Mom Muse | Bonnie Basham Lance
Bonnie Basham Lance was born to design jewelry – art and the creative process has been a major part of her life since childhood. Long before she began selling her unique designs, she always made jewelry for herself and her friends. Her handmade art pieces are one-of-a-kind and have a natural, organic feel with a sense of whimsy. Designs range from signature pieces made with shark’s teeth and horn shapes to brightly-colored beads and tassels.
Bonnie models her creations.
A Bonnie Basham signature shark tooth necklace.
From a creative family (her father was an artist), Bonnie grew up in a small town in Texas and attended Texas Christian University (TCU). Upon graduating with her degree in public relations, she moved to Dallas and worked as an event planner, before joining the staff at D Magazine. Little did she know that this job change would launch her career as a jewelry designer and take her on an incredible ride. It started when the fashion editor at D asked if she could feature Bonnie’s jewelry in the September style issue. The requests for her jewelry poured in. She was so busy designing and meeting product orders that Bonnie started her own company and lined up representation to help manage her burgeoning business. Her business grew and eventually she had reps in Los Angeles, New York City and Tokyo. Celebrities like Nicole Ritchie, Lucy Liu and Jessica Simpson were fans. She was selling her jewelry all over the world and thoroughly enjoying the success, but realized that she didn’t want to keep up the same crazy pace forever.
Nicole Ritchie wears a Bonnie Basham pendant and Jessica Simpson sports Bonnie Basham earrings. Photo Credit: coolspotters.com
Enter Mr. Right. Bonnie met her husband Rob while he was traveling after a surgery residency and in the process of moving to Iowa to do an anesthesia residency. She decided the time was right to make a transition in her life and dial back on 24/7 designing. Now, the mother of three darling kids — Hewes (7), Willa (5) and Shep (4) – Bonnie creates and sells her jewelry primarily out of her home or at private trunk shows and in a few boutiques. In addition, as another creative outlet for her talents, she does sourcing and design work for YES Associates, a commercial and residential interior design group.
Bonnie and Rob headed to a black-tie event.
A Lance family selfie on a road trip.
MSL: Describe your style in five words or less.
Tomboyish, eccentric, random, hopefully classy, fun!
MSL: What do you like best about being a designer? What’s the biggest challenge?
I love accessories! I love accessories of the body, home, anything. The details I find are where the fun is. I love sourcing new materials. I love working things together. The biggest challenge for me is the technical side. Promoting it, organizing it, managing the website. I love to be creative, but finding time is tough too!
MSL: What has been the biggest moment of your career so far?
Oh wow, well I’ve had some big moments in my past as a jewelry designer. I had nice a celebrity following and had some large orders from Anthropologie and stores around the world, but now my life is quite different with three children and a husband. The biggest moment currently is having women come up to me with jewelry on they’ve had and been wearing since I started 15 years ago. That’s a lovely compliment and I appreciate someone who loves wearing my jewelry. It’s kind to be told and it’s even better to know it has had some staying power!!
Another signature Bonnie Basham look — layered necklaces.
Bonnie Basham embellished hoops.
A sampling of the designer’s colorful, embellished pieces.
MSL: What’s the one item in your closet you can’t live without, that makes you feel both chic and comfortable?
I have too many to count. I try and buy classics and vintage alike. I have a chinchilla vest of my mother’s I had monogrammed inside by Neiman Marcus and it’s so very beautiful… I have no words for it. It’s so classy and edgy altogether — it’s perfect. I have a pair of Terry DeHavilland snakeskin platforms (he designed for David Bowie) that are comfortable and priceless. I also love my husband’s belt collection. From a belt the kids gave him that is engraved with FATHER to a State of Mind with the Texas flag on the back and one from Africa. They’re just the right touch for making my jeans look cool. Lucky for me he’s super skinny.
MSL: Whose style do you most admire and draw inspiration from?
I love older women. I love Iris Apfel and her big crazy jewelry and glasses. I love anyone who just goes for it and is unique and confident. (So do we, Bonnie!!)
MSL: Do you have any tips on how you streamline one’s morning routine?
I like to go to bed with my hair lightly wet and pile it up underneath me. That gives me a beachy wave in the morning. I love BB creams that are dewy and light, but honestly getting your coffee ready the night before never hurt anyone. Oh the anticipation!
MSL: Developing a unique style comes at an early age for some children. Do you let your children choose what they’re going to wear? How do you talk about getting dressed with them?
I let my children do it all alone. As long as they aren’t making a temperature-bad decision or dressing inappropriate for school productions, etc. — I am absent from the process. I was allowed to do that as a child and it was very personality building. I do tend to encourage my oldest son to give the athletic look a rest occasionally and offer my daughter thoughts about mixing patterns more out of fun, but dark socks, mismatched shoes, wild colors, accessories and all, you learn and grow. And they do make so few decisions at this age it such an important one to let them. They are after all, children, not little adults. Kids dress SO cute when left alone!
We love what this Bonnie Basham statement necklace does for basic black.
MSL: Tell us something about yourself that people would be surprised to hear.
I think people tend to think, or I hear they do, that I’m so outgoing and have such a big personality that when they find I’m not great in a huge crowd it’s surprising. I really like smaller groups and love staying in on my back porch and hanging out. People are usually surprised to hear that. I won’t lie — I won’t turn down a dance party though.
MSL: What’s your best style advice for other moms out there?
Assuming people want my advice that is! I would say have fun, be original and be confident. I love a smile and a different look. Maybe take in a vintage store here and there too. When I look at street style blogs and photographs, it’s not the most traditionally beautiful people. It’s uniqueness. Happy and kind shows!
Bonnie and Willa.