I’ve been an admirer of VONBON apparel for a while and hearing news that such a successful and much loved in a community kids clothing brand is closing down got me confused. So I’ve contacted Jennifer Wilson for an interview – Introducing you an empowering mother of two and a passionate entrepreneur.
Who is Jennifer Wilson?
She is a vibrant, fun, passionate and emotionally driven women, inspired by the simple beauty found in all aspects of her ordinary life.
A loyal and loving wife.
A caring and kind mother.
A compassionate and thoughtful friend.
An innovative and creative entrepreneur.
An honest and vulnerable storyteller.
A leader who thrives in bringing women closer,
learning from one another and growing together.
What makes your world spin?
Connection. Hands down I feel my very best and most vibrant in life, when I am truly connected to my family, my friends, nature (light and water specifically) and above all, myself. I have always taken great pride in being a connector — brining others who have mutual interests together to work/grow collaboratively.
What does VONBON mean?
VONBON was a nickname we came up with for our future child. We were sitting on a patio having breakfast in Vancouver one summer morning and I heard a mother call to her son, “Vaughn!” I instantly fell in love with the name and we thought it would be perfect for a future son or daughter. Then it dawned on me that it would make a really cute kids clothing label. The name stuck and the rest just fell into place.
How did you start VONBON?
Sometimes I look back and wonder that myself — it all seems like it was a dream! What I do know is that it took a lot of dedication, hard work, perseverance, and a team of amazing people who helped me pull it all off. We can’t do it alone and why would we want to? Being part of a harmonious team is one of the most powerful feelings I have ever experienced.
What sacrifices have you made to run your business?
We almost ended our marriage in the first year of business. I never had a maternity leave with either of my children. I missed many gatherings and events in the first couple of years because I was working around the clock. Hustling, they call it.
“If I was succeeding in our sales, productions and social media goals, I felt I was failing as a mother. If I was succeeding as a mother, I felt I wasn’t focused enough on growing the business. It always seemed to be a give and take, never the perfect balance.”
Being an entrepreneur is not as glamorous as it looks. Many people believe that being your own boss comes with so much flexibility, and I guess in some ways it does. What it doesn’t come with is peace of mind — VONBON was always on the brain. Always. No matter how creative I was with setting boundaries, business always seemed to bleed into my personal life. It was a struggle for me to keep a clean line, because I was so passionate about both. So driven to keep accomplishing, to keep growing, to keep proving to myself that I could do this.
What made VONBON so special?
Because it was more about the community we built than it was ever about selling clothes. We were committed to making quality children’s clothing with a strong focus on ethical and responsible manufacturing/production, but while we were doing that we were also building a family that supported us in more ways that I can even explain. In that sense it was more successful than I ever possibly dreamed.
Why have you closed it down?
Running a business in the apparel industry was no longer serving me in the way I needed. I could feel a pull so deep, I couldn’t ignore it. I felt called to focus on myself, my family, take what I had learned from creating/ running a successful company and letting it continue to grow into something that fulfills me in a new way.
How have you changed since your first child was born? Second?
“I honestly believed that when we had our first child, she would just fit perfectly into our current life. Nothing was going to change, she would learn to adapt and come along for the ride. I often think about that and it makes me smile incredibly wide — I was so naive.”
After having Vaughn and knowing that he would most likely be our last baby, my sense of time started to shift. Each moment felt more precious than the last and I could feel myself yearning for a slower pace. I didn’t want to wake up one day and realized I had missed it all.
What advice would you give to mothers who are running their own business?
No matter what, listen to your inner voice. No matter what anyone else tells you, listen hard. If it is telling you to keep going, to keep pushing, to persevere — do it. If it is telling you to stop, slow down, change pace, change course — do it. Staying true to YOU is the ultimate success, no matter which business you are in.
What is your next move in career and life in general?
I have been very intentional with trying not to figure that all out. This season was meant to be for allowing myself to do the deeper work, to uncover some of the things I didn’t even realize I had pushed down that far. To enjoy every simple beauty that is all around me if I just choose to see it.
What I do know is that I want to continue to use my authentic voice to create a safe space for women to connect, to inspire change and to bring light to so many of the things we don’t regularly share about as mothers.
“I can already feel the shift, and I am choosing to trust the process. I am in control of it all, and to me that is the most powerful feeling in the world.”
How does your day look now that you have closed down your business?
We usually start our day in the kitchen, working as a team to make breakfast. The kids love helping me put ingredients in the blender for smoothies or dress their toast with peanut butter and hemp hearts. I am still learning to master the morning routine, as 4 out of the 5 days we seem to be running late for school.
I take great pleasure in being able to walk my daughter to school each day — really trying to be present as her hand is grasped in mine, we take in big breathes of fresh air and I watch those little feet skip along. These are the most beautiful moments in life. This is what I want to remember forever.
The remainder of my days are filled with anything from grocery shopping, playing toy trains with my son, counselling sessions with my therapist to volunteering my time with local non-profit BabyGoRound. It has been a really nice transition for me to be able to continue to use my skills and strengths in marketing and social media to help bring awareness to such a vital service in our community.
Who is your Mother Muse?
I don’t know if I can identify just one person who has inspired my motherhood journey and that I would consider to be my muse — I’ve taken away a variety of lessons and insight from so many amazing mothers in my life. One in particular, is my dear friend, Alyssa Cooke. I recently had the most incredible experience of being there to witness her home labour and deliver her baby boy. Watching her as she harnessed her inner strength, navigating each contraction with such beauty and breathe — it was completely empowering and one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever felt. To witness someone so grounded in their true self, trusting that their body was made to create and bring life into this world— I loose my breathe just thinking about it.