Following on from our recent interview of Richard, this time we are interviewing the other half of the Joonya equation – lovely Leanne!
Howdy partner! Can you explain your role within Joonya?
When we first launched Joonya we both tried to do a bit of everything together. That didn’t go down well and led to arguments. We quickly discovered we had very different strengths and needed to divide our roles. You come from a finance background and are naturally wonderful at finance, logistics and keeping the engine room humming smoothly. I am naturally more creative and come from a marketing and sales background, so am in charge of everything to do with the branding, website design, marketing, driving sales and product development & design.
Have a go at explaining why we started this whole Joonya thing 5 years ago…geez that went quickly didn’t it!
I certainly didn’t intend to co-found a baby brand. It was never part of my life plan to be in business with my husband; and before children I never bothered to read the ingredients on the back of labels. When Ted was born, everything changed!
He suffered from extremely sensitive skin and developed chronic nappy rash after using various brands of wipes from the supermarket. His skin was so red and inflamed that he would scream in pain every time he urinated and change time was torture. The doctor recommended using barrier creams, cool baths and a few hours of nappy free time each day – the wipes and nappies were never considered to be the root cause. When we investigated the ingredients on the back of the wipes pack further we were shocked to learn the number of harsh chemicals that were used & questioned whether these should be used anywhere near a baby’s delicate skin! We switched to the ‘natural’ brands however they were very expensive, dry and needed dozens of wipes to change a nappy.
After trying most of the baby wipes on the market I couldn’t help but think ‘That could be a little different. Or I would love it if they were more this.’ So then I thought ‘Ok, If I could create a brand of baby wipes, what is my wish list?’ We dissected every component of the humble baby wipe from the ingredients, fabric, price point, moisture levels, thickness and even the design of the packaging. We decided to design our own dream brand of wipes which we as parents would want to use ourselves. Stylish, safe, earth friendly & affordable via a bulk offering. We were the very first brand to offer 24 packs of wipes in one carton – it was a huge leap of faith and customers seem to love the value!
Unlike most of our competitors, Joonya didn’t start in a board room – it was born in our family home. I believe being on the front line, changing nappies ourselves and fixing the problems we encountered has been our superpower.
What did your career look like before Joonya began?
Before Joonya and becoming a mother, I spent my entire adult life working as a sales and marketing professional. For over 7 years I worked with ACP Magazines on titles such as Cosmopolitan, Madison and Woman’s Day. The days were fast paced with late finishes a regular feature if on a print deadline or hosting an evening event for our clients. It was a melting pot of Australia’s most talented creative minds, writers and marketers servicing the biggest brands in Australia. I loved it, and learned so much about the mechanics of creating a unique brand. I am so thankful for the experience.
How does a typical day look for you these days?
Like most mums it’s a constant juggle between all of the roles we have. The boys are my priority in the mornings and afternoons when home from school, but the moment I come back from school drop off I’m in Joonya mode.
I spend my work time trying to build the brand in various ways. When I’m in sales mode I will be approaching retailers, distributors, or investigating new online platforms to sell on.
When I’m in product development mode I’m researching ingredients / materials / certifications, writing copy, applying for certifications, getting quotes and samples made by manufacturers, and designing packaging.
When I’m in website mode I’m designing pages for new product launches, improving the user experience with our current site and designing the emails sent to customers.
In social media mode I’m creating content with photographers, writing posts, organising competitions and collaborating with influencers and brands.
In retail partnership mode I’m working closely with our online major retailer partners such as Woolworths to grow the business.
What else can you tell everyone about yourself so they ‘know you’ a bit more?
I love people and everything that makes them unique. I’m that annoying person that smiles and says hello to random people in the street. I love to hear all about Karen from the bakery’s recent root canal or how the delivery driver Steven went fishing and caught a flathead earlier that morning.
I have a strange gift for remembering the lyrics of many songs but it takes me years to remember a new pin number.
I have always had a love for design and love creating beautiful things. As a kid I loved to paint, draw, sew, bake and make beaded jewellery. Now I love to pour all my energy into creating unique products and beautiful packaging for our Joonya customers. I find it very rewarding to witness an idea transform into a physical product that you can hold in your hands.
We have lived a fairly nomadic existence ever since becoming parents and launching Joonya. Over the last 10 years we have pitched our proverbial tent in Sydney, Byron, Bali, Brisbane and now the Gold Coast.
Lastly, how has having young boys while running a business been for you?
I love that Joonya gives me a bit more freedom than a 9 to 5, but we are really pushed for time. We both drum out as much work as possible while they are at school, but it’s a challenge. Society doesn’t give mums enough credit for the crazy amounts they fit into their days.
That’s about it for our founder interviews – we hope you enjoyed getting to know the team a little more!