When I first met Beth Bugdaycay, the former co-founder and CEO of Rebecca Taylor, she’d been out of that job for just over a year and had recently launched Foundrae — a long-time pipe dream in the form of jewelry label. “The problem is, sometimes you’re on this hamster wheel,” she said when I asked her about leaving Rebecca Taylor.
“And it’s hard to get off,” I finished.
You’re in this comfortable position, in this fantastic role, but something doesn’t feel right.
As we nestle ourselves into the cleavage of 2016 — a year that has proven itself the true successor to 2015 with its emphasis on self-improvement and empowerment and enlightenment, on doing work not to make a living but to architect a life — the pursuit of passion has never roared so loud as it does now. And Beth Bugdaycay seems like a prime arbiter of this movement.
That same meeting, she gave me a small gold necklace with a symbol on it. This symbol, she explained — one of the five that comprise her collection — represents “Dream.” Every time I wear it and someone asks about it, I find myself explaining that it’s a very special piece. Why? Because the person who gave it to me left her comfortable, reliable job to willingly plunge herself into the volatile water of new business to accommodate a dream. It’s become a reminder that lives on my neck as if to consistently nag myself: no dream — even if it’s scaling back — can’t be realized with a little bit of fearlessness. No decision is irrevocable. I build my own circumstance.
I can’t wait to give it to my daughter and disclose what it meant to me — which is so fitting that it’s almost manipulative.
“The point is, you can start passing down the heirlooms now. It doesn’t have to be like, ‘Oh, my family sucks, we don’t have them.’ It always starts with you,” Beth says of Foundrae’s mission.
Of the four other symbols, which are rendered in a panoply of necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings, there is protection, signified by a scarab, “which is about protecting yourself from your own inner voice.”
Wholeness is a snake, because “snakes shed their skin, so it’s about rejuvenation — the idea that you can renew constantly.”
Karma is represented by a double loop. “The idea for this is that the energy that you give out comes back,” Beth told me. “But it doesn’t mean badly. It really means that every day you have a new opportunity to give out energy that you want to put out there.”
And strength is illustrated with a lion that espouses the virtues of self-confidence.
There is something inherently intoxicating and sort of fantastical about taking control of the heirlooms that your family — either chosen or given — will command, of determining what will hold value because you chose to place the time-honored principle in a specific, tangible item. It also presents the opportunity to change the value, riffing on the theme of wholeness that Beth talks about, allowing for an emphasis on renewal that’s completely in your hands. And it’s true, too, you know? Why don’t we start the stories of our future families? Eventually, we’ll be their ancestors and when they’re confused about who they are, or what they are, they can turn to our talismans and remember.
Or maybe not — if nothing else, damn it’s good jewelry.