Steel Tariffs Impacts Hires at Booming Women-Run Business

“This equates to three potential hires that would be impacted. Our choices are to either not fill these jobs at all, or outsource some of the work to lower cost overseas freelancers.” – Bonitas International CEO, Kimberly Martinez

Who would have predicted a wildly successful, long-standing women owned fashion accessories company would be feeling the pinch of the steel tariffs? If you would have told the sisters-in-law who created Bonitas International sixteen years ago, they may not have believed it themselves. And while the car and manufacturing industries seem to be the media’s sole focus in the story on steel tariffs, this specialty jewelry company is already bracing itself for the squeeze that threatens to slow down their legacy of explosive growth.

The firm recently hosted a roundtable discussion with Congressman Dave Joyce (R) regarding the impact of the tariffs in their newly-opened coworking space, organized by Geauga Growth Partnership, Inc., a local commerce development nonprofit.

Congressman Joyce was open to a chance to hear how the tariffs are forecasted to impact local businesses and pledged on his Twitterfeed on August 6th after the meeting: “I will always put American workers and businesses first!”

Eight local businesses who source from China or whose supply chains are impacted were able to discuss their particular situation with the congressman in an intimate setting. Overall, these companies are not able to pass on their pricing to the consumer, either due to contractual obligations or simply because the clients are price-sensitive.

How Would Steel Tariffs Impact Bonitas International, and Their Flagship Brand Boojee Beads™?

A rise in steel prices impacts the company by increasing their cost of materials for their steel-alloy jewelry products. As a result, the tariffs would increase demand and cause an increase in prices for other metals as manufacturers avoid the costlier steel.

Bonitas sells its products to mass market retail stores throughout north American and are unable to take mid-selling cycle price increases. Instead, the company would initially choose to absorb the cost by tightening their belt, Lisa Harrington, Bonitas Internationals CEO reveals.

“This equates to three potential hires that would be impacted,” says Harrington. “Our choices are to either not fill these jobs at all, or outsource some of the work to lower cost overseas freelancers.”

To underscore this, it means that three local citizens would miss out on the exciting opportunity for full-time work and full-time benefits for a fast-growing, female-lead business.

With the growing purchasing power in the rebounding U.S. economy, this woman-led company simply doesn’t want to retreat at the height of popularity.

With the growing purchasing power in a slowly rebounding U.S. economy, this woman-led company simply doesn’t want to retreat at the height of popularity.

Who is Bonitas International and Boojee Beads?

Bonitas International, parent company of the Boojee Beads brand is a fashion accessories firm. They have been listed on Inc’s 500/5000 fastest growing private companies 5x- a feat achieved by only 20% of the firms that ever even make the list. Bonitas International both created, and leads the category of Identification Jewelry globally.

It’s a Family Affair

Quite on a whim, Lisa Harrington’s daughter created a special beaded necklace for her to use to wear her hospital ID badge when she worked as a nurse at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in her former career

The response at the hospital where Lisa worked was overwhelming when they saw the cute upgrade to the otherwise mundane employee ID lanyard, and a kitchen table business was born!

At a holiday party that same year, co founder, sister-in-law and downsized Fortune 50 marketing exec, Kimberly Martinez learned of Lisa’s clever idea. She saw a bigger opportunity for the business and Bonitas International was born!

The duo named their first product line, Boojee Beads™ after Kimberly’s then-infant son, Brett (aka “Boojee”).

They launched a collection of designer ID necklace, beaded lanyards, retractable badge reel jewelry and fashion ribbon lanyards, which started the “identification jewelry” niche. The market response to the upgraded employee ID badge holders was overwhelming and within three years they had broken through the million dollar sales mark, a feat achieved by less then 4% of women-owned businesses

Today the company’s products are sold in over 7000 mass market and independent retail stores, as well as on Amazon and the retail website

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