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The Joon + Co. Boss Babes - Mom Edition
WRITTEN BY: KELLY BROWN | @KE1BROWN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CHLOEE COMET PHOTOGRAPHY | @CHLOEECOMET
Here she is...the boss babe behind Joon + Co. herself, Becky Vandenbout. Becky is so much more than just the face behind the scenes of Joon + Co. - she is also an incredibly dedicated mother of two children, wife and advocate for boss babes in the West Michigan community (and everywhere). Once a tech industry guru, Becky left her secure career to pursue the passion she always had within her - launching an online store featuring responsibly sourced apparel that would push people away from overstuffing their closet with with cheaply made pieces and instead purchasing with intent and treasuring each piece in their wardrobe.
So much of who we are is reflected in what we consume. We show we care about our community when we shop local and when we reuse grocery bags we are demonstrating a passion towards saving our planet. Apparel is one of the most outward expressions of who we are as a human being. More than ever, consumers (especially millenials) are pushing for a “slow fashion” movement - knowing where their clothing is sourced, how it’s produced, and cherishing each item in the closet. As a society, we’ve begun to focus on minimalism, both in our homes and our wardrobes. The goal of Joon + Co. is to support these efforts by offering truly timeless pieces that fit every season. Becky built Joon + Co. to fill an online shopping void where women could kick off their shoes, enjoy a glass of wine, and online shop while feeling good about each purchase they make.
In July 2017, Becky left her full-time position in the tech industry to pursue her side hustle full-time. Like many freelancing, side hustling boss babes out there, she experienced the usual hiccups and learning curves. “The toughest lesson I’ve had to learn is just how much I don’t know. Coming from over a decade in the tech industry, I came in with an unwarranted amount of confidence and quickly learned just how hard it is to wear ALL of the hats,” Becky says.
She learned, like most entrepreneurs, just how tough the transition can be from full-time employee (with an entire team) to relying on only yourself for every single business detail. “I was shocked at the difficulty of doing it all, having all of the responsibility fall on my own shoulders, that I ended up calling in a lotof favors from my tech days (hello, friends with broken computers) to learn everything from marketing to financial planning to fulfillment and shipment strategies, to effective community engagement and so much more. It was such a humbling lesson to learn.”
Freelancing is its own beast. But, opening your own store (AKA, purchasing inventory) is an entirely different story. While opening Joon + Co. didn’t require Becky to purchase a brick and mortar store, there was still inventory that needed storage space, photos of goods that needed to be taken, a website that needed building and so on. Being self-employed means the to-do list is never complete and work can quickly become life. Part of the struggle of being a mom, and a business owner, is finding a balance between work time and family time.
“The hardest thing to accomplish as a mom and a boss babe is balance. Balancing it all can seem impossible, but I’ve learned that doing my best has to be enough because that’s all I have to give. I’ve given my body, my mind, emotions, my sanity in a lot of cases to my family, friends and work...but rarely to myself.”
The self care trend you see all over Instagram is there for a reason. In today's world we focus on what someone is doing, what they’ve accomplished and what’s on their resume more than who they are as a person. It’s hard to not get caught up in the downward spiral of saying yes to every opportunity and spreading yourself too thin. Sometimes we need to be reminded that WE come first.
“I try to remember the cabin pressure analogy,” says Becky. “You know how they tell you to put on your mask first, then help others if the cabin loses pressure in an airplane? If I pass out from lack of oxygen, because I helped someone first, I’m no good to anyone depending on me. The same applies to raising a family and owning a business. When I don’t take care of my own mind and body, I am not the mother I want to be and it’s tough to concentrate on anything for the business. It’s always a work in progress but realizing and remembering that I need to take care of my own needs sometimes has been so important throughout this crazy journey.”
Becky launched her Joon + Co. style="display:inline-block; Boss Babe campaign to shed light on the women in West Michigan who are doing it all - running a business or side hustle, participating in non-profits, giving back to their community and being a mom.
“My hopes for the boss babe campaign efforts is that by highlighting and exposing the stories behind these empowered, amazing women with passion, determination and grit, it will empower others (of any age) to take the plunge, dive in, and learn smart, safe and inspired ways of following their passions.”
These days crying children, a business meeting or an empty stomach get Becky out of bed. But you won’t catch her slacking off in her free time. For fun, she likes to work because Joon + Co. is what she was always meant to do.
“Knowing that I’m getting up to make a difference in the world is my motivation. Not only am I living my dream, something I’ve aspired to do my entire life, but I’m doing it in a way that is helping to transform an industry known for its disregard to ethics. It is amazing and many days I have to pinch myself to know that it’s really, finally, happening.”
On the rare occasion she has a few minutes to herself, Becky enjoys tennis, playing the piano, crafting and researching trends and fashion designers in the industry. Her style is described as modern, almost Scandinavian with lots of white, black and bright colors. Most of the pieces in her wardrobe feature a structured silhouette or tailored look.
“My all-time favorite piece that Joon + Co. carries is the Lapel Wrap Jumpsuit from Hackwith Design House. A close second and third would be the Gold Velvet Violane Dress (Update: SOLD OUT) from Kristinit and the Grosgrain Jumper from Ali Golden. I am also obsessed with basically anything from Alabama Chanin because it’s all so clasically elegant and SO SOFT.”
For Becky, taking that plunge into her passion (Joon + Co.) stemmed from seeing missed opportunities at work because she was a woman. “I grew sick of trying to bust a glass ceiling that shouldn’t be there to being with. I was sick of having to choose between “leaning in,” and being perceived as too aggressive. I am passionate about teaching young women that they don’t have to choose a path. They can have a path of their own.”
All childrens' clothing provided by our friends at Treetops Collective
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Kelly Brown - WriterWebsite | Instagram (@ke1brown)
Kelly is a seasoned, published writer and founder of Writers Under 30 in Grand Rapids, MI. She's also a fitness instructor at Beer City Barre, competitive cheer coach, and avid egg eater. Most of all, she's a beautiful, kind soul, trying to live a conscious lifestyle.