From an early age, Tracy Johnson-Bomani had a passion for jewelry and combining accessories to make her outfits look great. As an adult, when she began getting phone calls from friends and family members asking what they should wear and what accessories would look best with the outfits, her husband suggested she make a career of it.
Thus was born Bomani Jewels, so named because Bomani is of African derivation meaning New Born Warrior – plus, it is the last name of Tracy’s husband, Walid Bomani, her constant inspiration and encouragement.
Bomani Jewels’ official debut came in the summer of 2009 when Tracy held her first jewelry showcase in the front yard of their Brooklyn home. She made up flyers with pictures of her jewelry and the slogan, “My jewelry starts at $1 and nothing’s over $25. Come Let Bomani Jewels Make You Beautiful!” With help from her family and friends, she posted flyers in local stores and dropped them into neighbor’s mailboxes.
The showcase was a big hit: in less than three hours, she made $200. “I knew right then this business was for me,” Tracy said. “People loved the jewelry, and I loved helping people decide on great pieces that were perfect for them.”
From the get-go, a major aspect of Tracy’s business plan has been to operate on a shoestring, keeping overhead low, especially by seeking out low-cost, high-quality merchandise she can sell at remarkably affordable prices that suit today’s economy. “I’m able to get and keep customers because they know they can come to me with $10 and walk away with great pieces at great prices,” she said.
Tracy often shops at the wholesale costume jewelry stores in Mid-Manhattan, where she can spend little money on jewelry that will bring her big profits. She has developed a knack for ferretting out jewelry that looks much more expensive than it actually is. “One of my secrets is to purchase jewelry without any steel in it because that makes the pieces turn quicker,” she revealed. “People like my jewelry because it lasts a long time.”
As to figuring out which accessories will sell best, Tracy said she keeps up with reality shows such as “Basketball Wives” and “Housewives of Atlanta” because many of her customers want jewelry that resemble the pieces the women wear on these shows – like the huge earrings the Basketball Wives are wearing now. “But my collection includes a wide variety of jewelry and accessories for everyone – from sweet sixteen to sensational at sixty,” she noted.
Tracy also has a unique way of testing a piece’s marketability: she is her own showcase. “Sometimes I buy an accessory and style it first,” Tracy explained. “If people give me lots of compliments on it, I go back and purchase a bunch more. Then they fly off the table.”
She also does lots of networking, including on Twitter and Facebook where she has many followers. She gives private parties in customers’ homes, with the opportunity for them to make 20 percent of the profit.
One of Tracy’s most fulfilling moments since she founded Bomani Jewels came last year in May when she participated in the Tilden High School prom dress giveaway, hosted by Macys and other organizers. “After the young ladies picked out their prom dresses, they came to my table, and I accessorized their outfits for free,” she said. “The whole experience was extremely gratifying – and the unexpected bonus was that I got a lot of coverage that helped my business.”
Tracy Johnson-Bomani now has her own flea market space for Bomani Jewels in downtown Brooklyn at 74 Hanson Place, corner of S. Portland. She will also feature her jewelry at the York College Performing Arts Center on June 2 from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., as well as in Gershwin Park (Linden Blvd. and Vermont St. in Brooklyn) on June 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Juneteenth Family Park Day, an annual commemoration of June 19, 1865, when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, bringing word to the state’s enslaved Africans that they were free.
For further information, please contact Tracy at (347) 404-0824 or [email protected].