“Oh, I love this,” she says, admitting that old books are one of her favourite souvenirs to take home from new places. Bugdaycay stares at the page, seemingly unable to take her eyes away from the photos of delicate spines and binding tools.
“I have to go here,” she gushes, emphasizing the have. “I have to go here.”
Perhaps she’ll find something for her home collection, or for the library that she operates out of her New York City storefront. Bugdaycay is the creative director and co-founder of the jewellery line Foundrae, but within its Tribeca flagship, visitors can browse an expansive vintage book assemblage and even check-out a copy for two weeks.
It may seem like a random idea to those who have not met the charismatic and vibrant Bugdaycay, but anyone who has entered her orbit is sure to understand her ceaseless adoration for all kinds of antiques, heirlooms, and found objects. These pieces—artifacts of lives lived—are partly what inspired her to create Foundrae with her husband in 2015. The collection of what she calls “modern heirlooms” are embossed with symbols that adhere to one of her eight chosen tenets of life: Strength, Karma, Dream, Resilience, True Love, Wholeness, Passion, and Protection.
“I find that symbols are a more soulful way to communicate that allows people to express things that sometimes they don’t have the words for,” Bugdaycay says, seated in a bright back corner of South Granville’s Boboli (her only Canadian client to date), where she is hosting a trunk show. “I feel like it’s first symbols, then words, then action. So what I’m really trying to do is give people the tools, the starting blocks, to either express themselves or to discover themselves.”
Each pillar’s symbols are emblazoned across gold cigar rings, pendants, and charm bracelets: there are wings for Passion, for example, and there is a lion for Strength. The idea is that anyone can find within Foundrae a personal story; the pieces are meant to be layered and stacked, creating an individual life code through the engravings and the meanings they carry for each wearer. At the end of the day, humans are complicated and multifaceted and hard to define—the beauty of Foundrae’s offering is that the levels of self-definition can be added on or stripped away depending on how a woman (or man, as there are many male Foundrae wearers) feels that day.
Fittingly, no theme has so far stood out as the runaway favourite among Bugdaycay’s customers; it seems they all hold equal weight. “I feel like that’s a real blessing is that there’s not one clear tenet that is dominating,” she says. “If there was only one that was working, then I would say that I didn’t probably choose the right ones.”
Bugdaycay was moved to create Foundrae after spending nearly two decades as the CEO of Rebecca Taylor, the ready-to-wear clothing brand she co-founded with the company’s namesake. She was in need of change, and ready to pursue a new creative outlet. “We have a tenet [at Foundrae] called Wholeness and it shows a snake, and the idea is how snakes shed skin in order to grow and find balance,” she explains. “I felt like I needed to do that.”
It’s a full-circle story for the designer, who has always represented herself through her ornamentation. “Jewellery has defined my style, my personal style, my entire life,” Bugdaycay says. “Even in my high school pictures I have a ring on every finger, 20 bracelets. They were always symbolic for me, always, always, always.” She thinks back to her school photo from senior year. “It’s so funny, because I’m remembering my picture now,” she says, a sense of wonderment clear in her eyes. It’s just occurring to her that in that photo, visible on her hand is a ring shaped like a snake.
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