STORY BY RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN – SHOP AURATE – PHOTOS BY BRIDGET BADORE FOR THE STYLE LINE
AUrate is telling a new kind of story about jewelry for the
modern woman. Founded by Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui, the New York-based brand is taking the city by storm with their thoughtful approach to design, impeccable craftsmanship and creative acumen. Unsurprisingly their valiant efforts have translated into success both online and off, as a result of their streamlined digital shopping experience and the recent debut of their flourishing brick and mortar locations in two of the city’s most sought-after neighborhoods: Soho, and most recently, the Upper East Side where we recently spent some time getting to know Sophie and AUrate’s tiny but mighty team.
During our time together, we found ourselves fully immersed in AUrate’s refined, minimal, and inevitably chic world where we learned a little bit more about the driving motivation behind AUrate’s ethos. As Sophie eloquently stated in our interview below, “Jewelry is something very personal that you can wear every day. It sits directly on your skin, can last a lifetime and very often has sentimental value. What better way to express those values than through this vehicle?”
We’re ecstatic to share our morning with the AUrate team who kindly gave us a tour of the shop and allowed us to style a few of their most coveted pieces. Read on to meet Sophie, discover her story, her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and her hopes for AUrate in an increasingly connected age.
It’s kind of hard for us to
separate work from our personality, since they are so closely intertwined. We love to work and work to love. It’s truly our passion and drives us daily. The values of AUrate stem directly from our intrinsic values: being real and authentic, caring about others around you and your impact on them/the world at large, thinking outside of the box and daring to be bold. Next to that, family and close friends are very important to both of us. In life, we value making a tangible mark and leaving the world in a better state than we found it. We strive to do this in our everyday life as well as with AUrate.
We love AUrate’s inherent passion for storytelling. Give us a recap of your respective stories and what led to the inception of AUrate.
We met while in graduate school at Princeton. We were a couple of the few women there studying mathematical finance. Bouchra is originally from Morocco, grew up in Paris and initially went to Wall Street; Sophie is Dutch, grew up in Amsterdam and started working in Management Consulting at Boston Consulting Group then moved into Fashion as Director of Strategy at Marc Jacobs. The idea for AUrate came about from a need we felt as 20-30-something professionals – working long hours in finance and fashion – who couldn’t find jewelry that was real gold, affordable and also looked modern and contemporary. So we decided to do this ourselves.
With the above in mind, we also admire AUrate’s penchant for expression, action and giving back. Why do you think jewelry design is a compelling vehicle for these ideas/themes?
Jewelry is something very personal that you can wear every day. It sits directly on your skin, can last a lifetime and very often has sentimental value. What better way to express those values than through this vehicle?
What has it been like to build a jewelry brand in a city like New York and what would you say is your most unexpected source of creative inspiration?
We both are in awe of New York and think it’s the greatest place to build a brand and live when you’re young. Yes, it’s crazy and loud and dirty (and sometimes you need to escape to breathe fresh air – literally and figuratively), but it’s also full of the most inspiring people, creativity, and energy. Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places, whether it’s the architecture, people on the street, the galleries, or even simply the skyline.
How would you advise the next generation of designers, makers, and creatives to leave an imprint in the world simply by doing what they love?
Just do it. Don’t get bogged down in over-analysis and self-doubt. Start by doing and you’ll learn via trial and error from there. If you wait for the perfect plan, it will never happen.
What is one question you wish people asked you more often?
How to find the right partner/co-founder and overall team is something really important that can be overlooked. In general, having the talent in place to make something happen is just as important (if not much more) than the idea itself.
What is one topic you wish you had more of an opportunity to talk about in studio visits, interviews, and stories?
Similarly to creating a team, it has been and remains instrumental in talking to other founders and companies about their experiences. In general, we’d love to have more time to focus on this, share learnings and swap “war stories” with fellow entrepreneurs.
AURate really promotes modernity and style in an authentic way and this is something we’re seeing a lot of within this new wave of fashion and lifestyle brands. It’s also something we talk about in our stories as it pertains to some of the world’s bigger conversations. In your mind who is the AUrate woman and what makes her modern?
The AUrate woman is somebody who has developed herself into caring about more than just appearances and herself. It’s what and whom we see around us; a shift in mindset to the bigger picture – multidimensional – whether it’s about ethical sourcing, fair pricing, or giving back. We told ourselves when we started AUrate: it can’t just be about one aspect, the product needs to look the best, the quality needs to be the highest, we need to produce under the most ethical circumstances here in NYC, and we have to matter and give back to the community. Tick all the boxes. In order to make it a modern brand and capture the hearts of modern women, you need to succeed on all fronts.