Today’s guest is Emily Soloby, CEO of Juno Jones - The Stylish Safety Boot Company. In today's episode, we discuss the Juno Jones - The Stylish Safety Boot Company and its origin. The progress Emily and her team have made throughout the years to take the company nationwide all through organic web traffic is remarkable. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, this episode will inspire you to take the next step in making your dreams a reality!
Welcome back to the She’s Wild the Podcast for Women In Land & Development. Today’s guest is Emily Soloby, CEO of Juno Jones - The Stylish Safety Boot Company. Emily has been on a mission to help women from the beginning of her career. While earning her BA in Women's Studies, she worked as a domestic violence victim advocate. During law school she served as Legal Intern at the National Organization for Women in DC, which solidified her passion for advocacy work. Following law school, Emily worked as a trial attorney with Legal Aid, helping women and children in family law and domestic violence cases. She went on to receive her Master's Degree in Broadcasting. As a lifelong boot lover, Emily not only bought a lot of boots, but spent time hand-making and learning the craft of shoe-making in Cuernavaca, Mexico and the Brooklyn Shoe Space in New York. In 2009, she and her husband Ryan took over AAA School of Trucking, a truck and heavy equipment safety training firm, which she has helped grow into a national business. It was during her years there that she noticed the footwear problem—there wasn’t any! Determined to create safety boots that she’d actually want to wear, Emily assembled a powerhouse team of designers, consultants, and industry experts to bring Juno Jones to life.
In today's episode, we discuss the Juno Jones - The Stylish Safety Boot Company and its origin. The progress Emily and her team have made throughout the years to take the company nationwide all through organic web traffic is remarkable. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, this episode will inspire you to take the next step in making your dreams a reality!
4:20- There were so many things I noticed that were lacking for women in the trucking industry, but being a fashion lover and especially being a shoe lover. So one thing that was really bugging me was that there were just no options for footwear, especially safety footwear.
8:46- I came from a middle-class household. I worked part-time jobs. It's not like I had endless money for boots. So I would save up for them. And then it would be a big deal. I'd go buy the pair of boots that I wanted.
10:24- We don't advertise. It's really all organic. At this point, we post about what we're doing on social. We have a Facebook group called hazard girls, we first have the Hazard Girls Podcast, and we spread the word through the communities online.
13:03- Obviously nothing would be possible without us having a good team behind me. So that's how I do it. I have a lot of people who are working behind the scenes to make things happen.
14:00- I think it's easy to get caught in decision paralysis and to kind of get caught up in, you know, working on aspects of the idea that aren't going to move you forward.
18:12- Every woman who is in a male-populated industry has a big story to tell. So we want to hear it.
25:30- Our mission is to empower women in these industries. It's really the main mission that we have.
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Emily’s Podcast Recommendation:
Welcome to She's WILD, the podcast for women and land in development. I'm your host, Nancy Surak. I created this podcast as a way to collect conversations of women in the land and development industry. I've been a land broker on the west coast of Florida for nearly 20 years. And I love to empower other women and to tell them about this amazing industry. But I find often that there just aren't enough women being featured on big stages, whether that's at local conferences, or nationally. So I set out to find these women myself that are killing it in my business across North America that are changing the communities that they live in every single day, whether they're building condos, multifamily, single family, office, or industrial projects. I hope that you will find this space to be inspirational, motivating, and educational. From time to time, I will feature women who are not only in my business, but also career coaches, and motivational speakers. Welcome back to she's wild, the podcast for women and land and Development. Today we have with us, Emily Soloby the CEO of Juno Jones Shoes, and the host of the Hazard Girls Podcast. Emily has spent her whole life from the very beginning of her career, working on women's issues and making sure that we're well taken care of, she not only earned her BA in women's studies, she went on to law school and then get her master's degree in broadcasting. And if that wasn't enough, she also spent time learning the craft of shoemaking. Emily, you're amazing. But what's even more amazing than that was that you actually took over a small truck and heavy equipment safety training firm that actually led us or led you and Ryan to create, Juno Jones, why don't you tell us a little bit about you know, how you did that? What made you decide to do it, and again, like, welcome to the show. I'm so excited to have you here.
But first of all, I'm really happy to be here and Nancy, I love your podcast. And I was lucky enough to interview you for the Hazard Girls podcast. And that's how we started to get to know each other. So this is just such a pleasure to be here. Yeah, I could tell you a little bit about the background and how I got into. There's some you're right, it's a bit of pretty diverse background, but how I got into the trucking aspect of it and how that led me to Juno Jones to start, you know, Juno Jones, so my husband Ryan, and I met in graduate school. And at the time, his we were both planning on getting into different fields. We were I was sitting we were both sitting broadcasting. And we went to work doing things in that field. But neither of us were loving it. And his uncle, who owned a small truck driving school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, wanted to retire. And it was just a small mom and pop a couple of trucks. And he tried to ask his son, be uncle try to ask his son, will you please take over this business? I you know, I don't want to do it anymore. I wanna retire. But I really can't afford to retire. So the son didn't want anything to do with it. So he went to Ryan and he said, Would you be interested in taking over this business? And Ryan talked to me about it. We were we were dating at the time. We weren't even engaged yet. But I think we knew we were going in that direction. So it just seemed exciting. It seemed like we there were so many opportunities, so many, so much opportunity for growth within the company. So we were living in Philadelphia at the time, so and we still are. So we took the business over from him. We figured out a plan to pay him off over a period of time, as we learned to the business. And we ran it and we and we really grew it. We paid them off. And then we just grew the business over about 10 years.
That's amazing. So So you're in this trucking and heavy equipment training business, you're out in the field, I would imagine or you have women in classes. And you noticed something very specific. Tell me about that.
I mean, there were so many things I noticed that were lacking for women in the trucking industry, but being a fashion lover and especially being a shoe lover. So one thing that was really bugging me was that there were just no options and footwear for safety footwear. So I bought safety shoes, hated them. Like never wore them. They sat in my office and never got put on my feet. So I would ended up just wearing regular shoes out and by the trucks out to the job sites. And I knew there had to be there had to be something else out there. But I looked and I could not find anything. So that's when I started talking to women. then, you know, in the trucking industry and then some women from Women in Trucking and their membership, and everyone was like, yeah, like these, there's no one addressing our needs, please do this. So I knew what the excitement it had, there had to be something, there was a big gap in the market. And because I had this background and shoemaking, and this, this experience in growing a business, and this background with women's women's issues, I just felt like I was the perfect person to do it.
What was Ryan's reaction?
Oh, he loved it. Lets you. He was all in from the from the I remember when we first talked about it. We were visiting a friend in Chicago, we were walking down the street, and I was just writing to me. And I told him the idea. And he just loved it instantly.
Well, I have to say like, I'm a huge fan, like, I think they're awesome. I have to I haven't actually gone out and purchased the one I want. But I'm going to actually today, because I think they're really awesome. So for anybody listening today, like definitely go out and check out like Juno Jones shoes, because for women in my industry, we're all in and out of the field, right? We're walking sites, we're on construction sites, we're doing all the things. So it's like a whole other market for you. And I know you went from trucking. And then you got into construction and you do a lot of stuff. I mean, you're like all over the place. I follow you on LinkedIn, and you're going to different conferences. When you look through like kind of where the industries are today, these male dominated industries that have a very large growing population of women, other than like shoes, what are some of the other issues that you're seeing or hearing from women in the industry that you think need to be addressed? Where are the other opportunities?
I mean, the PPE in general is is a huge one right now. And we have people that are really starting to dig in on this issue and address it. And I'm not just talking about businesses, we have people who have made it their mission like Amy Rossa of the Safety Rack, she started a she started a YouTube channel, reviewing women's safety equipment. And she's spreading the word like that. And she's that's going to be growing into a website as well so that people can actually purchase. But it's it's so it's, it's across the board with women's equipment. You know, helmets, gloves, vests, work, just work where like Dovetail Workwear is addressing the issue of pants. So there are companies out there now that are doing it finally, over the past few years, that's those have really cropped up, which is a good thing, because it's creating options. And it's bringing some awareness to the issue. But really the challenge is making companies and people aware that these options do exist. Right?
So you talked about, you know, always having this love of boots, but always fighting for women's issues as well. When you think back to when you were a younger girl do you have like clear memories of of course, I was going to end up here?
I don't think anyone could have predicted that I was gonna end up there. But it does make sense thinking about it, because I was just thinking about this yesterday. But I remember so many of the boots that I bought throughout my life. And it's such a strong visceral memory for me, like I remember my 27th birthday. I remember nothing about the birthday. Besides that I went to a store on South Street in Philadelphia, and I bought myself a pair of boots. And I don't have them anymore. But that you know, that's what I remember from the time. And so throughout my life, I can repeat that story for so many different times in my life when I went and bought a pair a new pair of boots and it wasn't like, you know, I came from a middle class household I you know, I worked part time jobs. It's not like I had endless money for food. So I would save up for them. And then it would be a big deal. I'd go buy the pair of boots that I wanted.
Yeah. And the worst thing that when you love a pair of boots, and they just wear out and you're like, they're it's like the worst?
I mean, you can remember them forever.
Yeah it's but it's like, when you've like finally broken them in and they just fit you right? And I'm like, Oh, these are not gonna last. You know, I digress. So tell me about like, what are some of the bigger challenges that you face in Juno Jones right now? Like what's happening in your business? That is a challenge. You guys are really working heavily to overcome?
Well, I think because there's so so many challenges always, of course with running a business. Finding the right team, we have a great team in place, but we need more. We always need more. So finding you know get putting that team together and getting just getting the getting the team in place who is going to be there for the company with growth and want to stay and grow with the company is really a challenge. It's but we do have thank goodness some people Who are have been great. And that's, we want to find more people like that. So we're hiring and that's probably one of our challenge biggest challenges right now. Yeah, and just just spreading the word about the fact that we're here.
Yeah, I was gonna ask like, how do you guys advertise? Like, how do you find the ability to do to find the space to meet your customer?
No, I mean, we don't advertise. It's really all organic. At this point, we we posted about what we're doing on social. We have a Facebook group called hazard girls, we first have the Hazard Girls Podcast, and we spread the word through the communities online. Yeah. So that's really how we're doing it at this point.
Awesome. And do you actually get into that design portion of, you know, picking out the leathers and that sort of thing? Or do you leave that?
Of course, that's my favorite. Yeah, so we do have designers on our team. But when it comes time to pick the latter, you bet I'm involved.
I actually like the red ones are like my favorite, the red boots. I'm like, I want those. Yeah, there's like two other pair that I really liked, too. So like, mine, like three of these
Red ones are fine, because they really pop. And there's not there aren't too many reds. I don't think there's any other red safety boots out there that I've ever seen.
I mean, I just sort of liked them. Because I'm like, I just imagining myself, you know, like walking with red boots on anywhere. And I'm like, what a badass, like, pretty bold to be willing to do that. They're awesome. So I can't wait to get them. And when I do, I'll like send you some pictures. When I would think that that would be a fun part of the creative side, right of the business of figuring out like, what do you want it to look like and feel like and design side? Do you guys do steel toe as well?
So most all of our boots are steel toe, we do have composite toe that are coming out in 2023.
And what's the difference between steel toe and composite toe?
Composite toe is made up like a polymer and it's a little it's a little bit lighter weight. The shape of it slightly different. But we have we put for our composite toe, it is still a now a little bit of a narrower toe as compared to your traditional composite show, which is kind of like a clown toe. Got it? This is not a clown toe.
Got it? Okay, well, maybe I should wait to buy a third pair now. So as you've been growing these different companies, so you've been growing? Are you still involved with the trucking company?
Well, I'm involved in as a consultant. And I'm also I work with women and tracking pretty closely.
Okay, so you bet you guys still own that? Yes. Okay, so you have that company, you have the shoe company? I mean, how do you do it all you have the podcasts? Like how do you manage all these parts and pieces?
Well, I mentioned about my team. And you know, it's really, I don't think, I mean, obviously nothing would be possible without us having a good team behind me. So that's how I do it. I have a lot of people who are working behind the scenes to make things happen.
So when you think back through the creation of Juno Jones, and your other businesses, what's been the most important lesson you've learned in your career so far?
The most important lesson? hmm. That's I think the most important lesson is to just get started, because I think it's very easy to meet that. That wall of what what is the phrase something called paralysis, decision? Paralysis. This isn't about you know, just that feeling of like, you don't quite know what the next step is. So you just don't take any step. And I think it's easy to get caught in that and to kind of, kind of get caught up in, you know, working on aspects of maybe the idea, your idea that aren't going to move you forward, like so, for example, when I come from a law background, so when I first started, you know, Johnson, the concept of you know, Jones, well, the first thing I did was try to cobble together the booth that I envisioned, but in terms of getting that company started, I spent too long on legal, okay, because to me, like it's all Oh, I came from a law, it's all about legal, like, I have to get the trademarks and I have to find the right name and get the URL. I think I took too much time and money on getting that done. I think I could have just sort of pick something and move forward. But yeah, so I think it's, I think like, we do that as, as people we tend to do that because maybe it's safe. It's safe to be in an area we know. So I know law. So it's it was safe in that area, just getting my trademarks together, I was making sure I had the rights to everything. Yes, you have to do that. But you have to do other things to move your business forward as well. So I did spend a little time period in that before we truly got rolling. And then And then, you know, once we got rolling, things were great. But I think if I did it, if I started, you know, if I did it again, I wouldn't. I wouldn't spend so quite so much money and time on the legal aspect of things at the beginning.
Interesting. So tell me, because I'm really curious. What's the origin of the name Juno Jones.
So Juno Jones, I wanted to think of a name that evoked a powerful and strong woman who has an adventurer who wasn't afraid to try new things and to take risks. And I wanted the name to be fun and easy to say. And I wanted it to also evoked the image of like a modern woman. So to me, Juno Jones was perfect. It kind of sounds like a superhero.
Yeah, it it sounds like a superhero. And it sounds a lot like I forget the name of the movie when the guys like running chasing the ball behind him. I can't remember what it is like,
are you talking about the movie Juno?
Maybe I'm not even sure.
A few people have said that to me?
I'm not sure
I'm not sure if that.
That would make sense. So let's talk a little bit about Hazard Girls. Because when you when I first connected, I was like, oh my god, I just discovered your podcast. And I've been looking for a podcast that talks to women in a male dominated industries and inland in development. And I mean, I had several episodes out when I came across Hazard Girls. And I was like, we need to connect or like soul sisters. Yeah. What I know what led me to starting she's wild. But what led you to starting as Hazard Girls?
Hazard Girls just sort of happened organically. I when I was first before we really launched the business, we were growing our community on Instagram and with our Facebook. And so that was the Facebook rip hazard girls came about first before the podcast. So we had our Facebook group hazard girls, and people were asking me to be on their podcasts. So I was on a podcast to talk about Juno Jones. And it was called the wham podcasts, women and manufacturing podcast. They are a part of jacket, media, co jacket media co puts up business podcasts. So after that episode, they asked me to be a co host, because they had a rotating series of like five, five co hosts five women. So I did that. And they offered me the chance to do our own podcast because we have such a rich, you know, set, we just have such a rich community of people and possible guests that could be on the podcast. We never run out of guests because we have this group. So if we sum if when we have somehow someone cancels, we go into the government, we say, can anyone does anyone like to fill in? Would anyone like to fill in? And there's so many stories to be told, and you know, this, there's every, every person who every woman who is in a male populated industry has a big story to tell. So we want to hear it. So that's how that happens.
Now, I love it. And, you know, I always talk about people ask me well, outside of your own podcast, like what do you listen to? And I'm like, I love Hazard Girls. And I And because I discovered it fairly recently, I go back and you were way ahead of me. I mean, you were you've been out was three or four years with your conten?
About three year well. Yeah, I think it's been about three years. I don't know exactly. We have about 100 episodes. Yeah. Which is fantastic. Two years must be about two years.
I think one of the first ones that I'd listened to. I was like, oh, this is this is bad ass woman like I would never want to come across her and I forget her name, but I think she
Was one of our so when we first started the podcast, I I hadn't done broadcasting since grad school. And I took me a little while to get in the rhythm. I hadn't done it in a while. So I don't know what which one you you were listening.
Wasn't you, it was one of your guests. I think it was the woman I forget her name, but she had worked in the construction side of Trump industries or like with with Trump in New York, and she was talking about like building these these huge, massive projects, like decades ago, how she was like, involved in this and she was I was like, Okay, this woman knows her stuff. And she great stories. So by it wasn't too long ago, and I'll put it in like put a Link in the show notes.
I want to know I should know this. I've had over a 100 guests. So but yeah, I remember that interview. It was the story was so incredible about what she went through working for Trump.
I think what really stuck out to me she told the story about how Barbara Barbara Yeah, there were writings in the stairwells on projects that were under construction and how she handled that, which I thought was pretty cool. But anyway, okay, so I wrap up every interview with several questions. And I love to ask these are for multiple reasons, but because I'm just like, super curious. Do you have a hype song? And if so, what is it? That hype song hype song, something that you play in your car when you're like, on your way to some big deal or some conference or a speaking engagement? What do you listen to? To get you like revved up and hyped up?
Roar by Katy Perry?
Nice. Are my kids love it? Okay, do you listen to or have a book that you've read recently or a podcast other than yours, other than mine, that you think folks here should check out?
The Empowering Podcast by Charlie Matthews.
Okay, tell me a little bit more about that.
So Empowering Women in Industry is an organization that they put on a yearly conference. And it's not just a conference of women and industry and, and other fields. It's a big awards gala. And for the past few years, there's been a women's work or a fashion show. But she has a great podcast. And they interview women engineers, um it's right up your alley women in all different industries.
I need to check it out. I'm so good. Yeah, I can't, I dug a lot. Before I started. She's Wild. And I was like, I couldn't find anything. And that's like my biggest feedback for Google and the search engine engines and Apple podcasts. So I was putting in all these key terms, and I couldn't find anything. And now that I have my stuff out, and I'm like, out here the world, I now I'm finding it. And I'm like, what, why was there such a disconnect? Because I was putting in the right search terms. You know, like women in industries, and I'm like, clearly, clearly, there's a disconnect. Why? You know, so anyway, one day, well,
Maybe we need to get more people to write some articles with some good SEO, you know, listing our podcasts, because I'm sure other people are feeling the same way that you do that they can't find what they're looking for.
Because a lot of my a lot of my audience, like stumbles across me, or they know me from like, just being in the business, or I'll have a guest in another market area, like yourself, and then that person will post about it. And then people are like, oh, my God, you know, like, this is the kind of content I want. So, you know, I don't know, but maybe you're right, I need to find somebody to be like, hey, help us. Because our voices, we're out here doing stuff for the right reasons. And we could use a little bit more of a lift. Okay, final question. If someone were to reach out to you and say, Hey, I'm thinking about taking over a family business, or I'm thinking about creating a business to server problem that I see in the industry, and I just don't know where to start. What advice would you give someone if they asked you?
I do have people come to me this question quite a bit. I'm always happy to sit with, you know, sit with people for a little, little time and to discuss it and give them some ideas. But I start by talking to people talk to women. I mean, that is really what the first thing I did was talk to women in trucking first and that expanded into other industries. So talk to people and really find out what the needs are, you may think, you know, and it might be what you would the need that you need filled. But if you really want to make a difference, you have to find what what the majority of people are looking for first and try to fill that niche and you can expand from there.
Awesome, great advice. Okay. Finally, where should folks follow you on social media? I think you've pretty I mentioned earlier, pretty active on LinkedIn. Where else? Well on
LinkedIn, I'm Emily Soloby. But you can find Juno Jones under the handle Juno Jones Shoes, so @JunoJonesShoes on all social media.
Awesome. And Hazard Girls as well. Correct?
And Hazard Girls? Yeah, hazard girls as well. So I think Hazard Girls might be a Hazard Girls Podcast on a few of the platforms, but usually, it's just Hazard Girls, and you can also find it. Find Hazard Girls by going to the Juno Jones website, Junojones.com. And then just click on the Hazard Girls link.
Okay. And for folks who want to check out the boots, they can go to the Juno Jones website and you can purchase them correct.
They can go to the Juno Jones website. We have we have a few retailers in the works for 2023. So we'll hopefully have some more locations for people Duluth Trading Company will be carrying them in the fall. And of course we offer a free exchange if anybody wants to change sizes.
Yeah, because that would be important, especially for work boots. You want them to be comfortable Okay, well, Emily, I want to thank you for joining me today on She's Wild, it's always so fun to talk to women who are really passionate about lifting other women up in our industries and making sure that you know, we can not only believe in ourselves, but know that there's a path towards success. And I'm super excited for you and the future of your company. And I'm happy to share it with the folks who you know, follow the show and say, you know, go check it out, go buy your boots from from Emily's company and help her continue to reach the highest success possible.
Our mission is to empower women in these industries. It's really the main mission that we have, and so happy that we you and I were able to meet and to work together on on these two podcasts. And I hope that we can continue to work together on more things in the future,
Same and if there's anything I can do, you know, to help you with that side, like hit me up, because I'm all for it. Anyway, you have a great rest of your day, and we'll see each other soon. Okay, thanks so much. Take care. Thank you for joining us for another episode of she's wild, the podcast for women and land and development. If you enjoy today's show, please go out and rate us so that we can be found by other women in our industry. And if you know women who are working in land and development, please share this podcast with them. And if you know a total rock star woman, badass chick who is killing it in land and development anywhere in North America. I want to know who she is. Please reach out to me so that I can feature her on an upcoming episode.