Harper's Bazaar Arabia: Can you tell us a bit more about how you met and why you decided to launch AUrate?
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 NY while Sophie was at Marc Jacobs. A few years later, a weekend brunch turned into a rumination on why modern fine jewellery was so inaccessible, intimidating and uninspiring. We had no backgrounds in jewellery but we were determined to shake things up in this historically male-dominated industry that usually came with an “ugly” supply chain.
We saw a clear void in the market and we both had a story to tell via AUrate. We went on to create a company that believes the new generation of consumers wants it all; we had to check all the boxes from a perfect product to an ethical supply chain, a concrete giving back program and the most customer-centric strategy.
HBA: What do you feel is special about AUrate compared to other fine jewellery brands?
Sophie Kahn: So many things: The designs, the mission to make real gold that’s locally sourced, ethical yet affordable, the fact that we’re female-founded, that we are DTC and omnichannel.
HBA: What is the focus of AUrate collections/how are they divided?
SK: Our collection is made up of essentials and editions. The essentials are your everyday staples, the editions are inspired by certain stories (from flowers to Japanese dancers to women to places in the world).
HBA: You’re New York-based but have Middle Eastern heritage, can you tell us a bit more about that and if the Middle East is an important market to you today?
BE: I was born and raised in Casablanca (Morocco) until the age of 12 when I moved to Paris then the US. I am a proud Moroccan and always felt very lucky to be of Arab heritage and its rich and deep-rooted culture. The region is fast-growing and has so many exciting new things happening especially for women... And it’s always been an important market for me personally and professionally.
AUrate was born in New York but was set up to be international; it’s been reflected in its team diversity, designs but also validated by increasing demand from the Middle East specifically. Our customers in the region started a conversation with us digitally since we created a seamless cross-border shipping experience and I cannot think of a better time to introduce AUrate to the Middle East.
Hamsa bracelet, Dhs310
HBA: Do you design any collections with the Middle East in mind or draw any creative inspiration from the region?
BE: I mostly focus on the business side at AUrate but I also love getting involved in the design of some of our editions. The Aura collection that just dropped this month is inspired by jewellery I got gifted since I was 2 weeks old; my Hamsa & my evil eye bracelets.
HBA: Is there any particular AUrate design/collection that is especially popular in the Middle East?
SK: Yes! Our new Aura edition, which consists of the evil eye and hamsa collections – a modern take on ancient traditions. It sold out immediately.
Evil eye, Dhs1,100 per single earring
HBA: Can you share any future plans for AUrate?
SK: AUrate’s online footprint has been growing 400% YoY and we already have 4 physical location in the US (NY, DC & Boston). We’re planning to expand to the West coast in 2019 and are looking forward to releasing a few exciting projects we’ve been working on internationally.
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