A new label called Foundrae is tapping into the symbolic nature of jewelry with a dreamy line of modern heirlooms.
“Strength, wholeness, karma, protection, dream—once I was really thinking about these things, and talking about it with my friends, I realized everyone needs these things in their life,” says Beth Bugdaycay, creative director of the New York-based jewelry line, which she co-founded with her husband Murat Bugdaycay in September 2015.
Bugdaycay, 43, left her longtime post as CEO and co-founder of ready-to-wear label Rebecca Taylor and decided to give people exactly that with her line of rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets infused with spiritual and mystical symbols. “It developed because it was also what I needed in my life, I needed to dream,” says Bugdaycay, a tall and enthusiastic blonde. “Believe it or not, I almost thought I was done dreaming in terms of professional development and then all of a sudden I thought, what am I thinking? I am 42, I am not done.”
Though she had no formal training in the business before her Foundrae venture, she’s been obsessed with jewelry her entire life. “Anybody who has ever known me has thought of me as a jewelry collector, I am always wearing lots of different pieces—vintage estate jewelry mixed with new jewelry,” she says.
She spent her early years in Texas hunting for gems at estate sales with her grandmother Virginia Ray, who Bugdaycay paid tribute to with the line’s name. “The first name I picked was Vestige because I like the idea of pieces of the past that you then bring to the future. But apparently a lot of other people like that name too, because it was very much taken,” she says. She rejiggered and landed on Foundrae, with Rae being a reference to her grandma, who is now 92. “She’s overjoyed, she can’t believe her name is a part of this.”
Some of the Bugdaycay picked up from the estate sales as a kid, like vintage acrostic bands, ended up serving as an early reference point for Foundrae’s offerings. “In sixth grade, I got four skinny, acrostic Victorian bands that spelled out D-E-A-R,” she explains. “I gave one to each of my closest friends. Everyone else was doing the broken best friend heart from Spencer’s at the time.”
The range is already stocked at Barneys and Broken English in Soho, as well as on the brand’s website, foundrae.com. Bugdaycay had planned to open her first brick and mortar store in Tribeca this spring, but decided to hold off for now to focus on her e-commerce business. “The problem right now is trying to keep up with the demand,” she admits. (Not a bad problem for a relatively new line to have.) In particular, her colorful Cigar Band rings ($2,850 each) with 18-karat gold champlevé enamel and the brand’s core symbols - like the lion, representing strength - are in high demand.
“It’s the symbols that are so dear to me,” says Bugdaycay. “I like applying them across many different pieces. It’s about how to deliver these words of inspiration and to help people in their own lives.”
Aside from the strength symbol, there is karma (“a reminder that every day is a new opportunity to put forth new energy that you to be returned as well”); protection (“it’s about internal protection against your own negativity and the voice telling you that you can’t do something”); and dream (“we have an arrow to go with it because the idea isn’t that you are just dreaming, but actualizing it’”). They come in four colorways (red, blue, green, and black, respectively), and Foundrae also does customized pieces upon request.
With Foundrae, Bugdaycay has actualized some big dreams of her own. After 20 years of supporting Rebecca Taylor’s creative vision, she’s letting her own creative juices flow at last.