Bali is known as “the island of the gods.” I believe it’s because it is one of the most spiritual places on the planet. I didn’t really discover the richness of Bali’s spiritual life until my second visit, but what instantly drew me in was the people.
I’d traveled quite a bit through South East Asia meeting some incredibly kind and inviting people along the way, but the Balinese were different. Spirituality was a way of life. They greeted me with a soft smile and I watched as they moved so gently with this stillness and ease through the streets. They have an absolute devotion to kindness and hospitality that is unwavering.
What many don’t know, is that Bali is not only famous for its spiritual lifestyle but also it’s artisans. Specifically many of their hand making traditions that have been passed down from one generation to the next. Everything they create holds beauty and connection.
I had such a curiosity to learn about the local artisans and these fascinating techniques they were using to create everything from wood carvings to woven baskets and breathtaking textiles.
This curiosity led me to be introduced to a wonderful jewelry maker named Gede. There was an instantaneous connection with Gede. My creativity was flowing, I would conceptualize what I personally wanted to wear, sketch it out and then Gede and his smiths would begin bringing my sketches to life using decades old handcrafted techniques. I had never seen anything like it.
After this trip, I came home and many friends and family were asking about these pieces I had created and where they could buy them. They wanted them for themselves and to gift (which ironically tied into the creed of offerings that eventually led to the foundation of Anna Beck.)
It was a bit like a dream, but at this point I knew there was something brewing here. So I went back to Bali to learn more about the technique and overall process and to reconnect with Gede.
Gede had two smiths and he was producing out of the back of his home at the time. I remember those first meetings and how gracious and excited he was to be working together. I felt the same way. Looking back, it was our communication and a mutual trust that held the space for us to have a wonderful business partnership that would continue growing for years to come.
His daughter had just been born and in Bali children are worshipped. In fact they have a tradition in which babies under three months old are never to be put on the ground. That means every family member must take turns holding the baby for the first three months. It’s something they delight in and if you’re a visitor with child, be prepared to have every local Balinese want to hold, play and engage with your child! It’s quite sweet.
There are many beautiful traditions that the Balinese carry on and love and kindness are always at the core of those traditions. Love and kindness in fact are truly a part of everything the Balinese do, most especially their offerings.
They pause several times a day to give thanks by placing beautiful handmade offering baskets in temples, on the side of the road and in different corners of their home. It is a Hindu tradition and the most important thing to them above all else. Each day, they create these offerings, pause and give thanks to the gods for all of their blessings.
As I continued to work with Gede, I saw first-hand how this ‘pause, connect and reflect’ way of life was impacting the way he and his smiths created each piece. The handmade process took time, but it is an honored tradition, an art form that is to be respected and perfected. Both Gede and his smiths were devoted to creating each piece as though they were preparing an offering for their gods or a gift for a loved one.
I began falling in love with the culture and the jewelry making process. The more I interacted with the smiths the more I was amazed with the technique they were using to dot each piece and how these little circles of silver are transformed into exquisite pieces of wearable art.
As I dove more into this technique I also began diving into the various meanings of circles. “No beginning, no end,” “the infinite eternity,” “totality,” and “wholeness” were just a few meanings that I connected with. Unbeknownst to me at the time, circles were becoming a core component of this brand I was slowly unfolding. You’ll even see today, circles are foundationally throughout most of our pieces.
After creating about 20 pieces with Gede, I went back to my home in San Francisco to finalize developing the brand. I knew for the name I wanted something simple, so I dissected my own name a bit. I’ve always loved the name Anna which is my middle name and Beck - short for becky. Anna felt very curvy and feminine and Beck felt strong and powerful. Thus was born Anna Beck.
I began selling at street festivals and walking into stores to sell on consignment. The next thing I knew, stores were calling me just days after I fulfilled an order saying they needed more inventory and I was selling out within a matter of hours at the festivals. I knew I had to keep progressing, create more pieces and ultimately continue growing Anna Beck.
It became clear that our customers knew that they were buying something special, an intimate piece of Bali that connected them with something bigger than themselves. I was overjoyed to uncover that those who fell in love with Anna Beck felt the same unique connection I did to each piece.
For three years, I flew back and forth from San Francisco to Bali designing new collections and working closely with Gede, at which point I decided to make Bali my home.
I spent five years uncovering this magical place and it was one of the biggest gifts in my life. To have the privilege of living on an island in Indonesia surrounded by teachers and unconditionally loving people that made me feel welcome and always a part of their community, it’s a part of my life I’ll never forget. It is where Anna Beck was born and where our journey to this day, continues.
I know with no reservation that what we deliver with Anna Beck both in the beginning and now, is not only beautiful, handmade jewelry but also a piece of the extraordinary Balinese culture. A culture that holds the essence of gratitude, giving and receiving. With each Anna Beck piece you too will experience a sliver of the magic that is Bali.
Becky (Designer, Founder)