Introducing Boston’s Most Affordably Hip Shades

Designer Jonathan Severe's line of Taraji P. Henson-inspired sunglasses are bold, stylish, and won't break the bank.

“Bold N’ Famous” sunglasses, $85, Niraji. / Photo by Mona Miri

What do you do when you need a pair of statement sunglasses but don’t feel like blowing your budget? If you’re anything like 29-year-old Bostonian Jonathan Severe, you find a way to make your own. Getting ready for a trip to California nearly two years ago, Severe couldn’t find affordable shades that suited his style. So the one-time med school hopeful decided to change tack and create his own line of hip, durable sunnies that wouldn’t break the bank. The tagline? “Be bold, be brave, be distinct.”

And that is quintessential Jonathan. When you meet him, he’s larger than life, standing at 6-foot-2 with a friendly smile and a warmth to his personality. Though not from a fashion school background, the Haitian-American designer has always been mesmerized by accessories. Eyewear, in particular, can “elevate an outfit whether you are dressed up or dressed down because when people look at you, the first thing they see is your face,” he says.

Niraji founder Jonathan Severe shows off his sleek pop-up at Bow Market, which ran through March 11. / Photo by Mona Miri

The name Niraji, Severe explains, was inspired by actress Taraji P. Henson—her bold style, her struggles as a single mom, and her rise to fame despite all odds. “To see someone similar to me break barriers and set new ceilings has been groundbreaking,” he says. Reminiscent of popular labels like Chimi or James Oro but at a slightly lower price point (all under $100), the brand’s 19 current styles are available both online and in pop-ups, including one that was at Bow Market through March 11. All of the sunglasses are standard UV400, and he also offers polarized eyewear as well as blue-light-filtering glasses that transition into sunnies, working with a local optician to handle all prescription orders.

While Severe’s sunglasses are popular with local professionals ages 24 to 55, his dream is to establish a multimillion-dollar brand that creates more job opportunities and connects with people on an emotional level. And when it comes to that part, at least, he’s already well on his way: If you look at the arms of each pair of his eyewear, you’ll see the words, “Your Shades. Your Story.” From the sound of it, Severe has a pretty good story of his own.


Photo by Dresay Production/Niraji

1. “Bold N’ Chic” sunglasses, $90.

Photo by Dresay Production/Niraji

2. “Brave N’ Confident” sunglasses, $85.

Photo by Dresay Production/Niraji

3. “On Point” sunglasses, $85.

First published in the print version of the March 2023 issue, for the Shop Talk column, with the headline, “Bright Idea.”