A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood
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What does it take to go from business idea to lady boss? This column features an entrepreneur, who happens to be a mom, each week—walking us through the process of how you too can take your ideas from dream to reality. If you missed our last article featuring Kim, who manages her husband’s musical career, on why having a business plan is so important, you can read that here. This week, we’re discussing why seeking funding may be the key to your growing company’s ultimate success.


VONBON is a line of beautiful baby and children’s clothes made from comfortable, sustainable fabrics. Pieces can be spotted on the kids of some of the biggest celebs (including model, Coco Rocha), and the brand has quickly become associated with cool, modern littles.

Jennifer Wilson, founder of VONBON, shares her secrets of success, including why seeking and securing funding was so important in the rise of her brand. Currently expecting her second child, she’s no stranger to the challenges facing mother entrepreneurs.

But she is proof that motherhood + an incredible career can absolutely coexist.  

The company began in 2013 as a “made-to-order” baby and children’s brand with a focus on the gift-giver. It was created with the thought, “What would friends and family want to get for their loved ones?” Quality was important, style was important, and a sense of luxury permeated through everything.

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As a mother now herself, Jennifer changed some of her designs to better suit the functionality and reality of children. Her pieces evolved to include designs that grew with your child, and stood up to the test of hard play. They are now available as ready to ship items, allowing customers to purchase with quick turnaround.

With a studio in downtown Vancouver, Canada, Jenn’s business has experienced huge growth in the last three years, much of which she attributes to seeking funding at key points.

What would you say sets VONBON apart from the large number of other children’s clothing companies?

No doubt that the industry is saturated with an overwhelming amount of choices in baby and children’s wear. What sets us apart is our dedicated commitment to quality, sourcing sustainable and responsible materials and processes for our garments, great attention to detail of fit and function all while creating stylish pieces.

Your kids just love to live in them.

Our fabrics are designed by myself and my team in-house, so there is nothing else like it. It makes our clothing really special and a little piece of me goes into every single item.

Has VONBON grown with or without the help of loans/grants/other forms of funding?

Although I started out with basically no capital, maybe $2000 that I had saved from my full time job earnings, I was able to start my business. I invested that small amount of money in a laptop, some fabric samples and my website domain/ platform. I contracted a graphic designer to help me put my designs into digital format and create my dream fabric. As time went on, I had to move from “made to order” to “ready to ship” items to meet my customer’s needs and I required some help to do that.

Establishing as a “made to order” brand, I was able to take on less risk, test the market and re-invest the money that was being made. Transitioning to “ready to ship” meant that I was going to need to have stock on hand and there was more risk involved with a much bigger upfront cost. There is no way my company would be where it is today, if I had not gained the help of outside investment from Futurepreneur, (a Canadian entrepreneur financing network). Not only does the organization assist with funding, they have an amazing mentorship program that works hand-in-hand.

The mentorship has been just as valuable, if not more so, than the funding I received.

How did you make the decision to seek funding?

It was a no-brainer. My customers wanted a faster turn around time and I needed to have product on hand, that was ready to ship instead of taking a couple of weeks to be made. The sales would have been lost if I wasn’t able to give my customer what they wanted at that moment. It was either move ahead or stop all together, so I made the decision to go for it and seek funding.

What would you say to other entrepreneurs considering funding?

There are many different ways to seek funding, and you as the owner of the company, need to assess what your needs are and find a solution that best works for you. Some people are able to gain investment from friends or family before making the step to seek funding or grants from financial institutions. The process will be different for each individual. I recommend looking into as many resources as you can.

What types of financial challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?

I think the biggest challenge we faced financially was when I first went out to seek funding. It was nerve-racking and I was second guessing myself on whether I should or not. Looking back, it was just a small stepping stone to where the company is today. Each time we go to manufacture a new collection, our units grow and so does the cost to produce. I don’t think I will ever get over the feeling of, “ Oh my gosh, can we afford to do this?” But then, we do and we grow some more and we keep evolving. It is really exciting, but scary at the same time!

Cash flow can be a problem for many companies, so being creative and evaluating where your cash is tied up, is key in the success of any business.


Do you ever second guess yourself?

If I am going to be totally honest, second-guessing myself probably happens on a weekly basis.

When you pour your blood, sweat and tears into something that is truly your passion, you want to see it succeed. It feels like there is no other option.

Unfortunately, in business, there are more hiccups than smooth rides and it is all about learning to deal with those issues and keep moving forward.

It is VERY easy to become discouraged over the smallest detail or problem, and I have had to push myself to continue to look at the bigger picture and not get hung up on all the day to day road blocks that pop up. Having a strong support system, especially built of other business owners and entrepreneurs has really helped me to rise above those insecurities and focus on what’s ahead. Learning from and sharing with other’s who are going through similar struggles with their businesses and brands has been a huge part of my success.

How has your decision to receive funding impacted VONBON?

Without the funding we received there is no way I would have been able to give my customers what they were asking for. As much as the made-to-order process might work for some brands, I am now competing with the fast fashion market of big box retailers. I needed to be able to give my customer a more quality made item, in less time, and without funding I wouldn’t have been able to achieve that.

How important would you say confidence is in running your own company?

We ALL have our own insecurities and days where we feel completely defeated, but having the confidence in yourself, to get through those down days and push forward is key in the success of any entrepreneur and their company. Like I mentioned before, creating a strong network of other entrepreneurs has been one way to keep my confidence up and be able to feel connected to those with similar struggles. We are all in this together. Learning and growing with one another is essential!

How does being a mother affect the way you run your business?

When I started VONBON it was my baby, I had no children of my own. I would eat, sleep, and breathe VONBON and it started to effect other areas of my life in a negative way, including my marriage. Becoming a mother has made me realign my focus, my priorities and establish some clear guidelines. VONBON continues to be a huge passion of mine, however, since becoming a mother I have learned that it is OK to NOT work all the time. I have a strict schedule of Tuesdays and Thursdays off with my daughter, where I do not work when I am with her. It has allowed me to stop feeling guilty for not working ALL the time and stop feeling guilty for not being a good enough mom. When I am at work, I work hard and when I am at home I “mom” hard and it’s been working really well for me and my family. It is the closest thing to “balance” that I think I will ever achieve.

If there is any one piece of advice you would give to aspiring lady bosses, what would it be?

Be really clear on what your idea of success is personally and professionally. Take the time to write it down as a reminder of what you are working so hard for. Everyone has a different vision of what success looks like for them and their business, and it is very easy to get caught up in the race to do bigger, grow faster and sell more. Be sure to check in with yourself and make sure you are on YOUR path to success.

What does the word “motherly” mean to you?

Motherly means something completely different to me now, than it would have 10 years ago. It means allowing myself the opportunity to nurture all aspects of my life, not just the relationships with my children. Fostering other passions and interests only supports me and my own needs as an individual, allowing me to be a better mother, wife, friend and business owner.

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There are certain moments of parenthood that stay with us forever. The ones that feel a little extra special than the rest. The ones that we always remember, even as time moves forward.

The first day of school will always be one of the most powerful of these experiences.

I love thinking back to my own excitement going through it as a child—the smell of the changing seasons, how excited I was about the new trendy outfit I picked out. And now, I get the joy of watching my children go through the same right of passage.

Keep the memory of this time close with these 10 pictures that you must take on the first day of school so you can remember it forever, mama:

1. Getting on the school bus.

Is there anything more iconic than a school bus when it comes to the first day of school? If your little one is taking the bus, snap a photo of them posed in front of the school bus, walking onto it for the first time, or waving at you through the window as they head off to new adventure.

2. Their feet (and new shoes!)

Getting a new pair of shoes is the quintessential task to prepare for a new school year. These are the shoes that will support them as they learn, play and thrive. Capture the sentimental power of this milestone by taking photos of their shoes. You can get a closeup of your child's feet, or even show them standing next to their previous years of first-day-of-school shoes to show just how much they've grown. If you have multiple children, don't forget to get group shoe photos as well!

3. Posing with their backpack.

Backpacks are a matter of pride for kids so be sure to commemorate the one your child has chosen for the year. Want to get creative? Snap a picture of the backpack leaning against the front door, and then on your child's back as they head out the door.

4. Standing next to a tree or your front door.

Find a place where you can consistently take a photo year after year—a tree, your front door, the school signage—and showcase how much your child is growing by documenting the change each September.

5. Holding a 'first day of school' sign.

Add words to your photo by having your child pose with or next to a sign. Whether it's a creative DIY masterpiece or a simple printout you find online that details their favorites from that year, the beautiful sentiment will be remembered for a lifetime.

6. With their graduating class shirt.

When your child starts school, get a custom-designed shirt with the year your child will graduate high school, or design one yourself with fabric paint (in an 18-year-old size). Have them wear the shirt each year so you can watch them grow into it—and themselves!

Pro tip: Choose a simple color scheme and design that would be easy to recreate if necessary—if your child ends up skipping or repeating a year of school and their graduation date shifts, you can have a new shirt made that can be easily swapped for the original.

7. Post with sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk never goes out of style and has such a nostalgic quality to it. Let your child draw or write something that represents the start of school, like the date or their teacher, and then have them pose next to (or on top of) their work.

8. In their classroom.

From first letters learned to complicated math concepts mastered, your child's classroom is where the real magic of school happens. Take a few pictures of the space where they'll be spending their time. They will love remembering what everything looked like on the first day, from the decorations on the wall to your child's cubby, locker or desk.

9. With their teacher.

If classrooms are where the magic happens, teachers are the magicians. We wish we remembered every single teach we had, but the truth is that over time, memories fade. Be sure to snap a photo of your child posing with their teacher on the first day of school.

10. With you!

We spend so much time thinking about our children's experience on the first day of school, we forget about the people who have done so much to get them there—us! This is a really big day for you too, mama, so get in that photo! You and your child will treasure it forever.

This article is sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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School will be here before we know it, mamas. Which means it's time to take a look in your kid's closet, pull out all those leggings and jeans with holes in the knees and replace them with durable, super cute options... today! Why? Because Prime Day, that's why!

We've been lucky enough to try out Amazon's Spotted Zebra and Look by Crewcuts, and trust us when we say these clothes are quality with a capital "Q." And at these prices, you just might want to stock up on multiple seasons' worth!

From sneakers and sweatshirts to shorts and hoodies, these are the cutest staples at the best prices that you want to take advantage of today!

Amazon Essentials Girls' Long-Sleeve Elastic Waist T-Shirt Dress

Amazon Essentials Dress

Available in seven colorways and sizes 2T to XXL, this dress is the perfect transition piece from summer to fall...just add leggings and she can rock it all winter long, too.

Price: $10.50 (regularly $15.00)

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Spotted Zebra Girls' Toddler & Kids 4-Pack Leggings

Spotted Zebra Legging

Mamas, listen up: We've tried out leggings from many retailers and Spotted Zebra's are among the best. And they come in 18 different patterns/sets.

Price: $10 (regularly $20)

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LOOK by crewcuts Boys' 2-Pack Knit Pull on Shorts

Look Crewcuts Knit Shorts

Cozy shorts for little boys to run around in are imperative for the school year and these ones fit the bill perfectly.

Price: $16.80 (regularly $24)

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Spotted Zebra Kids' 12-Pack Low-Cut Socks

Spotted Zebra Socks

Mamas, if you've got school-age children, then you've also probably got a bin full of random socks. At a buck a pair, this set is well worth it.

Price: $12.60 (regularly $18.00)

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Crocs Kids Bayaband Clog

Crocs Bayaband Clog

No mom has ever regretted buying Crocs for her kids! The easiest shoe to slip on and off chubby feet, Crocs' big rubber toes make them for great scootering and biking.

Price: $18.99 (regularly $34)

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Simple Joys by Carter's Boys' 2-Pack Flat Front Shorts

Carters Shorts

For the days when you want him to look a bit crisper, this two-pack of flat-front chino-esque shorts will do nicely.

Price: $16.75 (regularly $23.99)

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Spotted Zebra Boys' 2-Pack Light-Weight Hooded Long-Sleeve T-Shirts

spotted zebra

You can never have too many lightweight long-sleeve shirts for your kids, and we love the hoods and patterns/colors on these.

Price: $15.40 (regularly $22.50)

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PUMA Kids' St Runner Velcro Sneaker

Puma Velcro Sneaker

Available in 12 colors for girls and boys, these sneakers are perfect for pre-K and young elementary school kids who haven't quite learned how to tie their own laces yet.

Price: $17.49 (regularly $40)

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LOOK by crewcuts Girls' Lightweight Cat-ear Hoodie

Look Crewcuts Cat Hoodie

This hoodie is going to be their new fave when the school year rolls around.

Price: $18.20 (regularly $26)

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Spotted Zebra Girls' Toddler & Kids 2-Pack Knit Sleeveless Tiered Dresses

Spotted Zebra Dress

Even if your girl is going through a no-dresses phase, we're pretty sure she'll love this for two reasons. One, it's SO twirly, whirly, perfect for spinning around (and around and around). And two, she's going to love the bright blocked colors.

Price: $16.80 (regularly $26.80)

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Starter Boys' Pullover Logo Hoodie

starter hoodie

Perfect for throwing on after a baseball game or on the walk to school when the temps start dipping again.

Price: $13.94 (regularly $19.99)

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UOVO Boys Running Shoes

Uovo Boys Running Shoe

UOVO's running shoes are about as durable as they come thanks to rubberized finishes that mean you can wipe stains (grass! mud!) right off. Also available in orange at this price.

Price: $23.64 (regularly $42.99)

SHOP

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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[Editor's note: This article describes one parent's experience with bed-sharing. To learn more about the American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep recommendations please visit the AAP.]

Raise your hand if you've ever found yourself asleep with your child next to you in bed. (🙋🏽♀️)While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing, they discourage bed-sharing, particularly in the first four months of a baby's life, due to safety concerns.

But the reality is that many parents fall asleep with their babies next to them in bed. Whether it's because your baby won't sleep without those cuddles, because you've drifted off while nursing, because you didn't have the heart to put a sick baby in their crib, or because your doctor has given you the okay to snooze alongside your babe, bed-sharing is very much a thing.

And Tia Mowry is getting real about her experience with it.

When asked about her most "non-traditional" parenting move, Tia shared that she's a big-time bed-sharer. "My 1-year-old [daughter, Cairo] is still in my bed," the actress said during an interview with PEOPLE. "Ever since she was born she was always in our bed." But this isn't her first experience with co-sleeping: Tia also shared that she slept with her son until he was 4 years old.

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Tia is hardly alone when it comes to sleeping with her kids. A 2016 study found that only about 44% of survey responders never slept with their babies in bed with them—and that those who slept with their babies were more likely to keep breastfeeding for the recommended six months. Fellow celeb Kourtney Kardashian is a co-sleeper, and many mamas find that while they didn't plan to co-sleep, it is what works for them. That's why there are even special co-sleeping beds big enough for parents and kids.

But as popular as co-sleeping is, it can still be seen as controversial. Even Tia's own mom isn't on board with the Sister Sister star's decision to bed-share with her kids. "[My mom is] like, 'You need to do the cry-out method. Put your baby in the crib. And I'm like, 'No!' I don't want my baby to have any sign of stress whatsoever," Tia explains.

Whichever side of the line you fall on, one thing is clear: Sometimes parents need to do things they never expected to do in the name of more sleep. When it comes to parenting, there's only one absolute: You have to do what keeps your family safe, healthy and happy. And while we'd urge all mamas to familiarize themselves with child safety guidelines, ultimately we all have to make the choices that are best for our families.

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If you're not familiar with Hanna Andersson, let me fill you in. This brand is the mothership when it comes to quality organic kids' clothing. Started more than 30 years ago by a couple in Portland, Oregon, founders Gun and Tom Denhart (she's Swedish, he's American) set out to make highly-durable, supremely-soft basics and pajamas for children, all of which are OEKO-TEX-certified.

As a mom to four kids, hand-me-downs are king in my household. Many a time I have shelled out for cheap stuff, but when it can't last for more than one child's use, it's simply not worth the investment. Which is why I'm a huge devotee of Hanna A. Five years ago, I splurged on the famous Christmas pajamas for the whole family and I'm not lying when I say that after hundreds of times through the washer and dryer, my baby will be the fourth kid rocking the 3T sleeper this holiday season. No rips, no shredded seams. Still 100% intact and soft and thick. But all that quality comes at a price—one pair of pajamas costs between $38 and $45.

Which is why I nearly did a backflip when I saw that Amazon was launching an exclusive collection dubbed Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson, chock full of the pajamas I've come to love so much, albeit at a much lower price!

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Available in a slew of adorable patterns (Stripes! Stars!), really all I wanted to know was if the quality was the same. After all, a sleeper on Hanna Andersson will run you $38, but Moon and Back is offering a nearly-identical one for $17.50 today on Prime Day. That's less than half the price, mamas.

After multiple wears and washes, I'm here to say that Amazon's promise of hand-me-down quality holds true. Made from a similar soft, OEKO-TEX-certified organic cotton, the items I tested (er, my kiddos tested lol), featured the same design details I so appreciate—like a knee-to-neck zipper, smooth flat-lock seams and foldover sleeve cuffs.

The best part is that as of today—Prime Day!—the entire collection is now officially available in sizes newborn to 5T, and the pajamas are all 30 percent off!

Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson One-Piece Organic Cotton Footless Pajamas

Sale price: $17.50 (Regularly $25)

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Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson Two-Piece Organic Cotton Pajama Set

Sale price: $17.50 (Regularly $25)

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Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson One-Piece Organic Cotton Footed Pajama

Sale price: $17.50 (Regularly $25)

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Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson 3-Pack Organic Cotton Long Sleeve Bodysuit

Price: $35

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Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson 3-Pack Organic Cotton Legging

Price: $33

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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It's officially a sale bonanza, mamas! In addition to Amazon's 48-hours of Prime Day markdowns, Target has joined the fray and is also offering major discounts this Monday and Tuesday via its Deal Days, Walmart is offering up Deal Days, and let's not forget the Nordstrom Anniversary pre-sale is happening, too!)

Target's biggest sale of the summer is on our radar for a couple reasons. For one, unlike Prime Day, you don't have to have a membership with the retails to score the discounts. Secondly, once you've ordered a product you can select to pick it up same day at your nearest store. (Have the Target app? From there you can even choose "drive up" and pickup up your loot curbside—without even getting the kids out of their car seats!)

But the deals don't stop at Target, so we hit up a slew of other retailers to find the best deals you can get today..you know the ones that aren't available over at Amazon. Because it's all about scoring the biggest discount possible, right? Right!

Whether you're stocking up on back-to-school supplies, investing in baby gear or just need to replenish your everyday home items, these are the products you want to scoop up this week.

Other

Boxed: Up to 50% off Prince & Spring toilet paper (use code TPPARTY), 20% off kitchen gadgets and tools, up to 20% off snacks, home goods, and school supplies

Best Buy: Flash sale across the site—from appliances to tech

Macys: Black Friday in July sales, including an extra 25% off select departments

TJ Maxx: Summer clearance event with savings that only happen twice a year

Dick's Sporting Goods: $20 off your order of $100+

Carter's: Summer cyber sale, entire site 55% off or more

Williams Sonoma: Friends and family sale, 20% off your order and free fast shipping with code FRIENDS

Gap: Up to 50% off sitewide

Old Navy: 50% off sitewide and free shipping

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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