After just celebrating Mother’s day, and truly championing women everyday, we couldn’t wait to share our first mom to mom story featuring two mamas. Meet the co-founders of Juna –– Jewel and Taylor. They are working mamas who are tackling the CBD space in an innovative and thoughtful way. Their mission is to design the most effective, plant-powered formulas for the modern woman.
Q: How did your partnership come about –– and from that partnership how was Juna born?
J: Juna had been in the works since early 2017 and launched in 2018. I found CBD in 2015 and really fell in love with the compound for all its transformational benefits. It was a little soon to launch something –– nobody knew what CBD was, Colorado hadn’t legalized it yet, people were even scared of me when I told them to take CBD. I just kept waiting for the right moment to come and building relationships with chemists, farmers, medical experts, and investors for the course of those years. Finally, the right time came. I had been looking for a co-founder since day 1. I was pretty forward about it and had lots of people interested and who wanted to be a part of it, but intuitively there was no one that I really connected with, and no one that I thought saw how this could benefit myself and other moms in the same way. I was introduced to Taylor by someone who used to work at Lunya and from there it was like the perfect first-date. I knew I wanted her to be the co-founder, but I was too nervous to say anything right away.
T: None of our initial conversations had anything to do with me becoming co-founder or anything like that. Multiple people just started connecting us. I’m not a woo woo person –– but I feel like the universe really brought us together. We have such complimentary backgrounds, skill sets and experience. We are the yin and the yang –– we bring very different things to the table but work so collectively well together, and I think we also just enjoy each other. I always say… there are 3 things I look at with a brand before I work with them, or help them out to make sure that I can make it successful. One, it has to be able to solve a problem. The second thing is to make sure that it is a repeat purchase and the third is that it really fits into people's routines. Juna had all 3 and then when I tried the product that’s when I was sold. I came on as co-founder/CMO and I feel like at that point we started refining the brand, our voice, our target demo, and our messaging. We really felt like focusing in on helping moms was important because we are both moms and understood the need. We felt like collectively women everywhere were experiencing this schedule overload –– all these things we have to manage with ourselves, then our kids, and beyond. We felt it as entrepreneurs and mothers and we felt like it was really time to solve this problem and help women like us find some relief.
J: Yeah and I think being a mom is space and time out of the day where we are really focusing on our kids, but I would say all day long mentally that mothering is in your periphery. You’re constantly thinking of it and aware of it and when you still have a small baby like Taylor, physically your body is in demand all the time. Whether you’re nursing or trying to recalibrate hormones. We felt this for women, and just knew we had to bring in something that would support the body and mind of young mothers. We wanted to really help with long term benefits. Constantly working within the body to create that homeostasis.
T: We are just trying to show up the best we can and that’s what it is all about. If I can optimize my life, or myself in any way then I can show up better for my daughter, my husband, myself.
Q: Jewel – I know that you have a culinary background and that can be super stressful. What were you experiencing in your own life that led you to really start this business?
J: I had a chocolate company prior to this and I was working with a chemist in France to extract these different compounds with cacao. We had a cult following from here to Japan. We were arguably one of the first adaptogenic superfoods to the market. We launched in 2009 but I think we were too early. We launched with Barney’s and they thought this was the next iteration in beauty. Coming from the restaurant industry you’re looking at food in two ways –– you’re looking at its purity or you’re trying to reconstruct it and rebuild it. So I did both with the cacao bean. How do I take the chocolate in its purest form but also deconstruct it and bring out what its best attributes are. Then I found it was full of all these amazing things, it truly was this superfood with all these medicinal effects. The local cannabis community took note and asked me to help with formulations, but at the time I wasn’t interested. But the conversation started changing over the years and one of my friend’s dad had an opportunity to work with a scientist at UCSF with the cannabinoids. And that’s when I realized you know this isn’t just “edibles,” anymore there is something here. And that is when I found CBD. I had already had one daughter, but I was thinking about getting pregnant again. While I started playing around with CBD my firstborn was a toddler and I was really feeling this incredible sense of overwhelm and I think a lot of that was hormone related and environment. If this compound actually has the potential to do what it says it can do this can be a game changer. So I really went out and tried to experience it on my own. It was just this evolution of experiences through what I had done and how people were digesting what I had done and what led me to the compound.
T: Jewel is also a level 1 sommelier!
J: Yes haha I am very particular about potency and taste and all those things. But I truly believe 1000% that CBD is one of the most transformational ingredients on the planet.
T: CBD was probably one of the top search terms last year! It’s a very saturated and competitive space, but I think that’s what is so great about Juna and how we are different. With Jewel’s background in the culinary space and being so focused on ingredients we really put that at the forefront of our product non-negotiables. Jewel has sourced the best organic, boutique farms. Everything is third party tested. We are really transparent with the testing results, we are making sure that it is all super pure and effective and also, that it tastes good. She does such a great job on making sure that we have the best product that we possibly can on the market because there is a lot of false advertising out there. We are pending our B corp certification and we have really put the effort into the back end to make sure we are giving women the best trusted products in CBD that they can get.
Q: How did COVID affect the business, if for better or for worse and how did you manage everything with the kids at home –– how was that journey?
T: I had my daughter on march 1st of 2020, so it was literally a week before shit really went down with covid. I was planning on taking a little bit of maternity leave and maybe took a week haha. When COVID hit, everything started booming for us and I feel like it was a turning point for our brand. If people weren’t stressed before, they sure were once COVID hit. We really got the product in front of more eyes and to more people. It was a crazy time, I had a newborn and just had to get back to work with everything going on. We had to divide and conquer and it was a whole new dynamic with having a baby. Right after I had my daughter, Blake, there was a new clarity I had. I would be breastfeeding every two hours and in the middle of the night these great ideas would come to me. It was a stressful time but also the best year. Jewel and I were set up to be in a good space for it because we work remote already. Jewel is in SF and I am in OC, so nothing really changed with our work dynamic.
J: In a way it was kind of an exhilarating year because there was just so much change and things were happening so quickly. And we were fundraising and getting full traction.
T: Yeah and to be fully candid, there was added stress because both of our husbands lost their jobs during covid. My daughter was a newborn so I didn’t have to worry about homeschooling, but it was a lot for Jewel with a teenager and an eight year old.
J: I mean it’s all the same at the end of the day, but it was a whole new layer. I was trying to teach math on youtube and i was just like f*ck it. They changed it… There is no more carrying the one haha. Finally I just gave up.
Q: So you’re fundraising, business is booming, your husbands lost their jobs –– what shifted in terms of how to do it all –– was there added pressure to get your funds raised, to really get things moving. How did you guys handle all of it?
T: We tackled it the only way we can. We took it day by day, we can only do so much in a day you know. It’s so great having each other cause we can really pick up the slack when the other person is pulled in another direction. We just have to take each day and do the best we can, and make sure it's still fun. There is no back up plan. It needed to work. This is what we believe in and this is what we're passionate about. Added pressure, yeah definitely. It was extremely stressful but that's just part of the course you know, we signed up for this by starting a company.
J: We closed a pre seed and a portion of that pre seed was through a crowdfunding campaign that was specifically generated for marketing purposes and we have been putting those funds to use and we are about to go in and raise a subsequent round which is really exciting. We laugh these days because I don’t even know how many decks we have gone through for investors.
Q: I love hearing all about your grit and determination in such an unprecedented year. I want to ask the one question we always ask mamas. What does being a mom mean to you? Especially as the first co-founders and working mamas we are interviewing, what does being a mom and entrepreneur mean to you?
T: I feel like when I met my daughter and when I became a mother, I met a whole new me. I have learned things from her that I just never knew were a part of me. People that know me would say that I’m not very emotional, but I just have a deeper love that I never knew I was capable of and a new clarity and outlook on everything.
J: I mean I feel the same. You see the world through completely different eyes once you have children involved. I am incredibly emotional, but I truly believe that my girls are here to teach me everything. They teach me so much all the time and they also really infuse themselves into Juna all the time without even realizing it. I was thinking this morning how many hours a day their lives probably consist of Juna because they hear me talking about, or whatever it is. They give great ideas and great feedback and they just help me so much. I am also inspired to do really good business. Sustainable business. Sustainable growth. Profit. Because we want to be able to give back to our families because we want to show the world that we can do it, to show the girls that we can do it. I think that Juna is part of my evolution. The boundaries just feel so blurred to me. It’s all about the collective and it’s all about taking care of each other and listening to each other. We just want to show up as the best versions of ourselves.
T: I think its nice that we are both mother’s –– not only do I get great advice from Jewel, but because we are both mother’s we know how to support one another in a bigger way too. There are some days where one of us has to cut out early, or do something for our daughter. We get work done, trust one another, support one another, sometimes I put Blake down and I’m working at 9pm at night, or on a Sunday. I don’t know if we would even be able to do those things if we were at a traditional company that was being run by men. It’s kind of crazy how society and the world is built around this 9-5 and doesn’t really support mother’s in the workplace like they should. It’s actually really crazy when you think about it. We just have to be okay with imperfection. We can’t do it all, but we’re just trying to do the best we can. And allowing that is so important.
Q: Any advice you have for fellow working moms, fellow founders, women in general?
J: Honestly just step into your intuition sooner than later. That's the best advice I have ever been given and if you can truly do it, less is more and everything happens quicker. Everything is in flow.
T: Yes, trust your gut!! And for us too, we have to be decisive. Trust our gut and go quick, because if you don’t there just isn’t time.