If you’re just joining in, for the month of January we were inspired to change up our content for the month to focus on women who we find inspiring and can tell us about their journey of “becoming” based on our Book Club book of the month by Michelle Obama. You can read the rest of the interviews here. Stay tuned for many more!
Joy was one of the very first design bloggers who I had ever heard of and I was a fan from the start. What has always set her apart from the rest is how she always carried a professional, well-branded air about her creative work even when blogging wasn’t really a thing, or a lucrative one at that. My guess is that she somehow magically knew all along that something major was going to happen. And major it has! Joy has paved the way in the content creator world by partnering with great companies for licensed products. Companies like Target, Petco, Calpak and so many others. It seems like every day there’s a new announcement for a partnership. Joy is a supporter to all and loves to bring joy to the world through clever design projects and great product recommendations. On a personal note, I’ve looked up to Joy as a pioneer in our field who is always setting the bar high and has been so generous in offering advice. I can’t wait for you to get to know her better!
Becoming: Interview with Joy Cho
What did you want to be when you were young versus when it was time to decide what to actually do?
I wanted to be a…cheerleader, botanist, geneticist, writer, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting. But once it came time to decide on a major, I knew I wanted to create and I loved art. The very practical side of me (and the side that wanted to assure my parents I wouldn’t be a “starving artist”) found myself majoring in Graphic Design. I knew that major would allow me to be creative but it was also a very practical and commercial skill set that had lots of job options. And while I wanted to go to an all art school, I chose to go to a school that had a full-on university setting but a very strong design program so that I had the more traditional university setting to fall back on if the design thing didn’t work out.
My parents are entrepreneurs and had Thai restaurants when I was growing up. I NEVER thought I’d have my own business because I saw how hard they worked and didn’t think that I wanted that life! Ha! But here I am…very happy being a business owner, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
You were one of the first people to produce original content for your blog. What gave you the courage you to think that it would be a viable career, especially in the early days when you weren’t getting paid for it?
There weren’t a ton of models around for what the life of a blogger (now called “content creator”) looks like. Design*Sponge (Read our Interview with Design*Sponge here) was one of my very first role models in that arena so it was always cool to see what Grace was up to and what she was doing next. But for me, since I started my business as a design company, the blog was always secondary for many years. I needed to have something solid before I felt ready to focus on Oh Joy! (the content side of it) fully as a major part of my business. Once my first daughter was born in 2011, I had Oh Joy! for six years and the content side had grown enough that I felt comfortable leaving behind designing for clients and focus on designing and creating for our own brand.
Did you always have an ultimate plan?
Nope! I used to think I needed an “end game” plan, and I drove myself crazy for a while thinking I wasn’t serious if I didn’t have that big, giant goal for 10 or 20 years in the future. Social media changes so quickly and I have ebbed and flowed with those changes over the past 13 years of my business. From that, I have learned that I am OK with setting goals but they don’t need to be SO far out. We often work 1-2 years in advance with our products, but sometimes only days in advance with our content. So, I like the idea that I have some near future goals and plans, but that it’s also OK to see where the road takes us and evolve as needed.
What’s coming up for you in 2019? And your company?
This year, we are continuing to grow our product lines and partnerships into new categories, which is always very fun! I am also placing a big emphasis on education with the Oh Joy! Academy which will include an online class (coming soon!) on How to Grow a Team. I’ve also been making time in my schedule for one-on-one business consultations. I used to do a ton of them before my kids were born, and I’m so excited to carve out some time for it again because I love it so much.
What does your dream retirement look like?
Oh man! I haven’t thought about that yet. I still have so much more I want to do!