Boh Runga Design was born out of a chance opportunity for Boh to design a jewellery collection for bullion business The New Zealand Mint in 2007.
Boh bravely jumped in head first and set about creating something completely new. She visited every jewellery store she could find, and found her niche in meaningful designs based on New Zealand native birds, with each piece telling a story.
The collection, ‘Birdland’, was adored and continues to set the tone for Boh’s trademark meaningful jewellery for gifting. Right from the start, Boh knew she had tapped into something special.
As a self-confessed ‘disorganised creative’, Boh partnered with friend Toyah Attwell (pictured), whose background is in management and digital marketing. Their complementary skill sets have kept the business both grounded and dynamic. As Boh was sketching initial design concepts and faxing them back to NZ, Toyah was working with local suppliers on samples and setting up the brand’s first website.
In 2017, Boh and Toyah got the opportunity to start their own business after Boh left the Mint Republic fold. They took on complete responsibility and artistic control, and began transitioning the jewellery line into a full brand experience. Within a few months, they had a flagship store in Ponsonby.
This stage was full of trial and error - building and maintaining relationships with new suppliers and stockists, creating point of sale and merchandising experiences, redesigning production processes, and building the brand experience from the ground up. Boh and Toyah were both on the store’s shift roster as they worked towards hiring retail staff. They recall months of delays in supply, and credit the loyalty of their retail stockists for their ability to stay afloat as they found their feet.
By the end of 2019, the business had reached a point of stability. They had a core team of five, a successful retail store, a shiny e-commerce website, and space to develop new designs and collections.
When they finally felt as though they could take their feet off the gas, Covid hit. After the inevitable panic period, the business could get through thanks to having already invested in their website and online presence the year before. Throughout lockdowns, Boh Runga Jewellery remained a sentimental go-to for gifters to celebrate special and everyday occasions when they couldn’t do so in person.
“Covid was a reminder that you can't control everything, and some things are going to go wrong. All you can do is look forward and move past it.”
15 years of rocksteady business doesn’t happen in a silo. It’s the result of passionate and hard working people. Boh and Toyah credit two key elements for their success: Laughter and relationships.
“We’ve always had really great people involved, and that extends beyond the immediate people who work in our business. We’ve had really great support from our key suppliers and collaborators.”
"We’ve been so lucky to have our amazing team members, friends and family who have helped us to no end to make this business work.”
Pictured: Boh and Toyah at the original Bohtique's first birthday.