By Christina McDonough Hunt
Designing and creating jewelry was not always something Joanne Parks imagined doing as a business, but through a series of events her unique jewelry business bloomed.
Joanne Parks is the owner of BOLO Boutique and specializes in handcrafted jewelry pieces made from spent bullets. She began her business four years ago after her husband’s career in law enforcement relocated them to the Kansas City area from Florida. “Kansas offered a better opportunity,” she said.
She originally had the idea of creating jewelry from spent bullets when she saw her cousin in Florida wearing a spent bullet necklace and she loved it!
“My cousin had cancer and was wearing a beautiful necklace. It had a spent bullet, a pink stone, and a feather. I loved it and thought, ‘I’m crafty! I could make that!’”, Parks laughed.
Not knowing many people in her new community, Parks began looking for a hobby. She remembered the necklace and started creating.
Parks soon learned that handcrafting these pieces of jewelry can be tedious. She says the most time consuming part is cutting down the bullets.
“Since I only use the top portion of the bullet, we use a Dremel [a multi-saw power tool] to cut down the bullets,” she said. “I do ask my husband to help because it’s a little hard to cut through the metal and the Dremel can be scary to use!”
Parks obtains her spent bullets through friends and also purchases them online when she’s running low. She uses sterling silver or surgical steel for the necklace chains and Swarovski crystals and charms to add flair.
Parks says she loves the process. “It’s quiet and relaxing.”.
She began selling her jewelry on Etsy and more recently on Aftcra. Her designs are a hit with her customers and include necklaces, rings, tie pins, cufflinks, bracelets, earrings, and hair clips, often with a crystal placed in the middle of a flattened spent bullet.
Her customers and family also help inspire her designs.
“I have customers who request designs and they help give me ideas,” Parks noted. “But, also, I make angels because I love them and cancer ribbons because my cousin and dad both had cancer.”
As a child, Parks’ father was a sergeant with the Broward County Sheriff’s office in Ft. Lauderdale, where he retired. Her husband is a current detective in Kansas and briefly served in the Air Force in the 90’s. These deeply rooted ties sparked her desire to honor those in law enforcement through the name BOLO Boutique. BOLO stands for “Be On the Look Out”, which is a common term in the law enforcement world.
Parks says she realizes that her jewelry is unique and may not appeal to everyone, but she’s grateful for the ability and opportunity to create beauty from a spent bullet.
BOLO Boutique also sells organic body scrubs, bath bombs, and salts. You can check out the products on Facebook and Instagram (@BOLOBoutiqueMO) and on Etsy and Aftcra.