What led you to found your own company?
The original idea behind BOUMÉ was not all that selfless. It actually started three years ago during a holiday on the Greek island of Mykonos. My brother went out and bought us all those small white plastic cubes with the black letters on them. We began coming up with nicknames for one another and exchanging them as presents. My brother gave me the word ‘potatohead’ and though it may sound funny, I absolutely loved receiving such a personal gift and didn’t take it off for the remainder of the holiday. I really liked the idea that each of us was able to create something truly unique, a sort of personal message for the other. That was the moment I decided that I wanted my word to be of the highest quality and so I turned to 18k gold.
What happened then?
When I was 21, I moved to New York City to work as an actress. While there, it just so happened that I was given the opportunity to create jewelry and went for it. But it took forever to get the samples right. I am quite the perfectionist and quality wise the cubes just didn’t meet my expectations. Then, out of the blue, I received an offer to act on stage in Bangkok for three months, an opportunity which I did not want to turn down. So I decided to put BOUMÉ on hold for the time being. Once I got back however, I was faced with a decision: Do I return to New York or do I move back to Germany and take the product with me?
So you returned to Germany?
To be honest, I had always envisioned the product being in Germany. Apart from it being my home, this country is synonymous with a certain efficiency and quality that I was missing during my time in New York. And those were definitely characteristics I wanted our label to be associated with. I wanted BOUMÉ to have that internationally recognized ‘Made in Germany’ hallmark. Of course that involved a learning process on my behalf, seeing that I had no former experience in jewelry. So I began my research: ‘Germany, Golden City, Pforzheim’, that sounded about right. Today I work with six different companies in Pforzheim and have relocated the entire production there. Do you even realize, how many people are involved in the production of one small cube?
How did you come up with the name?
The cube is obviously based on a children’s toy, so I wanted the name to have a certain playful ring to it. But I didn’t want it to be in German or English, rather a mix. This may sound stupid, but I actually went on Google and searched for words like ‘toy’, ‘play’ or ‘build’. And that’s how one day I chanced upon the word ‘bou’ meaning ‘build’ in the South African language Afrikaans, which I loved. So I added the ‘me’ to make it ‘build me’ and then added the accent to make it sound more elegant. That’s how I came up with BOUMÉ, a name that I believe perfectly expresses our multiple facets.
What’s the idea behind BOUMÉ?
I was never really into designing myself and although I’m a big fan of jewelry I never saw myself as a jewelry designer per se. BOUMÉ to me was more of an individual niche, a unique concept and not just another fashion brand. It was essential to me that I create a product that anyone can wear, be it grandma or lover, without compromising on quality. Also, I wanted it to be exclusive because there were already other low-quality options available, just not in 18-karat gold and not customizable.
With us, it’s all about the cube. We want to encourage people to unleash their creative spirit. But it’s also about building a relationship to the things you wear. Because anything you wear will have an effect on you as well as the people around you. So you need to be able to identify yourself with what you’re wearing. By adding that personal touch, BOUMÉ makes it easier for you to say something about yourself, to show another side, to give yourself your own label and share it with the world; elegant but edgy. There’s really no limit to what you can conceive. I love it when people employ jewelry to reveal a certain aspect of their personality. That’s something I can relate to myself and definitely part of the experience I would like to share with BOUMÉ. I honestly doubt we’d be doing so well if we were only selling ready-made words.
What is it that makes BOUMÉ so special?
We value quality above all else and that shows. Each and every element of our cubes is manufactured exactly to our specifications and our liking. As a brand BOUMÉ stands for individuality, personality and that subtle point of emphasis. We acquire all our certified materials from Germany and work exclusively with 18k gold in three selected tones: white gold, yellow gold and rose gold. Each cube passes through five stages of production and is marked with a small letter B as well as a certified 750g gold stamp. I decided to go with a classic font, but we are continuously adding symbols, which I design myself. Personally, I love to occasionally use a symbol in place of a letter as in LϟVE. Next up are diamonds. We’ll be having symbols as well as entire cubes set with diamonds. Our products leave plenty of room for imagination and creative indulgence.
What are your collections all about?
First and foremost, our collections are meant to inspire, though they also provide our customers with a finished product to buy directly (in the stores). We show them what’s possible with BOUMÉ, while inspiring them to create something of their own. I want to encourage people to reveal another side of themselves by means of our jewelry, to make a statement. The actual creative process and ideas behind the collections are also mine. I love ambiguity and words that have a certain twist to them. Take ADDICT for instance. That’s one of my personal favorites and incidentally our top seller so far. So much meaning embodied by just one word: ‘addicted to love’, ‘addicted to life’, ‘addicted to work’, it can mean just about anything. And people seem to love it just as much as I do. It’s just such an indescribable feeling to see others wearing and actually buying my ideas.
You’re also quite active in charity? What exactly are you doing?
Whenever you’re experiencing success with something, I believe it’s important to give back. We are currently working together with the Nam Khan Foundation in Laos. They support sustainable eco farming projects in Laos and we in turn support them with the profits from one of our bracelets. Then there’s the Share The Happiness Foundation that is currently building a school in Nepal. We recently auctioned off one of our necklaces and forwarded the proceeds to their cause. We would like to get more young people involved in charity so we’ve teamed up with the same foundation to organize an upcoming club event here in my hometown of Munich.
Do you see yourselves as a jewelry startup?
I no longer see BOUMÉ as a startup because we’re already past that beginning phase and ‘startup’ to me always sounds like the venture is on the verge of failure. I experienced that rough start back in New York. And even though I always believed in the idea itself, I knew these things take time. You need to be realistic. Just because you love the idea doesn’t mean others will feel the same way about it. Then, right before Christmas we sold out several times and needed to re-produce. So for now, I see us as a young jewelry label that is currently off to a hot start in Germany and will hopefully soon make a name for itself internationally as well.
Are you doing all of this on your own?
Six months ago, Anna-Lisa came on board. Besides being close friends, we also make a great team with our individual strengths and weaknesses. I’ve learned how valuable it is to have someone to work with. We developed our website as well as our online store together. It’s great having someone at my side to shoulder the load and take over, especially when I need to pursue my acting engagements. And that’s where Anna-Lisa comes in. I just love having that kind of support.
How do you manage to combine BOUMÉ with your passion for acting?
During the past weeks and months BOUMÉ was my top priority. But now that we’ve found our stride and I have a new management, I’m eager to get back to acting. While it’s not always easy reconciling the two, the good thing is that I can work from pretty much anywhere. And when you love what you do, it really doesn’t seem like work. I’ve literally managed to turn my two hobbies into veritable careers.
Photographs of the designer by Michael Gröger