Mom to Sage, almost 9 and Finley, 7  // Owner of Lovely June Design Co.

Written by Jessica Gedge // Photographed by Joelle Segal and Sage M.

Sometimes being on the other side of the camera means we tend not to focus so much on ourselves – kind of an analogy for parenting or running a business, actually – pouring ourselves into our kids/venture. This week we’re taking time to get behind the scenes with one of the XO Co-Founders, Joelle. Being her business partner and friend, I (Jess) have so much respect for this woman! She has a gentle ease about her, super strong work ethic and has been a ride-or-die for two ventures with me. Time to shine the spotlight on Joelle, read on to hear her story!

Tell us about your journey that brought you to where you are now.

I’ve taken a long, windy path to where I am now as a graphic designer! I actually studied Biology at The University of Guelph. I’ve always loved art and design and have come from a long line of artists in my family (my great grandmother was a “commercial artist”!). I took what I thought was a more practical route in my education, but as it turned out I just wasn’t happy studying physics and calculus and some of the other courses that came along with my degree. I finished my Bachelor of Science though, and discovered a Plant and Wildlife Illustration Bachelor of Fine Art (Hon.) degree at the University of Newcastle in Australia where I could use my Science degree to apply. I was accepted and before I knew it, I was studying illustration Down Under and admiring the graphic design projects I saw in the building next door. When I returned home, I started working at a software company and formed a greeting card company with a friend just for fun. Soon we found ourselves getting requests for logos, marketing materials and websites. I quickly learned Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Flash and was able to apply my artistic side to the field of design. Due to some major events that were going on in my life, the business partnership didn’t last and I started running my own graphic design firm, as well as an event design company with my sisters. When I had my first daughter I simplified and focussed on graphic design – I couldn’t do it all – and started getting into photography as well. I’ve now come back to my roots and offer art and illustration too.

What advice have you received that really resonated with you?

I can’t recall one good piece of advice I’ve received, but I’m a collector of quotes. I love this one and keep it on my dresser as a reminder – “Be kind. Work hard. Stay humble. Smile often. Stay loyal. Keep honest. Travel when possible. Never stop learning. Be thankful always. And love.” I’m not sure who wrote it, but this is kind of my life mantra!

What is your favourite part of your business and why?

My favourite part of my business is the flexibility. I love that I have been able to have so much time with my girls as they are growing up. It’s been tough and I’ve had to squeeze work into nap times, tv time, night time and any nook and cranny, but it’s so worth it. I feel very fortunate that we’ve been able to make this work, as I will never get this time back.

I have some pretty great clients too, and I love meeting and working with people around the world through my Etsy shop, Olive + Iris.

What does a typical day look like?

On a typical school day, I wake up at 6:10am and get myself ready, finish making everyone’s lunches, get the kids up and ready, empty the dishwasher and tidy up. My goal is to be entirely ready for the day once the kids are off to school. We walk to the bus stop for 8am and once they are on the bus, I continue to walk and listen to my favourite podcasts, for about an hour. At 9am I start working – whether that is client work, an XO photoshoot, etc. At midday I usually need a break and to see a human being, so I run an errand or two – get groceries for dinner, etc. I continue working until I pick up the kids from the bus at 3:30pm. I let them watch a bit of TV to unwind and I finish up my work then. I then make dinner, we do homework, head to the park, bath and bedtime for the kids. I often continue to work once the kids are in bed! I think I’m just used to doing this from the days of having young kids and I feel, even though I’m tired, I’m actually able to focus better at night without the distractions of emails, texts, etc. I don’t work every night though – sometimes it’s really just Netflix and chill and a yummy treat.

We are in the summer months now and that routine has shifted a lot! The girls are older and are pretty good at playing together. They completely destroy their bedroom and listen to crazy loud music, but that time allows me to work a bit during the day. But I’m back to fitting work into nooks and crannies again.

How do you carve out time for yourself?

This I still have trouble with, and I’m not sure why. When the kids were young I found it very hard to take time for myself and leave them for too long. Even though the kids are a bit older now, I still have that lingering mom guilt, although I do go out a lot more. I think my morning meditative walks are my “me time” and one of my favourite parts of the day.

Do you have a go-to dinner recipe?

Yes! We love this Sheet Pan Chicken Fajita recipe. My youngest daughter is basically a vegetarian but she will eat chicken if it has this seasoning on it! It is such a consistent recipe and I love you can just chop everything and throw it in the oven.

Do you have a daily uniform?

Pretty casual! You will usually find me in ripped jeans and a cute shirt. I’m trying to wear more dresses in the summer.

How do you stay organized?

My agenda! It’s nothing fancy, just a Walmart version, but it works for me. Also we keep a family calendar on the fridge. Honestly, I’m scribbling in my agenda all the time. I wouldn’t remember a thing if I didn’t write it down.

What are the challenges you face being both a parent and entrepreneur? Conversely, what benefits do you see to being a business owner while also being a parent?

Definitely the time issue is the biggest challenge. There just isn’t enough time. My kids aren’t in daycare, we don’t have a nanny. I’ve had to learn to just relax and acknowledge that when I’m with the kids, that is family time, and I will get to my work when I can. I will work until the wee hours of the night to meet a deadline if need be. As an anxious person, this was a huge learning curve for me.

A huge benefit of being a business owner and parent though, is learning to work smarter – I’m waaaaayyy more efficient than I was before I had kids. I am much quicker when designing, I make decisions so much faster. If I’m with the kids during the day, I use those in between times while driving or waiting at an appointment to think about the business, or how to respond to an email, etc. I’ve learned to cut out the overthinking aspect of business because just simply, there is no time for it.

What would you tell yourself at 20 years old?

Don’t be so stubborn. I was determined to finish my Science degree, even though I really wasn’t happy in that program. I did well, however I remember walking by the Landscape Architecture building on campus and knowing I should have been there or doing something more creative. I didn’t want to quit and I wanted to prove to myself I could complete my program. If I could go back, I would tell myself to move on to something I loved much sooner.

Also I wouldn’t listen to as much “well-meaning” advice! I really wanted to be an Interior Designer when I was younger, but listened to advice that discouraged me from that – I was told the field was much too competitive. Who knows if I would have enjoyed being an interior designer, however if I could talk to my 20 year old self, I would recommend being stronger in my decisions.

What are some podcasts/instagram accounts that are inspiring for you lately?

I listen to the Goal Digger podcast which is a wealth of information and inspiration! I also enjoy listening to the Side Hustle School podcast – I find all of the business ideas and insights really fascinating.

On Instagram, I love @yogaofcooking – her recipes and photography. @mcgeeandco for interior design inspiration, @apairandaspare for her creativity. And about a thousand other accounts!

My favourite and most used app is AnyList. You can create any list you want (e.g. grocery list) and share it with someone else, and add to your list using Siri. I use it daily.

Any favourite things to do with the family?

My kids love eating at our local spot, Kings Landing. We enjoy going to the beach and often head to De La Salle Beach on Lake Simcoe for a quick day trip in the summer. Winter months we spend a lot of time in the hockey arena but love to ski or go tobogganing and try to make the most of the winter months.

What impact do you hope to make with your work?

I struggle with this a bit, and how graphic design makes an impact. I love making things beautiful so I guess in that sense, it brings more beauty to the world and also helps businesses get more attention with a well-designed brand. In terms of photography, I love helping people or families capture moments in time in a beautiful way and to create a keepsake. With the XO Project, I hope to connect other “parentpreneurs” in a community that is welcoming and supportive to one another. I do hope I’m making an impact in what I do, even if it’s in a small way.

So now you know more about one of the creatives behind the Extraordinary Ordinary Project! If you didn’t already know, we offer business services to help your company level up – check out Joelle’s work over here and be sure to drop a comment or reach out to us and let us know if you have any other questions for Joelle about the work she does!