This month, we celebrate 12 years of Oh Joy! When I started this blog (and my business) 12 years ago, I never expected to have a business that was so connected to a community of people through the Internet! I never thought I'd make real, live friends through it. I never thought I'd connect with people all over the world and get to share my vision with complete strangers. I never thought that it would give me the opportunity to create something from nothing and create a job I truly love doing every day.
In celebration, I'm looking back at the last 12 years to show how things have changed and evolved and grown (both personally and professionally) in the last decade. This is a long post (but a fun one). So I hope you'll hang out and read along…
2005 – This is when it all began. I left New York to move to Philly in pursuit of love. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) had just started his residency, and it was time to live together after almost 9 years of a long-distance relationship. I had just moved into a new apartment, gotten engaged, and was looking for a new design job. The world was my oyster, yet I was unemployed, broke, and yet trying to start my career and new life with my future husband. My blog in 2005 was about the things I loved—Bob, my cats, lip balm and potatoes, and snacks. I also started interviewing designers who I admired to ask them business advice and began sharing wedding vendors whose work I admired. I was looking for a new job and didn't yet know my blog would become a big part of it.
2006 – This was the year I got married. I shared a lot of wedding inspiration (remember, this is before all the awesome wedding blogs were out, so it was all from print magazines and tear-outs). I also started freelancing and worked for a variety of different companies. I turned our dining room into an office and started showing a peek into my design inspirations and indie products I loved. This was the year that I realized I was getting freelance work through those who were reading my blog and decided to freelance full-time and turned "Oh Joy" into not just a blog but a design studio as well. This was the first (and last year) that I liked the color "chocolate brown". I still liked cats, too.
2007 – By 2007, I was a somewhat legit business. I had design clients from around the country and was really immersed in Philadelphia and getting to know other designers/entrepreneurs there. I began a weekly design column for the local newspaper. I also launched a stationery line that year which gave me a taste of what manufacturing was like. This is the year I created one of my most recognized floral patterns for a card that now still lives on in wallpaper today. I started sharing my love of interiors and even got nominated in a Domino Magazine contest. It's funny to look back at the colors I liked back then and how much more muted my color palette was.
2008 – This is the year that blogs started to become a thing. It was a really good year for new bloggers and some of your favorite blogs probably started around this year. I loved sharing up-and-coming designers and kept myself constantly scouring for what was fresh and new. While I was blogging daily, I was also focused on growing my design business. I did a lot of freelance work for Urban Outfitters and sold my stationery line in stores around the country—including Anthropologie. I was sharing all things Philly and even getting design recognition locally. And, I hired my first intern!
2009 – In 2009, we left the comforts of Philly to move to San Diego for one year for Bob's job. I was sad to go, but it opened my eyes (and tastebuds) to a new city. I started using a social media tool called Twitter and I started a second blog dedicated to my love of food (I soon realized how it didn't make sense to start a new blog and just merged the two together ;). After realizing how much I loved making products (but hated dealing with manufacturing), I began to work with more companies to license my designs. I began exploring more local sites and shooting more original photos and getting more comfortable taking photos for my blog.
2010 – I was loving sunny San Diego life and going out to local events and eating my way through the city. I loved the weather so much, I begged Bob to look for a job on the West Coast so that I could stay in the sunshine forever. He found a job in Los Angeles and (after making sure our moms would be okay with us not moving back to Philly), off to LA we went! My book, Creative, Inc., came out and my co-author, Meg, and I celebrated with a book party (I still love this trailer we made)! I celebrated 5 years as a blogger and began adding in regular columns and contributors to my site. I began to develop real friendships with people I met through my blog (which now a days doesn't seem like a big deal, but back then was very new and kind of still weird ;). I began to acclimate myself to (yet another) new city.
2011 – As we began to start our future in LA, we also worked on starting our family. I announced my pregnancy, shared those bump photos along the way, and welcomed our first (life-changing) baby. I was working with a handful of freelancers who contributed to the site. I was managing 5 different freelancers, and we were posting 3 times a day! Bob (briefly) had a guy's column on Oh Joy which I loved but his real job took over, and I wasn't able to support his demand for a raise ;P. We were on Emily Henderson's show, Secrets from a Stylist on HGTV, and Emily almost gave me a heart attack with her first reveal all in pink and red. My design work was going well, but with the arrival of Ruby, I began to slow down on freelance design work and focus more on Oh Joy related projects. I also started using a new social media site called Pinterest ;)
2012 – We were growing our content on the blog, and I was continuing to manage regular contributors as I transitioned into life with a newborn. However, after beginning to share more personal posts on my blog (especially when it came to those about motherhood), it felt weird for me to mix my voice with those of my contributors. I loved the visuals we were coming up with, but my blog didn't feel personal anymore. So, I took my blog back. I kindly let go of all of my freelance contributors who worked on columns for the site and went back to writing all the posts myself. It was ironic because my second book, Blog, Inc. had just come out, and here I was going in a direction that seemed like the opposite direction of where you'd think to go when you want to grow. But getting more personal felt right. We also celebrated Ruby's 1st birthday! And, I started using a little app called Instagram.
2013 – My business was growing, and it was time to get help—not just remote freelancers that I had worked with previously, but actual employees who would work with me in person by my side. This was the year that my business really grew—I got a studio, hired my first two employees, and signed licensing deals with The Land of Nod and Target that would launch the following year. I was also creating more video content and trying to expand the types of content I was creating for the blog. Pinterest was a growing space for Oh Joy and images from this post got re-pinned 1.5 millions times within 2 days of the post going live. We also went to France, and Ruby learned the joys of baguettes and chocolate croissants.
2014 – This was my biggest (and hardest) year yet. We launched our first Oh Joy collection for Target and baby bedding with The Land of Nod. We stopped having banner ads on the blog and blog income came from sponsored content instead. I focused more on outside projects (Oh Joy book in the works, our line at Target and other licenses) and had the blog be the companion to the Oh Joy world. I announced our 2nd baby and loved sharing style tips for other pregnant mamas. So we made my favorite video series to date—Dressing the Bump. I had a bumpy pregnancy with gestational diabetes and 3 weeks of bed rest while trying to finish our third book. But that all didn't matter once our newest babe arrived. The cherry on top of the cake of the best year yet professionally, was the arrival of our little Coco who made our family complete.
2015 – We launched my 3rd book and a line of Oh Joy Band-Aids. I expanded my Dressing the Bump series from last year into Dressing the Babe which was a fun way for me to get a chance to show my personal style and take some fun photos with my kids. And because it took me a while to "not feel guilty" about the fact that I choose to work and own my own business and be a working mom, I wanted to show what I've come to realize is my strength as a mother—that my kids get to see their mom creating her own job, pursuing her dreams, and hopefully teaching them about passion and going after what you want in the process. Our "Career Day" series was inspired by this after seeing what Ruby would naturally pick up on by getting to see what I for a living.
2016 – In 2016, we expanded our Target collections into Home Decor and Baby items and celebrated with a big Oh Joy for Target Launch Party. In addition to a year's worth of more Target collections, we expanded into our second Band-Aid line. To show fashion content in a new way, we debuted Dressing The Team, to highlight my talented team and show ways to style pieces on a variety of body types. I shared some Behind The Scenes of Making a Target Product and How to (Not) do it All. Plus two of our team members shared a bit about what it was like for them to Change Careers in your 30s special (one and two) which I loved hearing about and I know many of you loved, too. Finally, we had two very new and different projects this year which included painting an Oh Joy Mural for the Southern California Children's Museum AND being asked by Michelle Obama to design the logo for the White House Easter Egg Roll!
2017 – This year, we continued to expand into interiors with our Target collections for Pets, a Cloth & Co Furniture Collaboration, and even more home decor and nursery items. With all of our fun DIYs and styling tips, we started the Oh Joy Color Adventures series as a fun monthly challenge to show how various colors can be used together. We moved into a new and improved studio and shared the before and after's of our Craft Room and Kitchen (with more reveals coming soon!). Personally, I always try to talk about topics I'm going through that some of you may be experiencing, too, like Preparing for Pre-School…and we started a Let's Discuss series to chat about fun and random things I sometimes think about. I got to step outside my normal routine and took a trip to Sweden with Ikea to see their new collections and Visit the Ikea Museum. I also spent some time in Palm Springs designing a room for the Modernism House. We launched our third collection of Oh Joy BandAids, introduced Oh Joy for Cle Tile, and came out with a collection with Milk Snob. I also discovered my love for Instagram Stories and really enjoy connecting with you all over there in a different and more personal way. The year isn't over yet, and we're working on more things for this year….and a TON for next year. By the end of this year, we will be a team of 7 full-time people! Which is so crazy to me because it used to be just me at home in front of my computer not that long ago.
Lots of people ask…what's next? While I can't say TOO much, I can say that next year you'll begin to see more products from us (some at Target but many outside of Target). I'm working to expand the world of Oh Joy and what you know of it today…both online and in real life. Now that we have a bigger office, I'd like to host business workshops here in Los Angeles and get a chance to connect with more of you in person. I also have a couple REALLY BIG projects to announce by early next year.
As the online world continues to grow, it continues to get harder to come up with new ideas and push beyond what everyone else is doing. But I am always trying to grow, do new things, and always reaching so that we are going our own way and staying true to the meaning of Oh Joy…to provide happiness in whatever small ways we can through our content and our products. If there's anything you'd love to see here in the near future, please let me know. I always want to hear from you guys. And, again, simply thank you for just being here and for choosing to spend any part of your time here.
Oh, and have a great weekend!