March 8th is International Women’s Day and we’re celebrating by featuring some of Downtown Burlington’s female business owners & managers! With so many incredible business owners downtown we turned to our community to help us in the selection process by nominating a female business owner that inspires you.
Meet Joelle Cooling, owner & founder of Joelle’s who was nominated for “how she’s grown and changed with her business growth – not easy to do so kudos to her! But also to her continued support to community causes.” We asked Joelle a few questions:
What was the defining moment for you? When did you know that this was your career path? I always loved fashion and I loved advertising and marketing – my Aunt Carol was an advertising copy writer for a department store and took my to a few retail conferences when I was in my teens. In fact, she took me to New York for the first time when I was 16. When I found my self unemployed after working for a few retail stores and created a business plan for Joelle’s – there was no turning back. There were a few road blocks at first but the business took off right away and we have grown every year since day one!
Who helped you get where you are today/influenced you to achieve your current accomplishments? After being so inspired by my Aunt, I had amazing mentors in Elaine Scrivener (Scrivener’s Women’s) and Kathy MacFarlane (The Oyster). Elaine taught me so much about running a family business, being immersed in the local community and budgeting. Kathy taught me about buying with my gut, merchandising and about fashion shows. Susan Busby, a customer of both of the above stores whom I made an impression on when I was starting out, believed enough in me to help me get my business off the ground. She has also taught me so much about philanthropy. If my husband Jeff would not have taken both paternity leaves with the back to back births of our two boys early on in the business, things might not be the same today. The bonus of him coming on board with Jeff’s Guyshop was the icing on the cake. We balance each other out in many ways. I cannot talk about our success any further without recognizing our team – we have an incredible culture. The day I learned to delegate more to them was the day we started to become even more successful. They are the best. And – it is a family affair – my Mom and Dad, my brother, Mother-in-law and both of my teenage boys all help out in the business in some capacity. Even my close friends helped out in the beginning. It takes a village!
As a celebrated successful female, what advice do you have for the next generation of successful women? I think women always have a lot to learn from each other – and if you ask we are willing to share. Balancing a career and a family and wellness and some social time is a challenge. The early days were long (who is kidding who, I still put in a lot of hours) When I look back I wish sometimes I would have taken a few more deep breaths. Be good to yourself. Try to be in the moment. Social media is an amazing tool – in so many ways it has made things easier – but I imagine that for this next generation it also adds a lot more stress and distraction. Remember to stay focused on what is in front of you.
Follow Joelle @joelles_clothing