Q&A 4Her – Julianna Shaw, Founder of ZoLi
Like any mother, Julianna Shaw tries to ensure everything she gives her children is safe. But after her first baby, she was amazed to discover how difficult it was to find safe products for her child and to stay informed about the right choices. Over the years, Julianna has become an expert because she needed to; her mission is to share this knowledge with other parents to make their lives easier.
The combination of these core values with more than 15 years of executive management and product marketing experience – creating brands and launching products for companies like Safeway, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Oral-B, Wells Fargo, and Hewlett Packard – gave her the foundation needed to develop and launch her ZoLi products successfully in the juvenile care market.
We had the chance to catch up with Julianna and learn more about her business, the best advice she’s ever given and more. Read her full Q&A 4Her interview below!
Did you ever imagine yourself achieving what you have?
When you go into a new venture, you should never go in with any negative thoughts or feelings so I was always positive and confident about our concept, brand integrity and product quality. I knew I would be successful with ZoLi but, of course, my version of success has been far exceeded by our actual success. We couldn’t have asked for a better path so far, ZoLi has seen a steady growth rate of 150% per year, we have been able to grow as a brand and company without compromising what helps us stand apart – environmentally-friendly, safe products that parents can trust.
What in hindsight would you say you underestimated about your industry or business and why?
I really underestimated customer loyalty to specific brands. As a mom, I knew that you favored certain products and used them more than others but when we started ZoLi, the continual support from our customers and their loyalty nearly blew me away. We wanted to create customer relationships as well as good, quality products and I think that is a big reason why the our brand has been so successful.
Along with the customer loyalty, I underestimated the power of the blogging community. The parent blogs are a huge influence for new and old parents alike. It is a great way to get your product reviewed. Now, you can get the products into the hands of the bloggers but after that the product has to stand by itself, you do risk having negative elements posted about your product. For ZoLi, we have had a great number of positive reviews and any constructive criticism is welcome because we aim to constantly improve our products.
What is the best business related advice you have ever been given?
Never overthink it. You can always find 101 reasons why not to do something so instead of letting that intimidate you, follow your instincts and go for it.
What do you love most about what you do and why?
There are so many aspects of my career that I love. When I decided to start ZoLi, I was excited at offering products that I wanted to see on the market. I love that I can create a product that has a few tweaks based on my experience as a parent and make life a bit easier and safer for families. I really enjoy that I can take the inspiration from my life as a mom and bring the idea to fruition but be a part of every process from conceptualizing the product, picking materials for manufacturing all the way to sales and marketing.
If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently and why?
I think I wouldn’t have hesitated or questioned myself before starting the business. As an entrepreneur, you go through a process of excitement, confidence and then doubt and hesitation. I would have skipped all the negative thoughts in my head and just took the plunge earlier because if I knew then what I know now, I would realize that a passion for something, anything will drive you to the ultimate success: fulfillment and happiness.
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
Well, I am a mompreneur so when I have free-time I try to spend it with my two beautiful daughters, Zoe and Lila. We try to spend as much time outdoors as possible – either bike riding, hiking or just walking around the local farmer’s market. We love our farmers market. A typical Sunday, you would find us at the market picking up our fruits and vegetables for the week. My girls have picked up my passion for books so when we get the chance, we love heading to the library or our local bookstore and just browse – looking for something new or classics to bring home to enjoy.
How do you define success?
Success can be so many things. For me, success is running a company that I whole-heartedly believe in. It is important for me to have a company and products that live up to my standards of being safe for families and the environment. And, of course, success is showing my two daughters that you can achieve anything you want with hard work and drive.