Design expert? Consultant? Blogger? DIY enthusiast?! The list goes on…and on…and on. Joy Cho of Oh Joy! is one seriously impressive lady and we are amazed at her never-ending list of talents, and zest for life in general! We love hearing success stories that are derived from passion, hard work and determination…and that’s exactly how Joy built her incredible empire! Over the past decade, the business women and mom of two has taken her business from blogging to building a partnership with major brands like Target and Urban Outfitters. We can’t wait for you to read about our newest Get It Girl. Get ready for inspiration-overload!
You started your blog Oh Joy! in 2005 before blogging really became what it is today. You give some great tips and ideas on how to create a blog and turn it into a business in your book Blog Inc., but I was wondering if you could tell some of the Get It Girls out there your thoughts on how the blogging industry has changed? What tips do you have for those who are just starting out, especially now that it seems almost everyone has a blog?!
To be honest, blogging has gotten a lot harder! Some of my suggestions from a few years ago still stand, like:
- Do your research. There are so many blogs these days; It’s important to make sure you’re doing something that’s different and not too similar to what’s already out there (both in subject matter and aesthetic).
- Be authentic in what you write about; Write about the things that you genuinely love and would be excited to write about every day whether someone reads your post or not.
- Blog to share what you have to offer with the world. Don’t do it because you think you’ll get rich or famous.
What’s different now is that every day there are SO many more blogs popping up, so those three things above are more important than ever. But also, other forms of social media are important as well. You could grow a great social following through Instagram or Vine alone without having a blog at all. So…see what forms of social media fit your habits and aesthetic the best, and show your strengths there instead of feeling like you have to be everywhere (socially) all at one time.
I think it’s safe to say that you are truly one of the most successful bloggers, Get it Girls, and entrepreneurs out there. What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment to date?
One of my career goals was to have a line at Target, so when that launched last year, it was definitely one of my biggest accomplishments. We created four different party and entertaining collections over the course of a year, designed to make it easy to bring a party together while looking custom designed, but without having to do any DIY projects. I can’t give away too much yet, but we have more products coming out at Target next year, so stay tuned!
You had mentioned before that you got your start in New York at a boutique ad agency. How has that shaped your career? What advice do you have for Get It Girls that are starting out in the corporate world, but are looking to venture out on their own?
I think that your former jobs shape you in some way. Whether they help to establish your style or they teach you what kind of working environment you want (or don’t want) to be in. Work experience prior to starting your own business is invaluable and highly recommended. While my past jobs were not perfect by any means, they helped me hone in on my skills and see what I loved about what I was doing and what I didn’t like, as well. I also got to experience different management styles from past bosses, which has helped me make some of my own decisions.
Here at BFFF, we are HUGE fans of your instagram. It’s the perfect mix of personal updates, design and inspiration. What has been your favorite social media medium and how has it’s use impacted your business?
Instagram is my favorite for the very reasons you mentioned. It allows me to mix various parts of my life and my brand. And community on Instagram is more intimate and immediate than any other medium right now.
Your business has grown immensely over the last few years. What advice do you have for Get It Girls looking to grow their business and build their team? How did you grow your team and select employees for the Oh Joy! family?
It came to a point when I was getting so busy and I couldn’t do it all on my own anymore. I had been working by myself for so long, so it was a difficult transition to find people who would understand my brand and who I could trust and work with every day. But once I allowed myself to hand off some of the less pressing work, it helped me to focus on my business and grow even more than I could have by myself.
As for finding employees, I put up a post on my blog with a very clear application stating all the qualities I was looking for, what the job involved and a handful of questions that I wanted applicants to answer. They also had to send images of the Oh Joy aesthetic so that I could see that they knew what my brand was about. Once I narrowed it down to the top five, we had in-person interviews and I also had them complete some sort of test project relevant to the position. It’s so hard to know how someone will be just on paper or even in an interview, so I’m all about test projects when it makes sense.
What has been the most challenging part of your growing business?
Juggling my work life and family life. As a business owner, my work doesn’t really ever stop. But It’s important to me that I make time for my family. I block out time to take my daughter to school in the morning and pick her up most afternoons. I also spend one day in the middle of the week working from home, so I can take my youngest daughter to her music class and get some one-on-one time with her. I rarely work when I am home with my kids while they are awake, so I do work most nights after they go to bed, catching up on things I didn’t get to finish at the office earlier in the day. I have had to give up certain things (like watching a ton of TV or getting to work out as much as I would like) to balance that time out. But you pick and choose what’s most important during every phase of life and focus on being great at those things.
Your family is adorable and growing! Can you tell us a little bit about how you maintain family life and work life? Are there any tricks or “rules” you keep in your back pocket to ensure work time doesn’t cross into family time?
It’s been an on-going internal battle but I’ve realized I can’t do everything and cannot be a domestic goddess as well as a business owner, and do everything that I wish I could do in my head. I only have so much time, so I will allow help and shortcuts for things that I either can’t get to or aren’t as important for me to do on my own.
For example, if we don’t have enough time to make a homemade dinner from scratch, it’s okay to get take-out or delivery a couple nights a week. Or if you can get a cleaning service every couple weeks to help deep clean your house, I’d rather spend a little money hiring someone to take care of some of those random household needs and spend the time instead with my family.
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey from blogger to getting your very own line for Target? What has it been like working with one of the biggest brands in the world and what advice would you give other bloggers or designers when they are looking to partner with a large brand?
When I first started my blog, it was very much just a place for me to keep all my inspiration and design work in one place (Pinterest didn’t exist yet!). Once my readership grew, I was able to create a design business from people who read my blog and then turned into design clients. I made it a goal to work with and design for brands that I love, like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, and eventually Target. It was definitely a milestone in my career when we created our party line for Target last year.
My biggest advice for anyone with a similar goal is to keep putting yourself out there and show work that you want to be making (even if no one is hiring you to do that work yet). I think the biggest misconception is that these things fall into my lap, and that’s not true. About 90% of the bigger projects I’ve worked on were from me reaching out and pitching my work and ideas to a brand.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I’m constantly finding inspiration wherever I go! I like to make time every few weeks to get out of my normal routine and environment and go to new places. One of my favorite places for inspiration right now are the Japanese grocery stores in downtown LA. They have so many fun products, colorful snacks and packaging that you can’t find anywhere else.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and how has that shaped your career?
“Who says you can’t?” My brother-in-law said that to me early on when my business was first starting out and I had so many worries about if I could make it or not. We are often our biggest critics, so once you believe in yourself, you just have to go and make it happen.