I gave birth to my daughter, Indi, three days after Prism’s one-year anniversary, and Lucie just 21 months later. Raising my daughters while also looking after my “first” baby, Prism, has been amazing -- and a lot to take on. Now that I’m a mom myself, my appreciation for my own mother and all mamas has only grown. We’re some of the most hardworking and selfless multi-taskers out there. It isn’t easy -- that’s for sure -- but the love I have for my kids makes my heart explode with gratitude. It is truly a gift, and I’m still learning every day.
At Prism, many of the brands we carry are women-owned and operated, and I’m proud to see so many women-owned boutiques and businesses popping up around Long Beach. A lot of these businesswomen are mothers themselves, and it’s an honor to work beside these strong, talented ladies. We all share a deep love for what we do -- and for being mamas, too.
Mother’s Day is a special day to pamper our mamas, and to recognize how wonderful they are. In this spirit, I wanted to highlight a few women I work with who inspire me with their creativity and drive to balance it all!
Jolie Dionisio, Wild Child Party & Supply
Sometimes, all the inspiration you need is sitting right in front of you, blowing out a birthday candle or two. That’s what Jolie Dionisio, founder of Long Beach-based Wild Child Party & Supply, learned when she launched her business a few years ago -- kind of by accident, she says.
“I knew from throwing my own kids’ parties that sourcing great stuff was so time consuming,” Jolie recalls, “but my thinking early on was more a website or an etsy store.”
In 2015, after the runaway success of a pop-up she did at a local boutique, Jolie quickly found a space of her own. “Within one year, we outgrew that, which led us to the amazing shop we have now,” she says.
Today, Wild Child stocks stylish, so-cute party goods and offers full-service event planning, not to mention the out-of-this-world balloon garlands that rule your Insta feed. The company has several events booked well into summer, and Jolie is on the hunt for a new location as well.
Being a mother and a businesswoman wasn’t easy early on, Jolie shares. “I transitioned overnight from a stay-at-home mom into running an event styling service and retail shop. Not easy with three children,” she says. “I found balance by making sure that when I was home, I was available and present to the family.”
“The other lifesaver is finding people you trust to pick up the ball and run when you can’t,” Jolie adds. “Wild Child is a team effort! I certainly couldn’t do this on my own, or without the super support of my husband.”
As for advice to other mamas out there looking to start their own business, Jolie recommends starting small and working your way up. “If you jump in over your head, it really is hard to ever adjust as you get busier,” Jolie says. “Also, if it is feasible, plan on not making any money for the first couple years -- roll all your profits back into the business. If you go in with that mentality, you will avoid the strain of a large loan and trying to support your family with a growing business.”
Julia Wheeler, Gunn & Swain
You may know Gunn & Swain for their handmade Mexican blankets, a perennial favorite here at Prism. The San Diego-based company also stocks home goods, clothing and accessories from countries around the world, like Turkey, Peru and Mexico.
For owners Julia and Dusty Wheeler, a couple who’ve built a brand upon their globe-trotting experiences, starting a family is their biggest adventure yet. And while they might not be flying off to other hemispheres these days, the family still tries to sneak in as many miles as possible.
“We try to instill a love of travel, curiosity and respect for culture and the planet by showing our kids as much of the world as we can,” Julia explains. “We just inherited a vintage trailer and plan on taking our kids to as many national parks, beaches and forests as possible!”
Work, life, travel: it’s all a balancing act for Julia, who also does freelance styling and creative direction for brands. And she’s still perfecting the equation. “I have to constantly just let deadlines slip and push goals further out to make sure I can focus on my number-one priority, which is my kids,” she says. “It’s a really hard balance, to be honest. I just remind myself daily to give myself grace, and that my kids will only be this small once.”
Julia is quick to celebrate the many mamas she works with, from her social media guru to her photographer to her business mentor. “There are so many different mom bosses I look up to!” she says. “I know mom bosses who are CEOs who juggle insane corporate jobs and motherhood, and then moms who are solo with their kids all day. Being a mom boss to me just means that you are owning your current season of motherhood.”
For budding mom bosses, Julia recommends finding other moms you can relate to. “They will be your lifeline as you run your business and raise your family,” she says. “My husband helps with some aspects of my business, but for the most part, I am doing this solo. I wouldn’t survive without other moms in the same boat to bounce ideas off of, commiserate over customer service woes or get general advice from someone in the same boat. Instagram is a great way to build a community of like-minded mamas and business people!”
Mary Myers, Novella Royale
From the moment we opened Prism, Novella Royale’s iconic ‘60s and ‘70s-inspired bells, maxis and prints have flown off the shelves. Now, on the heels of opening her first retail space in San Clemente, founder Mary Myers -- who named the company after her daughter, Novella -- is launching a girls’ line.
After years of custom-making dresses and bells for her daughter, Mary says, the back-to-school collection, set for release this summer, came about naturally. “Now that Novella’s a bit older, she’s been stealing my Portia tees and Ryan sweatshirts,” she says. “Her and her best friend mix NR prints like no one else. I love it!”
Being a mother and running Novella Royale go hand-in-hand, Mary explains. “I left my full-time design job after Novella’s birth,” she says. “I wanted to be able to create a career where my schedule could be flexible enough to be present when they needed me and to be home every evening cooking dinner.”
Still, Mary notes, she strives to find a better balance between work and home. “I tend to take care of everyone else before myself -- as most mothers do,” she says. “So I really try and remember to not put myself at the bottom of the totem pole. The other day my husband asked me why I don’t ever make the bed, and I told him that I would rather have my face washed and my hair done than a made bed. Learning to let go of small things so I can fit in my needs has been a big asset in trying to find that balance!”
“In our house I’m known as ‘the boss,’ I think because my family knows I take care of them and always do what’s right for them,” Mary adds. “Well, and I don’t take anyone’s crap, ha! But you have to be a boss to raise kids -- it’s the hardest job out there!”
As for the other mamas she admires, Mary shares that she loves watching Jen Rossi of Jen’s Pirate Booty raise her girls. “She’s such a badass and hot mama!” she says. “And I have such respect for Dayna, as she was having her babies while building her business. I did the same, and it is not an easy feat!”
Johnna Green, Jurate Brown Jewelry
If there’s one thing that unites these mom bosses, it’s the passionate pursuit of creative interests. In the case of Johnna Green, this means one passion -- Pilates -- leading to another: jewelry.
After moving to Long Beach eight years ago, Johnna opened her home Pilates studio and settled into the city, making friends and meeting new people along the way. One new friend she met was local jewelry designer Jurate Brown.
“Because of my lifetime obsession with jewelry, I asked to trade my Pilates services for her beautiful designs,” says Johnna, who would go on to host a pop-up for Jurate at her Pilates studio. “I saw the reaction to her pieces and realized I wasn't the only one that loved her work.”
For Johnna, it was an eye-opening experience. “A couple years back, I had the beginnings of a successful kids accessories line, and ALL I wanted was a partner,” she says. “So I asked Jurate if she’d like a partner. Within a few months, we added a fine jewelry collection and created J.B. Mini's, a stylish line of adult-child jewelry.”
Being her own boss has afforded Johnna the flexibility to be there for can’t-miss moments of her children’s lives, but she also notes that the work half of the work-life balance is essential to her as well. “Working feeds my creativity and provides me a feeling of independence,” Johnna says. “That independence and creative energy is something that is so important for me to share with my girls. I want nothing more for them than for them to stand on their own, and spend their days doing what they love. The only way I know how to instill that independence in them is to show them that each day.”
Balance remains the goal, but what it actually looks like differs from day to day, Johnna notes. “My most recent revelation is that something always has to give. So some days I may put makeup on in the morning, but skip a shower, have a successful day at work, but barely get to play with my kids, but then have a homemade dinner on the table. Nothing is ever perfect. My house is almost always spotless, but my car is disgusting.”
So, what defines a mom boss? “It’s that feeling you get when you just accomplished eight things in 10 minutes and may have time for one more,” Johnna says. “To me, being a mom boss is doing what you have passion for separate from being a mom. I admire any mom that is doing what she loves, which for some moms means being the president of the PTA -- those moms are better than me.”