It all began with a necklace. It was woven together with different seeds and I bought it from a woman on the street. Many years ago, I was just a young teenager living in Brazil with my aunt and cousins. My love affair with fashion had begun early on in life. But it was during this time in Brazil that I began to get out of my fashion comfort zone. I was continuously inspired by the vibrant, warm, unapologetically bold people, but more specifically the women. Every city I went to had a different vibe; each influenced me and my outlook on style in a different way.
Then I found the necklace. I was walking in the city centre, when I noticed an elderly woman intricately weaving beads and seeds, yes actual seeds, into breathtaking pieces of work. Ana Maria was her name. She had a tattered towel laid in front of her covered with her pieces. I asked her about how she made them and where she got her materials. "Seriously how do you find so many perfect seeds? And wait why are these works of art on the street and not being sold in a store?" She told me about the painstaking process of making each piece; she'd been taught by her mother, who had been taught by her mother.
Ana-Maria then went on to explain that at one point she'd sold pieces to a few stores, but the Brazilian people were becoming more and more interested in buying imported fashion and could care less about handmade local jewelry. I was shocked. I asked her: "Ana-Maria, if almost no one is buying, why are you still making this jewelry?" She smiled at me and said: "Well because it brings me joy in making my art." I bought a few items from her, including the necklace that first caught my eye. And I walked away with a newfound respect for the art of handmade jewelry, with a side of sadness to see it so unappreciated.
That was just the beginning. During the rest of my time in Brazil, I collected a whole lot of pieces made from leather, crystal, gold, beads, feathers-- all handmade, each with a different story. Upon my return to the U.S. and college, I incorporated each of my findings in my wardrobe and was constantly getting stopped with "Where did you get your necklace?" Or "How amazing is that belt! Where is it from?"
Fast-forward many years later through college, fashion school, a series of exhausting internships, 12-hour work days at bars, restaurants, in retail, doing social media for anyone that would hire me, and even a bit of styling, I finally woke up one day realized it was time for a change.
Thus the birth of B.E.
Inspired by Ana-Maria's words all those years ago, B.E. stands for "Beleza na Edificação," which means "beauty in the making."
Thank you, friend, for supporting not only me, but so many other women in our dream and journey.