Meet the Cartel: Wild + Bear
Welcome back to our new interview series Meet the Cartel, a spotlight on Big Cartel shop owners. For today’s installment, we have Joanna Gonzales, a mom of three who left her job in TV to launch a children’s clothing brand inspired by her kids and surroundings.
What inspired your business?
Three boys I love more than anything call me mom and in 2014, I launched Wild + Bear with them in mind. Inspired by their adventurous spirit and our collective affinity for exploring in nature, I wanted to create a comfy, playful brand of graphic tees that would celebrate the diversity of boyhood and blend our quintessential sunny California lifestyle with ultra soft and practical apparel made to last.
Tell us about your most popular item in your shop
Our “Long Live Boyhood” pennant flag is definitely a best seller. Moms love adding it to a nursery wall or hanging it as an accent piece in their sons’ bedrooms. Other customers enjoy gifting it to expectant parents with baby boys on the way. It makes a great baby shower gift or as an item on a registry.
Why did you choose Big Cartel?
I love how easy the platform is to use, the fantastic customer support and fast response time, the affordable pricing, and all around unparalleled user friendliness.
Why did you choose your current theme for your shop?
I love the Luna theme because it feels clean, minimalist, and sleek. I appreciate sites that are easy to navigate and highlight products in a way that’s uncluttered and really puts the product at the forefront.
Check out the Luna theme for your own Big Cartel shop.
Which Big Cartel feature could you not live without?
The Big Cartel App. I do everything on the app and love that it’s so functional, seamless, and easy to use. I run 95% of my business from my phone and the app makes it that much easier and convenient. I can update my shop inventory while I’m sitting in the bleachers watching my son’s basketball games - how cool is that?
What does a regular workday look like for you?
It always starts with a cup of steamy chai tea with oat milk (because my day gets off to a much better start with caffeine). Then, after getting the kids off to school, it proceeds with checking emails and responding to customer inquiries, communicating with my screen-printer about placing new orders or following up on existing ones, updating all social media channels and engaging with followers and customers, taking product photos, packing and shipping orders, making one to two drops per day to the post office, brainstorming and sourcing new products - and by then - it’s usually time to pick up the kids from school. Then I’ll tie up loose ends after they go to bed.
Who or what inspires you?
Hands down, nature. Being in the great outdoors is my happy place and it’s where I feel the most awe-inspired and creative.
What’s a moment in your career, or life in general, that you’re proud of?
Our ability to give back to organizations helping children’s causes at various times since we launched, through a percentage of our sales. Being able to donate to organizations like The Conscious Kid, which is centered on inclusive, anti-racist education, and the Texas Diaper Bank, which provides diapers to babies in need, is without a doubt one of the most gratifying aspects of running a business.
What was the most unexpected challenge you have encountered while running your own business?
I think the overall amount of time involved in running a business has been the most surprising, and realizing how the hours are not always delineated. Personal time and work time often get blurred. Sometimes you’ll wake up in the middle of the night and reach for your phone to return a 4am email on a weekend, so that a customer inquiry does not go unaddressed and your response time is quick - and sometimes you’re shipping orders during dinnertime with your plate of food getting cold next to you. But the flexibility is what I love most and why I choose to run my own business.
Like most work-from-home parents, finding that balance can be difficult, but I make a rule to put my phone down when I’m spending quality family time, even if it means my customers have to wait a couple more hours for a response.
How do you like to unwind after a particularly busy day?
By listening to my favorite podcasts, reading, swimming laps, or going for a nature walk with my family.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
I’d probably still be in my previous career as a video producer and journalist at a TV station, telling stories about interesting people, places and things for others to enjoy.
Any advice for someone thinking about opening up their own shop?
Do it! You can start small with just a few products and go from there and Big Cartel makes it so easy to do this. You can launch a shop from your phone in under an hour. Once you get some momentum and get your first sales, it’s such an exhilarating feeling, it will give you the confidence to keep going. There’s a buyer out there for everything- someone is going to love what you have to offer enough to spend their hard-earned money on it. This is never lost on me and gives me such a feeling of gratitude when customers choose to make purchases in my shop.
Twizzlers or Red Vines?
Always Red Vines.
Give us three recommendations… for anything!
Podcasts in my daily rotation on Spotify are: The Daily, Up First, The Journal, Make Me Smart, How I Built This with Guy Raz, and This Is Uncomfortable.
Small Businesses: they’re not so small anymore, but I love anything Parks Projects is selling and want to buy it all.
As far as music, I take cues from my much cooler than me 16-year-old son who is currently listening to Tyler, The Creator and Billie Eilish on repeat.
Where can people find you online?
Wild + Bear, and I’m @wildplusbear on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.