Seen and Heard
Fashion on a String
BooJee Beads’ beaded necklaces give a stylish twist to
the boring ID badge
Is your employee ID badge ugly? You know the ugly kind – it dangles from a shoelace a round your neck or is awkwardly pinned to the front of your top. Professional women, including nurses, teachers and executives, can feel a bit like fashion duds when they’re forced to display this frumpy signage during work hours.
Luckily, a company has come along to change our plight. Bonitas International, based in Burton, Ohio, has created BooJee Beads, a line of beaded lanyard necklaces for displaying ID badges more stylishly.
Bonitas was formed in 2003 when Lisa Harrington, a pediatric nurse, saw an opportunity to make her coworkers a product that would add a little fashion to their everyday scrub attire. Her sister-in-law, Kimberly Martinez, loved the idea and helped her expand the business. Martinez recalls working at a large corporation and having to wear her ID badge throughout a formal dinner. “All the women wore fancy dresses, and then over it we had to wear the skinny, shoelace-style badges. It was a nightmare,” she says.
Today, the two women run BooJee Beads; Martinez is CEO and Harrison is chief development officer and sole designer. They have 14 employees in three states. While they started out selling mostly to medical staff, today their products are available at more than 3,000 retail gift shops in the U.S. and on their website.
While writing this story, I remembered that my mother, who worked as a nurse at a children’s hospital for several years, owned and wore a beaded lanyard necklace. She remembered the necklace as being “beautiful” and helping to dress up her outfit. Patients always commented on how pretty the necklace was, and it was a conversation starter that helped put her patients at ease.
Through their business, Kimberly and Lisa also are on a social mission to help women become economically empowered. They work with a nonprofit organization that guarantees fair trade wages for the artists in Guatemala who hand-string beaded eyeglass leashes and necklaces and provide scholarships for the artists’ children. And 10 percent of sales of their cancer ribbon goes to the American Cancer Society.
So, ladies, if you’re one of the 75 million women who are forced to wear an ID badge at work, maybe it’s time to ditch the shoelace and buy a BooJee Beads necklace – and do your coworkers a favor and pick one up for them too.