An Interview with Joy Cho of Oh Joy!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
I am the founder and creative director of Oh Joy!—a lifestyle brand that includes a product line (currently at Target), lifestyle videos, and a daily blog. I live with my husband Bob and our two daughters Ruby and Coco in Los Angeles.
What are the best characteristics from each of your children?
Ruby is curious and kind, smart and sensitive. Coco is silly, tenacious, and a little more wild.
Where were you born and where have you lived?
I was born in Philadelphia and lived there until college. I went to Syracuse for college and found my first job after college in New York City. I moved back to Philly for a bit then lived in San Diego for a year, and now I live in sunny LA with my family. We have lived here for over six years now.
What is your background and do you bring aspects of your cultural background while raising your children?
I am Thai-American, born in the US with both of my parents being from Thailand. There are some parts of my cultural that I inherently have within me that I have passed onto my children like taking off shoes when you go into anyone’s house, never putting shoes on a bed, and letting your elders have the right of way.
What have you learned from your parents that directly impacts how you raise your children?
I grew up watching my parents run several Thai restaurants in Philly and saw the hard work and dedication it took to run your own business. Without realizing it, my parents showed me what hard work looks like and that success is earned. They came to this country with $600 and showed me you can create something from nothing, and that idea is something I am always instilling in my girls.
What other aspects of your life do you find being a mother has changed you?
Being a mother has taught me to look outside of myself and think about how what I do impacts others. It’s also taught me that you cannot do everything. I choose the most important things and then everything else can either be done another time, with the help of someone else, or you just say no. Also, it’s taught me to learn to ask for help because you cannot be a working mother without having help in various parts of your life from childcare when you need to work to having help at work so that you are not trying to do everything yourself.
How do you balance your work at Oh Joy and stay creative while being a mother?
I can’t call it a balance, it’s more like a juggle because balance implies a perfection that I will never have. Instead, we are all juggling our various tasks as best as we can and trying not to let the balls drop. And then, if they do, drop picking them up and being okay with it. I always remind myself and others…you should not do it all...because you can't, and no one can! You should do the things that are most important to you. I place priority on the things and the people that I love most. And let everything else come second. At the end of the day, I think back on what happened and if I can say that my family loves me, that I am happy at my job, and that I did my best to make a difference in the world in the way that I know how, then I can feel like I had a good day.
Has motherhood altered your creative process? If so, how?
My kids definitely inspired my desire to create more products for kids and to design what I wish I had for them as babies (in both nursery and apparel). But also, by wanting to spend more time with them, it has made me more efficient in the way I work so that I can be more focused when I am home and during my time with them.
What have your daughters taught you about yourself?
They have taught me that how I behave as a woman and how my actions can teach other women in ways I never thought possible. Everyone is a role model to someone whether they realize it or not. But especially for my girls, I am their role model. So when I find myself getting hung up on my squishy tummy, a driver who cut me off on the road, or something completely not important, I try to remind myself whether I would want my kids to be concerned about the same things. Instead, I want them to focus on being kind people who work hard to go after what they want and to know that anything is possible.
How do you and your husband approach raising a family?
There are some parts of parenting we knew we had in common before becoming parents, but most of it you often don’t know how you would react until you are in the moment. We have had many times we approached parenting differently and have had to have many discussions about how we want to and need to stand as a united front when it comes to our kids. It's important to us that our daughters be kind to people. We are firm, yet loving, and make sure they knows what kinds of behavior are not acceptable and give them lots of encouragement and praise as they are learning and navigating through life.
Joy Cho of Oh Joy! supports Baby2Baby. Baby2Baby provides low-income children ages 0-12 years with diapers, clothing and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. By distributing to non-profit partner organizations including homeless and domestic violence shelters, Head Start programs, and children’s hospitals, Baby2Baby will serve more than 125,000 children this year.