Be adaptable, separate business from personal, set clear attainable goals, ask for help, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. When starting a business, you will make mistakes, but it is all about how you learn from them and how you are able to make it work in your favor!
As a part of our series about entrepreneurs who transformed something they did for fun into a full-time career, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joyaa Cole.
Joyaa, a millennial originally from Chicago, IL now residing in Houston, TX is an IT Project Manager by day and Chandler by night, although her most fulfilling and rewarding job is being a Mother. Joyaa began making candles as a hobby but that soon developed into a business. Her Love of luxury candles, along with the opportunity to create them through the joining of art and science is how the Joe + Monroe candles came to be. Paying homage to both her grandfather (Joe) and her daughter (middle named Monroe) both of whom serve as monumental and inspiring people in her life; the Joe + Monroe brand was created.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I am an only child that was raised by a single mother.
What was the catalyst from transforming your hobby or something you love into a business? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?
I was simply looking for more. I had this desire to start a business but wanted to be sure that it was something that i was passionate about, then one day i just decided to turn this passion into a business…and here we are!
There are no shortage of good ideas out there, but people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?
It was definitely a challenge. I had no idea how to start a business, I didn’t even know how to register for an LLC. Creating Joe + Monroe and even perfecting the candles was also very challenging, there were a lot of sleepless nights. But, as with anything, if you give it your all, commit to learning and developing, the rest will follow.
What advice would you give someone who has a hobby or pastime that they absolutely love but is reluctant to do it for a living?
Go for it! There is no better feeling than doing something you enjoy and it being a stream of revenue!
It’s said that the quickest way to take the fun out of doing something is to do it for a living. How do you keep from changing something you love into something you dread? How do you keep it fresh and enjoyable?
This is true, when the business started to pick up, it didn’t feel like a hobby, it felt like a job! I found myself working everyday and I was starting to become overwhelmed. As a business owner, you must allow yourself time to take a break or that hobby will in fact turn into dread. Thankfully, i have a team now that is amazing and i also give myself time off to decompress and do other things that i enjoy!
What is it that you enjoy most about running your own business? What are the downsides of running your own business? Can you share what you did to overcome these drawbacks?
I enjoy the challenge, each day there is something new to learn or overcome. If I didn’t have those challenges or “loses” how could I learn from them and become a better business owner/leader? This is also the downside, as a business owner you might find yourself being your own worst critic — too hard on yourself. You have to give yourself room to make errors, but also learn from them. For example, I understand that I often lack time management skills and underestimate a project or timeline. Before taking on any large project or new venture, I take time to fully assess everything that is needed, delegate if I need to, and follow a strict timeline.
Can you share what was the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
It is more to it than making the products, there’s marketing and advertising, PR, customer service, etc! As a business owner, you will wear many hats!
Has there ever been a moment when you thought to yourself “I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to get a “real” job? If so, how did you overcome it?
Well, I am currently employed and I do enjoy my day job (9–5). There are moments when i think about being a full time entrepreneur, hopefully that day comes sooner rather than later!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It would probably be shipping, for some reason, I kept getting orders mixed up. I would sometimes send too many products in an order or the wrong item would get placed within an order. The main lesson here is to make sure that you provide amazing customer service. This could be the reason you have repeat customers or none at all.
Who has inspired or continues to inspire you to be a great leader? Why?
My daughter, I want to show her that you be anything and do anything that you set your mind to. Yes, it’s very cliche, but it is also very true. Our minds are powerful and that along with intentional actions will take you far!
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Throughout the year we pick organizations to donate to, usually those that serve inner cities or minority groups.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
In no particular order…Be adaptable, separate business from personal, set clear attainable goals, ask for help, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. When starting a business, you will make mistakes, but it is all about how you learn from them and how you are able to make it work in your favor!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I still have a lot of life to experience but as of now, it would be, “we become what we want to be by constantly being what we want to become each day.”
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Serena Willams, she seems to have such a resilient spirit, not to mention she is incredibly successful. I love her!
How can our readers further follow your work?
Visit Joe + Monroe at @joeandmonroe
Shop at www.joeandmonroe.com