We love supporting companies that give back, but more so, we love hearing their stories and about the cause behind them. This is why, we’re thrilled to interview Jessica Honegger of Noonday Collection. The socially responsible business creates opportunity for artisans all over the world by selling beautiful jewelry and fashion made by them. Bonus: she’s a working mom imparting her passion for the world to her children. Jessica is sharing all about her baby, Noonday Collection, and her living and breathing babies ;). We hope her contagious spirit catches you at a place where you can be inspired and encouraged in your own mission.
We love Noonday Collection and your story! Tell us how it all began!
It all started when a friend introduced me to Jalia and Daniel. They are talented jewelry designers in Uganda with a passion for creating opportunity for others in their community. I agreed to purchase their paper-bead creations and sold them at the very first Noonday Trunk Show in my home to raise money for my family’s adoption from Rwanda. The response to Jalia and Daniel’s handmade accessories was overwhelming. What started as a fundraiser quickly grew into a business bent on changing the world. We now partner with 28 artisan businesses in 12 countries, creating jobs for over 4,000 Artisans.
The pieces are so beautiful and unique. Where do you find inspiration?
I find so much inspiration on my travels to visit our artisan partners across the globe. Each artisan business we partner with brings their unique skills, craft techniques, and local materials to their pieces. Our design team in Austin collaborates with artisan designers to create pieces that feel modern and relevant, while also carrying a unique story of the place they were crafted. For example, many of our pieces from Vietnam use water buffalo horn, a material that has been used for hundreds of years in that region. By incorporating new design ideas and materials with that traditional material, we are able to create something new and fresh with an authentic feel.
You currently partner with artisans all over the world! How did you establish these relationships and what does it look like to have such a widespread community of partners?
Working with artisan entrepreneurs is a truly unique experience. It has been so illuminating and at times challenging! We identify some of our partners at trade shows and through mutual contacts, but we also travel the globe on scouting trips to find new partnerships. We spend time in the markets and in the heart of local craft districts to identify groups that would be a good fit. What we are looking for is artisan entrepreneurs who share our passion for creating jobs for people in their communities, are committed to following fair trade standards, and have the capacity to produce on a larger scale than they would in the market.
One thing I have learned is that there are so many talented designers and producers around the world who just need a little bit of opportunity to flourish. So many of the artisan entrepreneurs we partner with already have the skills, the drive, and the vision to grow a business that could lift their community out of poverty. But they don’t have a marketplace for their pieces. That’s where Noonday comes in. Getting to partner with these artists from around the world never ceases to inspire and challenge me.
Tell us a little bit about your family! How do you involve your kids in Noonday Collection?
My kids have more stamps in their passports than most adults get in a lifetime! We try to get them to visit one of our partner countries once a year. We actually have our partner coming in from Uganda this weekend with her 2 kids and they will be staying with us! Next on my list— getting my kids after school jobs where they can sweep and clean and start learning the grit that comes with business ownership!
You live and work in Austin, Texas (one of our favorite cities!). Where do you love to spend your time in the city?
I LOVE my city. My local bar, Contigo, is definitely a Cheers experience- I don’t go without running into friends. For our staycations, we love to pull away and stay at suite 4 at the Saint Cecilia. Our regular sushi spot with the kids is Uchiko— during their social hour, of course! My favorite lunch spot is Cenote because the salads are perfection and the combo of a salad and a Topo Chico in a garden setting is the best way to get inspired for the rest of my work day. I love grabbing mussels at Vino Vino because I have been going there since college. And then of course it’s my goal to always try the new spots that seem to open weekly. Eberly is definitely a new favorite for drinks!
How do you balance running a constantly growing business and time with your family?
I try to leave my phone in my car when I pull in the driveway from the office. I can always get it out after the kids go down. We eat dinner together, have dance parties, and recently, we started reading a book together as a family. It takes a lot of intention for me to be present for my family and leave work at work. The more I practice, the better I get. The nightly cuddle times are definitely an event in our home, and I truly do repeat things to myself like, “This matters more than answering that email right now.” And my kids are totally allowed to call me out and hide my phone if it makes its way out of the car.
What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day?
I love walking in the door from the office and getting clobbered by my three kids. They usually then take off to play while my husband and I enjoy a glass of wine as we throw dinner together. We have kept extracurriculars at bay for the time being, so we focus on having family dinners together most nights. Sometimes the dinners are full of interesting conversations, sometimes the kids are fighting, and sometimes my introverted husband is out of words. I try to focus on the “togetherness” of it, and not the perfection of it.
Where do you see Noonday Collection in 5 years? Any fun projects we should know about?
In five years I hope we will be continuing to grow and expand Noonday to impact more and more communities across the globe. Every time I travel to a new country or region, I’m reminded that there are driven, talented artisan entrepreneurs all over the world who, if given the chance, could transform their communities for the better. We want to be that chance for them.
At Noonday we are all about empowering women—both across the globe and right in our own backyards. In five years, I would love to see our Ambassador community continuing to grow and thrive. By styling their friends in our handmade collection, our 1400+ Noonday Ambassadors are creating meaningful opportunities for thousands of Artisans across the globe. And that’s not all—they’re also creating meaningful opportunities for themselves and other women in their communities. They’re finding strength they never knew they had as business owners, advocates, and stylish girlbosses. And seeing those transformations fills me with so much pride!
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
The best business advice I’ve received about being a female business owner specifically is: Abandon the belief that another woman’s success diminishes yours. So often, we feel the need to put other women down to guarantee our own success, but it doesn’t work that way. Every woman that succeeds is paving a way for other women to succeed. Not only do we each need to run the race we are called to run, but we also need to cheer other women on as they run theirs.