As a business owner that prides herself on building a company that stands for more than the bottom line, I love finding other female entrepreneurs doing the same.
Meet Janean Mann, founder of Junes. Apart from being my favorite new reusable bag to bring with me to Trader Joe's and the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, I love the story behind the women sewing the bags by hand.
Junes has partnered with an independent women's sewing cooperative, Centro Santa Catalina, in Ciudad Juarez (Mexico) to sew 50% of their production load. Started by the Dominican Sisters in 1996, Centro Santa Catalina is a safe haven for the spiritual, educational and economic empowerment of economically poor women and for the welfare of their families.
To learn more about this incredible company and its founder, scroll down below! I also encourage you to check out www.junes.co to check out their selection of bags. Use promo code wholisticnut for 10% off your purchase!
WN: Tell us about Junes. What is it and why did you feel like it needed to exist?
JM: Junes is a fashion-forward eco-conscious bag company. We create products that are versatile and high quality. My aim with building Junes is to make a dent in the 100 billion plastic bags that the U.S. alone uses in a single year. I also wanted to bring something to El Paso and to help the women of Ciudad Juárez.
WN: What prompted you to start the business?
JM: I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, it’s part of what drove me to move to New York where I spent five years before coming back home to El Paso, TX. I’ve always had a desire to create and over the years I had a growing desire to build a company that directly impacted people in a positive way.
Over the holidays in El Paso in 2014, I went over to Ciudad Juárez with friends for the first time since the drug war. We visited a textile store that my friends wanted to bring me to because I had a sewing hobby. There was a fabric there I thought was so beautiful and also breathable, which inspired my idea for the bag. During that visit, walking the streets of Juárez, I was struck by all the fliers of missing women. A gruesome repercussion of the drug war was femicide. That’s when I knew in some way I wanted to help the women of Juárez and the rest of the idea started to gel from there: a reusable bag business, based here in my hometown area of El Paso / Ciudad Juárez metropolis, and eventually would lead to employing a women’s cooperative in Juárez.
WN: What about running this business lights you up?
JM: Giving a steady income to the women in Juarez at the sewing cooperative and hearing from people that love the bags.
WN: What has been the most unexpected part of starting/running Junes?
JM: Having to face all of the demons I have inside of myself, really going inward. Realizing how many subconscious barriers I was facing that I didn’t even realize existed. For example, when it came time to focus more on marketing and being “out there,” that was really difficult for me. I’m a shy and somewhat introverted person not having a natural gravitation to social media. I’ve also been surprised just how much I struggle with imposter syndrome as I build and make decisions with growth.
WN: What does gender equality mean to you?
JM: Breaking the unconscious barriers that both men and women carry around. It starts with the women realizing that our society and culture has created and permeated these ideas since our childhood. Then women need to break free of them and take action. Then we need the men to be awakened, learn how they have contributed and to support the women on this journey of breaking societal conventions about what it means to be a woman.
WN: What’s one habit or routine you do that makes you feel whole- physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually?
JM: Being in nature. Going for my weekly hikes in the desert with friends. Meditating daily.