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“5 things wish I’d known before becoming a CEO” with Amy Richardson-Golia Founder of June & January

I’ve found that working with a team who really mesh well together in their personalities, and who are really supportive in their roles is much more important than someone who has a ton of experience in their field. While of course, skills and knowledge are important — our workplace culture and ability to work really well together, […]


I’ve found that working with a team who really mesh well together in their personalities, and who are really supportive in their roles is much more important than someone who has a ton of experience in their field. While of course, skills and knowledge are important — our workplace culture and ability to work really well together, helps drive our success.


In the winter 2010 during her first pregnancy, designer Amy Richardson-Golia began sewing newborn hats for her not-yet-born son and for her friends’ babies using hip, thrifted t-shirts. What began as a side project from her kitchen table in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, quickly grew into the now widely adored baby and kid brand known as June & January (formerly Little Hip Squeaks). With a background in graphic design, Amy started June & January by digitally designing printed fabrics for hats and blankets — and shortly thereafter, launched an Etsy shop selling the wares. Within 8 months, the small business became a full-time career and grew to add two ridiculously awesome employees. After more than 5500 sales on Etsy, June & January launched their own e-commerce site, added additional members to their team, overhauled production methods and expanded their line of products. In June of 2015, the company re-branded from Little Hip Squeaks to June & January, which references to the birth months of Amy’s two children. Today, the brand operates under their philosophy of “kids are fun, and their clothes should be, too!” As a modern apparel and lifestyle brand for babies and kids, Amy aims to bring quality, stylish and affordable essentials to trend-setting, hip kids (and their moms) in bright colors, bold prints and soft cotton blends. The company looks to expand in the future with new products and offerings, a wider range of sizes, and collaborations with brands outside of the children/baby space. June & January is currently based in Austin, TX where Amy resides with her husband and two children.


Thank you so much for joining us Amy! What is it about the position of CEO the most attracted you to it?

As the business grew, I stopped referring to myself as “the owner” and realized I needed a real title. As the founder of the company, I pretty much fell into the role of “the boss”.

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?

Our team is pretty small, which means as CEO I generally wear a ton of hats, including the product selections and release schedules. It’s not uncommon (even today) for me to forget what I’ve ordered, or order something that we already had full stocked. Luckily our CFO has noticed this trend and now he’s a much bigger part of the process of purchasing our goods. When you’re wearing a ton of hats and you see a habitual mistake, it’s good to bring in someone else who can essentially babysit you.

Specifically, what is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

When I started the company I had the highest goals of being able to quit my job — I figured I’d run an Etsy shop that paid my rent. Never in my wildest imagination would I be leading a multi-million dollar eCommerce business that has made the Inc 500 list.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I’ve found that working with a team who really mesh well together in their personalities, and who are really supportive in their roles is much more important than someone who has a ton of experience in their field. While of course, skills and knowledge are important — our workplace culture and ability to work really well together, helps drive our success.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Splitting off teams and having team executive officers make it so much easier to pass off high level ideas and have those members bring it back to their team on a granular level.

Who inspired/inspires you and why?

I’ve always loved Jeni Britton Bauer and her story, and the branding and fan loyalty of Jeni’s Ice Creams is just so impressive. She has overcome so many obstacles and hit so many walls but has continued to thrive.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have a tendency to have too many ideas and then put very little effort in executing them — I have two fantastic business partners who are able to weed through all my noise and find the things that can actually be implemented successfully and move forward with them.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We’ve been able to leverage our brand and social reach for a handful of charitable donations and events over the years including No Kid Hungry, Beyond Type 1, St Louis House in Austin, Texas Children’s Heart Foundation and are currently running a buy one-give one backpack deal for donating to a school in the Austin area.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Starting a business is a BAD way to “spend more time with your family”. My only goal when I started was to quit my day job so I could be with my son more often. Obviously that was pretty delusional, but I am incredibly lucky to have a flexible schedule that gives me an opportunity to pick and choose the most important times I need to focus on my family.
  2. There is more than one way to get where you’re going. In the past I’ve always compared myself to brands who started around the same time as us, and watched them fund-raise, or go on Shark Tank, or spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on digital advertising. It would be hard to watch that and not think “I’m supposed to be doing that”, but I’d always have people on our team reminding me that we could do things differently.
  3. Make a big deal out of your wins. I often have a tendency to think we should be bypassing our goals, not just hitting them — and that can sometimes diminish our success. I wish I’d had a better attitude in the past on some of those wins.
  4. Be mentally prepared for it to suck, a lot of the time. Some days, weeks and months it can feel like pulling teeth to get the things done you need to do — and it can take a lot of the fun out of what we do. I don’t know that I realized how mentally exhausting it could be to run a business.
  5. Take all the advice you can get. For a long time I’d try to stay in my own lane, but it wasn’t until I really opened up to getting advisors involved, or letting other C-level team members throw in a lot more input that things started to run a lot smoother.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Quality vs Quantity. So often female entrepreneurs get asked how we balance family with running a business, and I’ve always leaned into the reality that you can’t be present for your family and your business all the time — so I try to spend a lot of quality time focused on one or the other.


About the author:

Phil La Duke is a popular speaker & writer with more than 350 works in print. He is the author of two books, I Know My Shoes Are Untied Mind Your Own Business, and Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention. Follow Phil on Twitter @philladuke

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