everything from symbolism to self-expression and life during the pandemic.
Texas Monthly: You grew up on the border in Brownsville before moving to New York and working in the fashion industry with designers like Cynthia Rowley and Rebecca Taylor. How has this Texan upbringing shaped you as a jewelry designer?
Beth Bugdaycay: Everyone I knew was very sentimental about their jewelry: religious tokens, keepsakes from old grandmothers, heirloom medallions. My sister and I carried matching pressed coins that bore the Lord’s Prayer. I grew up with the feeling that jewelry always had an important personal meaning for the wearer.
TM: Can you share a memory from your childhood in Texas that connects you to your work today?
BB: My dad worked in Matamoros, Mexico, so we often crossed the border. One of the mainstays of our tours was Salvador, a jewelry store that has been in business for over fifty years. The founder was a jeweler who created most of the pieces himself, and when he passed away his daughter continued to run the shop. Many of the pieces I bought ânewâ when I was a teenager in the 80s were vintage â but never worn â designs from the 50s and 60s â which were still part of Salvador’s inventory. It was more than a jewelry store; it was a family business and very personal. That’s where my sister and I got our ears pierced.
TM: Whether it’s a locket, bracelet or signet ring, your collection is highly symbolic, with symbols of protection, integrity, karma and resilience, to name a few. -ones. Why do you think the symbolism behind Foundrae’s pieces has touched customers so deeply?
BB: My connection to symbolism has always been there. Symbols help convey our innate desire for growth and self-expression; many of the symbols we use date back thousands of years. But I think they particularly resonate right now because it’s a time of transition, which makes people think more. In transition, people are more motivated to find what speaks to them and what fulfills them, to better align with their life purpose.
TM: For many, wearing Foundrae’s modern heirlooms can help people “adapt” to life’s challenges. Can you elaborate?
BB: The symbols serve as reminders that everything you want is already inside of you. Too often we rush through our days, checking off our tasks, and fail to reflect on what is truly important to us. The medallions you choose to represent who you are remind us of our purpose and help inspire our next chapters. I want people to feel connected and empowered, to realize that they are not alone in their desire to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life, but also that they are completely empowered to create this for themselves.
TM: What symbols do you like right now?
BB: For the past year and a half, I’ve been concentrating on symbols in threes. We shared “Mind Body Soul”, a new symbol of wholeness [a medallion depicting three rays of light and three stages of the moon]. It is rich in symbolism and inspiration. The beauty of symbols and images is that their meanings are layered: one image can say what it takes a thousand words to describe. The three stages of the moon represent time, but since lunar energy is considered feminine, it also represents three stages of life: maiden, mother, elder. Traditionally, people say âoldâ instead of âelder,â but unfortunately the old woman has so much negativity associated with her. Instead, I want people to recognize that being called an elder is an honorary title, a title we all aspire to have and respect. It is a privilege to be an alumnus, but also a responsibility as alumni pass on incredibly valuable information and experience to the next generation. The three paths that lead to the three stages of the moon are paths of ascension. I see them as representing âmind, body, soul,â which are aspects of our lives that we need to move forward simultaneously in order to achieve wholeness. All of this can seem really daunting, and then you see the “elder” moon and remember that our mothers’ mothers have all climbed these paths before us, in much more difficult conditions.
TM: You recently collaborated with the famous Italian ceramist Laboratorio Paravicini on a new collection of homeware and tableware. How did it happen?
BB: Costanza Paravicini is the founder, and when she found out that we were planning to visit Positano, a part of Italy we had never seen before, she immediately recommended that we stay at the hotel owned by her sister and brother-in-law, Le Sirenuse. . The trip was steeped in history and natural beauty. It was very humbling and reminded me that the world is so big and how much I have never seen. This feeling of respect translates into new pieces.