Maria Fouce epitomizes why having an influx of newcomers to Nashville is a good thing. She came to Nashville in the early ’90s with a dream of opening her own jewelry store, which she did when she opened Anatra Jewel 12 years ago. Maria and her husband, Tom, also launched another successful project: the Julian T. Fouce Fund, which they started in memory of their son, a musician and cancer patient who passed away in 2005. She is preparing to close the brick-and-mortar portion of Anatra and focus on occasional pop-up shops and allow herself more free time for other interests. Today, though, it is with great pleasure that we introduce you to Maria Fouce, this week’s FACE of Nashville!
Where are you originally from? How did you land in Nashville?
I was born in Brooklyn and moved to Los Angeles as a child. Twenty years ago, I came to Nashville with my husband, Tom, and our two sons. In 1993, we took a two-week driving trip around the South (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee — we visited friends and family who had moved to these states). We were considering a move of our own, and Nashville seemed like a good fit for us.
What did you do prior to opening Anatra Jewel?
Before Anatra Jewel, there was Anatra Hair in Los Angeles. I grew up with a mother who owned her own salon, and at 24 years old, I opened my first salon. It was a great ’80s/’90s West Hollywood hangout with a hip clientele, including many jewelers, which started my connection to buying and selling jewelry.
Can you tell us the history of Anatra Jewel? When did you open the store?
I’ve had a passion for working with beautiful things: I love to garden and arrange flowers; I love interior design and fashion, and always have. Anatra Jewel came to life as my older son was finishing treatment for leukemia. It had been a rough number of years; I was needing to do something I loved, something new. That was in October of 2004 and Julian passed away in June 2005. Starting Anatra helped me occupy my mind when grief was so much a part of my life.
In Anatra Jewel you created a jewelry store where women can buy for themselves. Why is that important to you?
I would always buy myself a little fine jewelry trinket — I love adornment as a reward for working hard or special occasions! We women have a tendency to take care of others first (our children, husbands, even girlfriends). We know what we like but don’t often prioritize it. I set out to have a store with beautiful items at obtainable prices in which both women and men would be comfortable.
What advice do you give to a couple purchasing a wedding ring?
I love selling engagement rings and getting to know my couples and their style, as it gives me a window into what suits their collective personality. I remind them to think years ahead. How is that ring going to look to them 20 years down the road? Listen to each other’s likes or dislikes. Always go with what speaks romance and love to you.
You are closing Anatra this spring. Can you elaborate on why you made this decision?
I‘ve decided to go ahead and close this chapter of Anatra Jewel this spring for a number of reasons. It is no secret the climate is getting more difficult for small businesses across the board. I’m at a juncture where I would like to travel a bit more and just have more free time.
Having the opportunity to own and run a business in Nashville has been great. I hope to continue helping friends and clients by doing what I love, procuring beautiful pieces of all kinds without the constraints of a brick-and-mortar storefront while enjoying some personal flexibility. My plan is to hold a few events a year in a pop-up store setting, so be on the lookout!
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
You don’t need to know and do everything yourself. Hire an expert!
Where in town do you go when you’re looking for an inspirational boost?
What is your next restaurant destination?
Table 3 for a Corpse Reviver cocktail in the perfect cocktail glass, and roasted chicken, almost always.
Is there something people would be surprised to know about you?
What do you think distinguishes Nashville from other Southern cities?
I think it just has that special energy that a boom town has — with all the great music, to boot!
Do you have any good book recommendations?
My good friend gave me a book (perfect for the jewelry obsessed ): Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World by Aja Raden. It combines jewels and history, which is so interesting.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding God, family and friends?
Strong coffee, lipstick and Bravo TV
Thank you, Maria! And special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for the fabulous photographs showcased each week in our FACES of Nashville series!
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