I'm excited to be interviewing June from Sass + Bo, an online shop that provides beautiful gifts either made locally in the US or purchased through Fair Trade programs that help provide economic stability to women in developing nations.
Make sure to enter our Instagram contest (see original post @the.wellness.stylist) for your chance to win a Dutchess Tote from Sass + Bo!
Tell Me a little bit about yourself…what best describes you?
I live in New York and have lived up and down the east coast. I graduated from college with a degree in psychology and business and briefly worked as a tutor before fully committing to staying home with my son (and the next two kids when they came along!). I have a tiny Shetland sheepdog named Bo. I’m a coffee addict, book lover, brand new gardener (home grown organic fruits and veggies are awesome) and learning to balance a business and babies.
What Inspired you to start your shop/business?
After having my third child and shopping for gifts for pregnant friends I started to feel really overwhelmed by the sheer amount of “stuff” available for babies and kids. So much of it was really poor quality, made in factories with terrible working conditions or the products were full of plastics that would be tossed out in a couple of years. I started trying to research fair trade items and unique handmade things. The more I saw the more I realized that I wanted to promote this type of buying versus the typical disposable items a lot of us tend to buy. I wanted to make people aware that buying fair trade and organic items is not necessarily any more expensive or harder to do than buying the typical mass produced items we see. While we could all stand to consume less, you don’t need to feel guilt over buying a toy or product when you know that your purchase is kind to the earth and benefits real people (many of whom are also moms) and communities, not just giant corporations.
How did you decide on your business name?
I really agonized over the name! I would constantly text my best friend ideas and she’d shoot them down (with good cause, several of them were pretty silly). I finally settled on Sass + Bo because it was unique. Sass is our nickname for my daughter and Bo is my puppy’s name, so it reminded me of two sweet, innocent, playful creatures in my life.
What makes your product/business unique?
Everything in the shop is either supplied through fair trade organizations, handmade here in the U.S. or purchased from a local, certified organic producer. I wanted to know exactly where all of our goods were coming from and how they were being produced. In addition to knowing where our products came from, I wanted to find ways to give back. Right now 30% of the proceeds from our jersey scarves go to St. Jude Children’s Research hospital which is a really amazing organization that is fighting childhood cancer and providing free treatment to patients. 30% of the proceeds from our Mama Bear Cuff Bracelets go to Every Mother Counts which provides medical supplies and midwifery training to underserved areas in the U.S. and across the world. I wanted to ensure that every product was beneficial in some way.
What’s Your favourite part about running your own business?
I love being able to follow my own ideas and inspirations. I really love how I’ve been able to reach out and build relationships with other moms. In the short time this shop has been up and running I’ve already met amazing moms and business owners. On our social media accounts I try to not only share products but really share some of the joys and struggles of motherhood. It feels so great when people respond and say “I agree!” or “I thought I was the only one who felt this way!”. Just being able to bond with other moms and say “hey, I’ve been there and you’re not alone” is such a great feeling.
What’s The hardest part about running your own business?
It can be a little overwhelming to feel like success of every aspect of the shop is on me. With the freedom comes responsibility. I’m behind all the social media accounts, the buying, photographing, packing and mailing orders. I pour a lot of myself into finding the right products and reaching out to the public with them and you always fear people just won’t be interested. So far that hasn’t been the case, luckily, and it’s been great meeting new people and seeing the store slowly take off.
What’s it like being an entrepreneur and a mother?
When I first started the whole process I was so busy that I felt really guilty, as if I were taking away extra patience and attention I would’ve had reserved for the kids and pouring into something for myself. However, things calmed down a little bit after the initial frenzy of starting up, and I realized that it’s really important for the kids to see me following through on my own goals and working to make a meaningful company. I’ve explained to my oldest why I’m doing this and he was really supportive, and the two youngest get to see me being a mom and business woman.
What does a day in your life look like?
I usually get up at 6 and get my oldest ready for school. After he’s on the bus I check my emails and update the social media accounts and get myself ready for the day. After that the two youngest are up, and on days when my four year old isn’t at preschool we spend the morning running errands and heading to the park or library. In the afternoon, while they nap I make any updates to the shop site, respond to emails and comments and work on photographing products. Around 2:30 my oldest gets home from school and we work on his homework or projects. Late afternoon we usually stay home and the kids get plenty of time outside before dinner and bedtime. Once they’re in bed it’s back to emails, updating Instagram and Facebook and packing any orders that have come in. After that my husband and I watch Netflix or read together (and probably stay up way too late talking). It’s a whole lot of balancing kids, business and my own sliver of me-time. I don’t always get it quite right but I’m hoping it gets easier!
Where do you see your business in five years time?
I’m hoping that in five years we will be firmly established and ready to grow. I’d also love to be working with more charitable organizations at that point. A real dream that my husband and I share would be to get into the microfinance side and work one on one with the producers of our fair trade products.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
One of the best parts of starting this business has been bonding with other moms. We hear so much about “mommy wars” but I’ve found that there are so many other moms looking for someone to relate to and looking for the reassurance that we’re not alone in the rollercoaster of motherhood. I think it’s so important that we band together and support each other. I’m always hoping to reassure other moms that yeah, you’re doing a great job and we’re all in this together.