Written by Kristin Edelhauser Chessman
They're unfashionable, plain and boring. But for most business people, they're an office necessity.
Whether you've been forced to wear one while attending a conference or tradeshow, or you need one simply to enter your office building, chances are you've worn a lanyard sporting your credentials. Thanks to the prevalence and tackiness of rope lanyards, two sisters-in-law decided to create more stylish, colorful necklaces they named BooJee Beads, after the nickname of one of their children.
With necklace designs like Twilight (black swirl beads with silver tubes) and Silver Heart (a foil glass heart with silver filigree), company co-founders Kimberly Martinez, 45 and Lisa Harrington, 41, have made it possible for men and women to wear the proper conference credentials while still coordinating with their outfit.
It all started when Harrington dressed up her own identification badge at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital, where she worked as a pediatric nurse. Her co-workers admired her upgraded badge, and soon she began selling them at work, and even hiring her children to help produce them from the basement of their home.When sister-in-law and business woman Martinez realized the potential of Harrington's beaded necklaces during a holiday family gathering, she took action. "High on adrenaline and Christmas cookies, I put together a business plan on the back of a holiday card envelope and convinced Lisa she needed to free women around the world from the fashion disaster that comes from wearing an employee ID," Martinez says. "We both left our lives of working for others and never looked back."
In 2003, Harrington and Martinez joined forces and created Bonitas International, the company that makes BooJee Beads.
Thanks to her background as a financial services executive, Martinez naturally fit the CEO role, while Harrington's creativity inspired her role as the product visionary and chief design and manufacturing officer.