Friday, October 14, 2011

Starting and Naming Junonia!

How Did You Start Junonia and Where Did the Name Come From?

I’m often asked about how I started Junonia. My background is unconventional for a business person, but I have found over the years, that entrepreneurs who start things from scratch often have unconventional backgrounds. If you are looking to start a business, I say go for it! (I love business start-up stories, so feel free to contact me about your new business venture. Perhaps I can help, or just listen to your story!)

I had spent over a year researching the plus size market, specifically the lack of activewear. Although I majored in music and humanities, and spent time as a city planner and state budgeter, I had always dreamed of starting a business. I carried around a checkbook for my business planning account for years!

I finally had a chance to get serious about business by winning a fellowship from the Bush Foundation (named for an early investor in 3M) to attend a mid-career business school program. While there I took all the entrepreneurial classes I could. When I returned to Minnesota, I created the business plan and sought investors. At that time, they said I was crazy. They said plus size women didn’t want activewear. So I essentially said, “phooey,” and started on a shoestring anyway. That was the start of Junonia. The first catalog (an 8-pager!) of clothing and active accessories was issued in March of 1995. The big lesson from the first catalog, women wanted the activewear!

Since that time Junonia has grown and expanded into both active and casual clothing, as well as other accessory categories. We have become the go-to place for plus size women looking for quality active clothing and the casual clothing that makes them feel great. Over 80% of our customers choose to place their orders online, a big change from the pre-internet days of Junonia!

The Name Junonia

The truth is we have always wanted the name Juno for the company. I remember sitting in the library pre-internet doing the research to find a name. I seem to remember that a big fragrance company had rights to the name Juno at that time. So I steered away from that, but I still loved the story of the goddess, Juno, because it really reflects the mission and values of the company.

The supreme Roman goddess Juno is the protectress of women. She is always depicted in art as a woman of larger than ordinary size--a woman of great beauty, intelligence and power. There is another word to describe such amazing women, Junoesque.

At the time I was looking for a name for the company, I got advice that said “name a company for exactly what it is or what you are selling.” But I wanted to encourage and support women being and becoming active, so a name like “plus size active” didn’t have a lot of inspiration in it. And I liked the idea of a goddess in my corner.

I then found the rare seashell, the Junonia that washes up on the beaches of Florida. Its name comes from the goddess Juno. It had the goddess story plus the lovely image of natural beauty –so that’s how I came to take the name Junonia for the company. I found out years later there is also a Junonia butterfly, but the shell was the original inspiration. I even had a chance to visit Sanibel Island in Florida where, if you find a Junonia shell on the beach, you are an instant celebrity.

NEWS! After years of pursing it, Junonia has now the legal rights to the trademark Juno for women’s clothing. We have begun to use this shorter version of our identity on our clothing. So watch for more use of the goddess story as Junonia moves forward!

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