Business & Baby
The year was 2009, and my husband-to-be Ryan and I were knee-deep in two big projects: a baby due at any moment, and getting our business, a transportation training firm, up and running. Our doors were open to anyone who wanted to learn, and we had students from all over our city walking in and signing up. Over the years we expanded into contracting and grew into a sizeable business. Our classroom slowly transformed from having just a few students in Pennsylvania, to training at locations all around the country. I’ll never forget one night working late, looking around at our packed classroom, with our 10-month old bouncing on one of our employee’s knees while I cleaned up the whiteboard. “We are going to look back on this and wonder if we were crazy,” I remember Ryan saying. Crazy but happy.
Here is a pic of my view from my office desk in 2010. Notice the open file cabinet, second-hand Pack and Play, yellow rocker, and excited new dad.
Inspiration in the Dust
One day we had a client meeting on the driving range, and I needed to go from my office to one of our vehicle training sites. It was a vast dusty lot with piles of gravel and rocks at the mercy of 40-ton trucks making backing maneuvers. Yes I owned a pair of bulky, heavy work boots but they weren't really me and so I chanced it with my the high heeled boots I was wearing. As a woman co-owner with my husband, the struggle to be taken as seriously as he was by our employees and clients was real. It didn’t seem fair that shoes were one more thing for me to worry about, and that I had to choose between safety and style. After searching extensively for something I liked, yet that would still have the high-performance qualities I needed in a rugged safety shoe, I came up dry. I knew I’d found a market gap-- safety boots that women would actually want to wear.
Me out on the driving range.
While running the transportation company with Ryan and caring for our family, I also took shoemaking classes, footwear industry courses, and read textbooks. I traveled to Brooklyn to learn how to craft shoes by hand using leather and an industrial sewing machine. Using our expertise (me as a lawyer, and both of us from running our now sizable national firm) Ryan and I gathered a team of consultants and designers, met with podiatrists, and conducted market research. We traveled to factories to learn everything we could about the shoemaking process.
This is a pic of me stitching shoes at a makerspace in Brooklyn. I'm a firm believer that entrepreneurs should know their businesses from the ground up.
Listening to You
Throughout all of this, we have been meeting with and talking to you. Through surveys, focus groups, interviews, chatting at job sites (and everywhere else!), we realized that the gap in women's safety footwear needed to be filled. Through our @junojonesshoes Instagram account and our Hazard Girls Facebook Group, we have helped to create a powerful community, working together to solve problems for women in non-traditional careers. We are collaborating with women in construction, women in science, women in professional kitchens, real estate developers, architects, engineers, women in manufacturing, and women in many other industries to bring you beautiful options in safety footwear, and to inspire women along the way.
In our next blog post, learn where the name Juno Jones comes from and more about our company mission. And most importantly: Please sign up for our email list below for an invite to join Hazard Girls, to be notified of the Juno Jones launch and to receive a discount.