Here is to diamonds and giving back!
Graduate school friends Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui are the creative forces behind the ethically sourced fine jewellery brand, AUrate. The two met back when they were in Graduate school, but the idea for their business was born years later, when they both had successful careers.
One day, while out on brunch, the two friends got into a discussion about how modern fine jewellery was unaffordable, and uninspiring, and then AUrate was born.
How did you both meet?
Bouchra Ezzahraoui: We met while studying finance at Princeton University, and we both went to corporate jobs. I was a derivatives trader at Goldman Sachs in New York while Sophie was at Marc Jacobs. A few years later, a weekend brunch turned into a big discussion on why modern fine jewellery was so inaccessible, intimidating and uninspiring.
Why did you decide to start a jewellery brand?
Sophie Kahn: Bouchra and I were not satisfied with the options out there. We wanted something we could love, for its design, quality, craftsmanship, that was ethical and cool and beautiful, all in one.
What does the name AUrate mean?
BE: “AU” is the symbol of gold in the periodic table, “rate” stands for rate of return on your purchase. “AUrate” is also pronounced “Orate” referring to storytelling. In a nutshell, the name stands for fine jewellery that holds value and tells a story.
Who/what inspires you?
BE: I’m inspired by all the strong women around me and all the mothers juggling between a career and building a family and who all make things happen!
SK: I get inspired by people on the subway, the buildings in NYC, the art world, fashion, and most of all by our woman – the reason we are doing this, after all.
Bouchra, your background is in finance, what made you change paths?
BE: In short, I wanted to build something of my own. I always enjoyed being part of the process that takes you from of 0 to 1 to N and this is exactly what entrepreneurship enables you to experience. My finance job as a trader taught me discipline and how to be comfortable taking risks, I learnt how to manage cashflow and deal with investors; and these were all invaluable skills to help start a company.
Sophie, what did you learn during your time at Marc Jacobs, that has helped you in launching your own brand?
SK: I learned what it means to be a brand in the fashion world. What this means and how to make it work.
The brand is now three years old, how has it grown since 2015?
BE: Our team went from 2 to 35 people, we opened 4 locations in the US and AUrate’s online revenue has been growing 400% YoY. The brand, often called the “Warby Parker” of fine jewellery, is now the only DTC fine jewellery company with a successful omnichannel presence in the US. Celebrities are wearing AUrate and the press is constantly endorsing the brand, our customers love the product and what we stand for. It’s been an unbelievable journey so far, all thanks to our customers.
How does your Middle Eastern and Dutch heritages inspire your collections?
BE: Every piece of my jewellery collection -since I was 2-weeks old- came with a story. My Moroccan heritage did in still this mindset here at AUrate; we make jewellery that tells one’s story and that’s makes this product so special.
SK: My Dutch heritage probably has something to do with my love for simplicity and essentialism – nothing too overdone and screamy – less is more.
How important is it that your materials are ethically sourced?
SK: Very. This is the future, or put differently, it’s beyond necessary. This is core to what we care about as a brand, a company, and as human beings.
What are your favourite down-time hobbies?
BE: I love meeting my close friends for a nice meal in our favourite spots and when things aren’t too crazy here… I travel the world with my husband.
To get their jewllery, visit AUrate’s website!
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