Juniors Sophie Bokarae and Josie Henzlik create a bohemian jewelry company

Kelyn Lynch and Sydney Swyers

Junior Sophie Bokarae was shopping in Urban Provisions, a boutique located in the East Bottoms, when she was approached by the store owner, Savannah Northcraft. Northcraft complimented Bokarae on her necklace and asked her where she bought it; Bokarae explained how she and her best friend,  junior Josie Henzlik, started a bohemian jewelry company the previous year. Impressed with their product, Northcraft requested to sell their jewelry, and Bokarae’s smile immediately crept from ear to ear as she replied with an ecstatic “yes.”

“I was shocked but extremely excited,” Henzlik said. “We never thought we would get the opportunity to actually sell our products in a real store. The most exciting thing is the idea of walking around in downtown KC, seeing strangers walk by wearing our jewelry. That’s so cool to me.”

The girls gathered their materials and produced nearly forty items to present to Northcraft the following week. After many sleepless nights and hours of dedication, they were ready to present. Northcraft loved what she saw and immediately bought the products. Soon after, Urban Provisions officially sponsored Joso.free. Northcraft is a supporter of local Kansas City artists, which is one of the many reasons why the jewelry intrigued her.

The girls started their bohemian jewelry company, Joso.free, thinking it would be an easy way to make money and spend some quality time together, but it soon became much more than that. Spring break was just around the corner and teens from all around the district were requesting their boho pearl necklaces to wear as they lounged on the beach. Their bohemian-styled jewelry was an immediate success.

“There were so many orders,” Henzlik said. “We were up until midnight almost every night. At the time we were stressed, but looking back I appreciate those nights because it really grew Sophie and I’s friendship. It’s pretty fun doing something that you love with your best friend.”

Henzlik and Bokarae were inspired to create the jewelry after they saw bohemian pearl necklaces being sold from beach vendors in Seaside, Florida. As they stopped at one of the vendors to buy a necklace, they asked how the products were created and what materials were needed. Knowing this information sparked their success in the future. Once back at school, they received countless compliments and interests while wearing the jewelry. It was then that Henzlik and Bokarae realized the only way to fulfill people’s wishes was to bring the Seaside trend to Kansas City.

“At first, we didn’t know what to tell people,” Henzlik said. “It’s always disappointing when you see something really cute and you can’t have it. It seemed like everyone wanted the necklaces, but we only saw them in Florida. We took advantage of the opportunity and gave people what they wanted.”

Urban Provisions isn’t the only one fawning over the boho look ­— the jewelry caught the eyes of local high schoolers as well.

Teenagers are attracted to a variety of different styles, but the bohemian style is currently popular. Stores such as Free People and Urban Outfitters have embraced this trend and teenagers have flocked to it. The comfortable yet classy look that is associated with bohemian fashion works perfectly with the teenage lifestyle. This is one of the unique characteristics that Joso.free incorporate into its jewelry.

“I’m obsessed with fashion,” junior Lilly Hall said. “From shoes to jewels, that’s kind of my thing. What stood out to me about their products was that they go with everything. I wear my pearl necklace to school dances, parties, vacations and almost any type of event. Also, their products are simple and comfortable, which is probably why teenagers love them so much.”

Not only has Urban Provisions showed a massive interest in their company, but so has Lululemon, a well-known yoga apparel business. In the future, Bokarae and Henzlik will be hosting jewelry parties for Lululemon consumers, which will help expand their company to a whole new audience. The girls would also like to hold a workshop centered around creating bohemian jewelry similar to Joso.free products. Being only 16 years old when they created the company, Bokarae and Henzlik hope to be an example to other young people to always pursue their dreams and not let age restrict what can be accomplished.

“I hope this makes people realize that you really can do what you want to do, even at such a young age,” Bokarae said. “It takes hard work and patience, but Josie and I did such a simple thing and we are already taking off; it just takes determination. Creating Joso.free has opened so many doors to things that I never dreamed I could do at age 16. We love the experience and we’re truly blessed that we’ve had the opportunity to do something that makes us happy.”