All GOLD Everything | Fine Jewelry Brand to Watch, AUrate
AUrate is a fine jewelry brand that focuses on making jewelry using durable materials, transparent pricing, sustainable production, and tangible giving. They believe in buying the best you can afford using the purest 14- and 18-karat gold, Japanese and South Sea pearls, and S1-clarity diamonds only. Their designs are classic staples, yet completely original. We chatted with the founders, Sophie and Bouchra to learn more about their brand, vision, and story; don't forget to check out AUrate online store to see all the beautiful pieces!
You started AUrate as a side hustle after seeing the lack of fine jewelry at a reasonable price point. When did you both come to a realization that this was becoming something bigger than just the side hustle?
B: We studied the market and its inefficiencies and there was a clear void in our category. Fine jewelry that is accessible, contemporary and ethically sourced was not an option to 20/30- something women who were self-purchasers. The more we got the brand and the product exposed, the more validation we got from our customers. This translated to small pop-ups that quickly became very profitable, press and celebrities were raving about the product and its story. We then decided to make the jump and go all in.
S: Rather quickly actually. It was kind of crazy. I remember thinking, we just did this because we saw a need, and WOW, it seems we’re not the only ones. Press picked it up, celebrities started wearing it, our first 10-day popup (during our day-job holiday) was hugely profitable. And this without any marketing spend – our first popup was literally just some Ikea tables and a plant from Home Depot.
You both have lived in cities around the world like Paris, Holland, and Morocco; how do the different cultures from those cities play a part in how you think about jewelry?
B: I grew up in Morocco where jewelry is part of the family heritage and every women’s story. Most customers are very educated about fine jewelry and more specifically gold in that part of the world, where the category is much more democratized. I also spent 10 years in Paris where contemporary fashion was booming and I got a taste of fashion-forward minimalism that I loved and incorporated into my traditional heritage. AUrate in my mind is the child of an east-west, artisanship-design approach.
S: Coming from Amsterdam, it’s definitely in my blood to appreciate the beauty of quality and simplicity – less is more. In the design process, instead of thinking ‘what can I add', I always think, ‘what can I remove’? I know minimalism was trendy at some point and then not, but for me, it’s actually about timeless, essential design and quality. Letting the beauty of gold speak for itself, and not getting distracted by the inessential. If you avoid the irrelevant, you emphasize the important.
I know that AU is the symbol for gold on the periodic table. Can you share with us the meaning of the entire name AUrate?
B: AU is the symbol of gold in the periodic table, “Rate” stands for rate of return on your investment in the piece you’re purchasing. AUrate offers real gold and gives back in a real way. For every piece of jewelry sold we give back a schoolbook to a child in need.
AUrate is pronounced “Orate,” as in orator to tell a story. The brand was founded by two working women who wanted to change the way fine jewelry was perceived and sold. Our goal is to democratize the process without any concessions made in quality, look, price or ethical supply chain. Every piece of the collection has a story behind it and we know that every piece purchased by our customers will have one too.
S: AU stands for gold, RATE stands for quality and durability. You pronounce it “Orate,” like a storyteller since we’re telling a story with our jewelry, and we believe every woman has her own story to tell.
Can you explain the ideas behind the two collections Mercer and Tableau? (I’ll leave this for SK)
S: The Mercer collection was inspired by New York’s Mercer Street. This is where AUrate was born and where Bouchra and I spent so much of our time. It represents downtown cool – something edgy and elegant at the same time that’s really unique to the NY woman.
The Tableau collection was inspired by artists and art, and so many exhibitions and galleries that we’ve visited in New York. It really feeds the soul and is, of course, critical to our creative process (and mindset). So with the Tableau Edition, we’re paying tribute to all the wonderful artists and creations out there.
How do you want women to feel while wearing your pieces?
B: I want them to feel empowered and confident, the AUrate jewelry they’re wearing should feel like a second skin.
S: I want them to feel like rock stars, empowered. Like they can have it all and don’t have to make concessions. They can say no to marrying the wrong guy that looks good on paper, or no to the seemingly perfect corporate job. They can follow their heart and their gut and believe in themselves.
Since starting your own brand in 2015, what have been the biggest challenges, if any, of being your own boss? What are the biggest rewards?
B: The best thing is seeing the immediate results of your decisions (good and bad), building something that goes from 0 to 1 and putting together a team that believes in your vision. The biggest challenge is looking for sponsors and mentors that will help you throughout your journey. I’m lucky I have a co-founder who I can bounce ideas off of, but I’m also proud of the hard work we did to find the right sponsors who have been following and gearing our success so far.
S: The biggest challenge is that the buck stops with you. Electricity outage? A disgruntled employee who’s harassing staff? Website down? We’ve seen it all. At the end of the day, you are the final one responsible and have to fix it. Thank goodness Bouchra and I have one another, that obviously makes it much more bearable (and fun). The biggest reward is seeing something that you’ve created come to life, and to be able to really have an impact; on the way women feel, and with the company and culture you’re setting.
What do you feel makes AUrate unique?
B: AUrate is made by women for women with a no concessions playbook. No concessions on design, quality, ethical supply chain and giving back in a concrete way.
S: The combination of our designs, quality, price point, local craftsmanship and ethics (both in terms of materials and our giving back program).
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
B: It means do what you love and give it your 1000%.
S: It means to follow your own path – be a leader.
Who are your MISSBISHes?
B: All the strong women entrepreneurs around me who inspire me every day.
S: So many, it’s hard to choose. It’s more the new generation of women that are standing up for what they believe in and going for it, in whichever way that may be.