In Conversation with
We Sat Down With the Designers To Discuss
Symbols of Spirituality.
January 14, 2021
Have you ever imagined turning your hobby into a full-time business built on intent and purpose? Nancy Badia did just that when she launched her fine jewelry brand, Buddha Mama, in 2008. What initially began as Nancy’s side project making beaded necklaces in an effort to raise funds for her local Buddhist center, evolved into a divine collection of exquisitely crafted spiritual motifs. Now with Dakota, Nancy’s daughter, and Leyla, Dakota’s childhood friend, the company has soared to new heights.
We sat down with the Buddha Mama team to talk about all things, travel, jewels, and how it all started.
How did you transition from beading at your kitchen table into building an acclaimed fine jewelry company?Nancy: I was attending gem shows as a buyer and around the same time I had the opportunity to visit India and Thailand; that is when I saw a future and a vision of what we could do in fine jewelry. Good friends introduced us to a factory in Bangkok, which we still work with today. I asked them to produce my first gold pieces based on my Mandala tattoos. In the beginning, the most difficult part was worrying if we could keep coming up with new designs and growing the business!
What is it like to get to work with your mom (Nancy) and your best friend (Leyla)?Dakota: We always say we are lucky - which I think we truly are. The best part would be that we are able to shoot straight and push each other, as most families certainly do!
What are your early memories of spiritual practice in your family?Dakota: My parents were hippies. My mom practiced yoga and Buddhism so it was really peace and love for all. My grandmother was an atheist and a lover of all things science. My earliest memories of spiritual practice are of beautiful Buddhist chants, singing bowls, and learning about the sky and all the magic taking place between planets and stars.
How did you become part of the Buddha Mama family? It must be amazing to get to work with such good friends!Leyla: Dakota and I are childhood friends from middle school. After I graduated from college, I came back to Miami and spent a lot of time hanging out at the Badia household (where Nancy’s studio was located). Consequently, I began to help out with Buddha Mama; stringing beads, fulfilling local store orders, putting on small trunk shows. Eight years later, I am formally the Operations Manager, and together, with the help of our agent, we are still doing much of the same, just now in a national and international capacity! It’s been a real treat to grow in such a fascinating industry and I’m eternally thankful for the opportunity to work alongside them.
What are your favorite motifs to explore? Do you have a particular connection to one of the motifs?Dakota: Evil eyes and skulls. I’ve been in love with these beautiful symbols for as long as I can remember.
What are your greatest hopes for the brand as you look forward to the new year?Nancy: Continue to grow the jewelry design categories and work on launching home goods.