“We’re both so lucky and have so much that we should be thankful for,
and we wanted to be able to give back in some sort of way.”
–Harris Parker, co-founder, Boho Beads
by Mimi Montgomery
photograph by Travis Long
Whitley Henderson and Harris Parker have been best friends since childhood. Now, the Broughton High School graduates are also partners in a bohemian-inspired jewelry company, Boho Beads, which they launched in August 2013. “We’ve always been making bracelets, ever since we were in middle school,” says Henderson. It started with jewelry for themselves, then for their friends, then for friends of friends, and then they found themselves shipping their work to strangers outside of Raleigh. “Our moms had to drive us to the post office because we didn’t even have our licenses yet,” says Parker. Word continued to spread about their original beaded-tassel necklaces and bracelets, primarily through the pair’s huge Instagram base – Boho Beads has over 10,000 followers – and in February 2014, Ginkgo in Albany, Ga. was the first store to carry the beaded jewelry. They’ve since expanded their selection to a diverse array of trendy necklaces and bracelets sold in over 75 stores in the U.S., the Bahamas, and Israel, as well as online.
Meanwhile, Henderson is a junior communications major at East Carolina University and Parker a freshman textile brand management and marketing major at N.C. State. They still make all of their jewelry themselves from the huge deliveries of beads they order from the Philippines, China, India, and Africa. The girls someday hope to have employees of their own and open a store. Until then, they’re busy with school, their company, and giving back to their community: This month, they’re hosting a trunk show where shoppers will receive a discount if they bring in toys to donate to Toys for Tots. It’s their way of using their huge following to do some good, says Parker. “We wanted to be able to help people other than our customers.”
Trunk Show: December 11, 5 – 9 p.m.; December 12, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; 2708 Lakeview Drive; One toy: 15% discount, two toys: 20% discount, three toys: 25% discount; bohobeadsraleigh.com