I think we can all agree that the best part about being in school was that back-to-school shopping – snagging just the right colored pens, all the notebooks, and, of course, that perfect backpack to keep all of your school things (aka your whole life) organized and cute. So maybe preparing for motherhood isn’t exactly the same as getting ready for back to school, but nesting and choosing the decor and practical elements that will make up your new life as a mom is just as exciting.
At the top of our must-be-wonderful list? The diaper bag. We ask a lot of this bag: carry diapers, bottles, clothes, burp cloths, our sanity; stand up to grabby baby hands and our own daily use; and, more importantly, be chic as hell. After one of her friends complained that she couldn’t find a diaper bag to meet all those criteria, then-21-year-old Jenny Wecker decided to make one herself. Five years and hundreds of bags later, Jenny is the Founder and CEO of Fawn Design, one of our favorite places for high-quality leather diaper bags and more. We sat down with Jenny to ask her about all things business, motherhood, and how she’s using her design talent to empower the women in her lives, starting with her daughters.
Name: Jenny Wecker, Founder and CEO, Fawn Design
Location: Lehi, Utah
Education: High School
Children: Georgia, 3, and June, 2
What was your first job and how did you land it?
My first job was working at a local dry cleaner. I had a friend working there, who was able to get me a job.
You started Fawn Design after one of your friends lamented that she didn’t have a diaper bag that worked for her needs and looked great – so you made one! How did you get involved in bag design? How did Fawn Design grow from there?
I learned to sew from my amazingly talented mom when I was only 5 years old! I fell in love with it then and was always wanting to learn more. Designing and sewing have always come very naturally to me. I learned to pattern draft when I was 13 from my mom. That’s how I was able to create the Fawn Design bag when I was 21.
Once I gave my friend the first bag I made, other people saw it and asked me to make them one. Then another one, and another! It got to a point where I decided to make a website so people could put an order in for me to make. After about a year of doing that, I had made around 100 bags!
You used Kickstarter to fund your first round of bags and raised almost double what you set out to raise. How did that success encourage your business? What advice do you have for entrepreneurial women looking to raise funds?
For me, the success of our Kickstarter not only gave me the money to start manufacturing but also the validation that people actually wanted the bags! That was huge for me.
My advice would be to get creative and don’t stop trying. Kickstarter was our first successful way of getting money. We went to several banks and tried to get a loan, but we couldn’t. We contemplated putting $20k on five different credit cards (glad my husband and I realized what a bad idea that was). Just because someone tells you no, doesn’t mean everyone will. For me, Kickstarter felt very out-of-the-box at the time. Not a lot of our audience knew what it was. I’m glad we took that creative risk!
You’ve gone from making and shipping these bags from your home to managing 70 manufacturers and 14 internal team members, in just five years – color us impressed! What was the transition to higher management like?
This transition has been the hardest for me. Being the CEO of a company makes me constantly doubt myself and my abilities. When I was sewing, I knew that part, that was easy for me. I’ve had to surround myself every day with mentors and employees who are so much better than I am. That’s how I’ve become better – being willing to learn from others.
I think the key is to never be afraid to ask a question. At first, I’d be in a room with people who were saying a bunch of jargon and I didn’t want to ask what they were talking about, out of fear of looking dumb. I quickly decided that I don’t care about that, and now I always ask. When I speak to others who are just getting started, I try to be careful and assume they know what I’m talking about, because I’ve so been there.
Never be afraid to ask a question.
What’s your typical workday like? Walk us through it.
So many meetings! I finally got a killer assistant who handles my emails and my schedule. She’s a lot better at saying no then I am, which is needed. If it’s not an absolute yes, it’s a no, that’s my rule right now. For a lot of my earlier years, I just said yes to every opportunity or lunch appointment or whatever. I quickly started to get burned out. Now, I feel like I’m still busy but everything I do brings value to my business and myself.
I have two little girls at home, so I try hard to be with them in the morning before I got into the office and to have dinner with them each night. This next year, I am taking way fewer meetings and just focusing on new products. I can’t wait!
What’s your favorite part of the production process? Coming up with new ideas? Seeing customer’s reaction to the finished product?
My favorite part of the production is seeing the final approved sample. This is when we then place an order for production. It’s so rewarding to have an idea in your mind and then be able to hold it, feel it, and then envision it in other’s daily lives.
How have your business skills helped you in motherhood? Vice versa?
I’ve learned in business to be direct with people. Telling others exactly what you need from them and when. I think this will definitely come in handy when my girls are older because my expectations should always be pretty clear. Being a mother has helped me understand priorities. In business, this is so important because you can start to think that everything is important when that’s not the case. I also think being able to multitask is essential in both business and motherhood.
Your husband, Cole, has also been a key member of the Fawn Design team. What’s it like working with your partner?
Cole and I worked together on the business up until October 2017. It was great for the majority of the time. As our business took off, it was very challenging in our personal lives. We had the hardest time disconnecting from work. We also felt like we were putting minimal effort into tons of things, instead of doing an excellent job at a few things!
We ultimately decided working together wasn’t best for our relationship and our family. Cole stepped down from Fawn to be a full-time stay at home parent, which allowed me to be full time at Fawn. I’m so grateful for him each day! I personally think his job is harder than mine. Having a year of our new normal has been so much better for us and our family. Not to mention Fawn has grown even more!
What’s next for you and Fawn Design?
What’s next is lots more products. I can’t wait! Sometimes I feel like my head will explode with all my ideas. At Fawn, our mission is to help every woman embrace every stage of womanhood, including motherhood. I’m excited to have this continue to ring true and be the core of why we are doing what we do.
You’re a mom to two sweet little girls! How did you manage being a working mom? What did you childcare situation look like? Do you have any advice for moms who are torn about returning to work?
It’s been really hard! The key for us was to get a killer nanny and to pay them well! When Cole became the full-time stay at home parent, we were able to have our nanny come less. We still have her come a couple days a week because Cole has his own projects he’s working on and everyone needs some time apart from their kids.
My advice would be to not rush going back. Take as much time as you need. I felt like I needed to be back in full swing right away and that’s crazy. I wish I would’ve slowed down more because kids grow so fast. You’ll never have that time back, but you’ll have your whole life to work.
How do your girls inspire you, in your career or otherwise?
I work so hard for them. I can’t wait until they’re a little older for me to be able to tell them about how I started my business and built it. I strive to be a role model for them. One of my favorites things is when my oldest daughter Georgia spots a Fawn Design bag when we are out and about and says, “ Mom! Look, an Assign Bag!” (how she pronounces Fawn Design). They’re both really sweet and tender-hearted, which comes with lots of crying and drama. It also helps me learn to be kinder and more patient with others.
What character traits do you think make a great entrepreneur like yourself? How are you instilling those qualities in your girls?
This is cliche but never giving up. There are so many times in business that it makes 100 percent sense to throw in the towel. Failure happens almost daily. The key is to always remember that tomorrow is a new day and to have the courage to try again. If my girls have had a hard day, they weren’t very good or whatever, I always say to them, “Let’s have a better day tomorrow.”
How did parenthood change your relationship with Cole? How do you tackle parenting responsibilities and challenges together?
It’s changed way more than I thought it would. You have to really make time for each other away from kids. We’ve learned over the last few years that doing a weekly date night is a must for us! We try to communicate what we need from the other person. If I am really behind with my laundry, I’ll ask him to do it for me. Or, if I just really need to vent or even need a hug, I just tell him! That always works well for us, when we do that.
When it comes to motherhood, what are you confident in? Insecure about?
I am confident that my girls know every single day that I love them and am so proud of them. I might not be around as much as I would like because of work, but I know my girls always know I love them.
I am insecure about my post-baby body. I am currently the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I don’t exercise as much as I used to, and my clothes are always too tight. I have to constantly remind myself to not be so hard on my amazing body that brought my two daughters in my life.
Has becoming a mother changed your perception of motherhood? What advice do you have for new or expecting moms that you wish you’d had?
Well, it is WAY harder then you think! You really start to cut everyone around you some slack! My advice would be to remember that you are not alone. As moms, it’s so easy to feel alone and isolated. For some reason, for me, it was empowering to know that there are so many women out there feeling the same way I do.
I’d also say to celebrate the small wins! Getting ready or going to the grocery store with a newborn is hard to do. So when you do accomplish them, celebrate!
What’s been your favorite moment from motherhood so far?
Obviously, there are so many amazing moments. I loved seeing my girls take their first steps. Honestly, the face they make is priceless! They look so proud, scared, and excited all at the same time! And of course, I am crying cheering them on!
Jenny Wecker is The Everymom…
Best date night? Going golfing! My husband and I love playing golf together.
I wish I knew how to… Drive a manual car. It’s on my bucket list.
Guilty pleasure TV show? I watch those cheesy, low-budget romantic comedies on Netflix while I’m sewing, haha!
Most embarrassing #momfail? When Georgia was six months old, we were in Paris. We visited Notre Dame and right as we were going inside, she had a massive blow out! I for sure did not have enough wipes or a change of clothes. She and I were covered in poop, so much that we couldn’t go inside! We’ve had better days.