Although she might not use the word “famous” to describe herself, Joy Cho is occasionally flagged down by fangirls while she’s out and about in her Los Angeles neighborhood. The color-loving, polkadot-wearing, creative-thinking Internet icon is most recognized for her popular lifestyle blog and widespread social media presence (think 100,000-plus Instagram followers and 13 million-plus Pinterest followers).
Cho insists she loves the real-life encounters with her readers. “It can seem so anonymous interacting online, so it’s nice to meet real people who genuinely enjoy what we work so hard to create,” she says.
And create she does. Over the last 10 years, the founder and creative director of Oh Joy! has transformed what started as a graphic design studio into a full-blown lifestyle brand that has licensed product designs with big name companies like Target—which Cho describes as “a dream come true”—and The Land of Nod. She’s even authored three books. (The most recent, Oh Joy! 60 Ways to Create and Give Joy, was published in April.)
In addition to growing her business, Cho has been growing her family as well. After bringing daughter Ruby into the mix in late 2011, the multitasking mama added another girl, Coco, to her brood last fall.
Going from one child to two “was a doozy,” Cho says. “I think it was harder than from zero to one!” The sleep deprivation coupled with Ruby’s hesitance about sharing the attention with her sister proved especially challenging. “Coco was born right after Ruby turned 3, so we were already dealing with terrible-three tantrums, which made it all pretty hard,” acknowledges Cho. “My husband, Bob, and I also realized that no one gets a break when you have two kids—it’s always man-on-man.”
Although she says it took close to three months for her family to find its new groove, Cho was back to work, at least part-time, within two weeks after baby Coco’s birth. “I would love to have been able to take a real maternity leave,” says Cho, “but it’s really hard when you have your own business.”
Thankfully, she isn’t running it completely on her own these days. “I have a great team of three other women who handle various aspects of our daily work, from design to photography to styling to crafting. With their help, I’m able to focus on being the creative director and overseeing the business.”
Although she sometimes feels badly about working too much (and not cooking enough!), Cho says, “I have come to accept the things I feel guilty for and cut myself some slack.” Plus, her husband is quick to remind her how well she’s doing at managing it all.
“I feel like I am teaching my kids about pursuing your dreams and about how you can create any job you want,” explains Cho, whose older daughter has accompanied her to photo shoots and studios of creative friends and colleagues. “Most of my close friends are female business owners, and that’s a pretty awesome thing to be surrounded by as a kid.”
Name: Joy Cho
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Founder and creative director of Oh Joy!
Children: Ruby (3) and Coco (7 months)
Favorite guilty pleasure: Massages
Strangest pregnancy craving: Spaghetti with vinegar
On her bucket list: Go on a food tour of Thailand (where her parents are from)