Artist Denai Jones launched her diaper bag company, Petunia Pickle Bottom, in the loft above her parents’ garage. Not long after, Denai’s best friend and marketing guru Korie Conant joined her, and the company is now an international success. Denai and Kori dished on what it’s like to run a business with a best friend, their favorite ways to unwind, and why moms should learn to embrace their parenting mistakes.
Congratulations on the success of Petunia Pickle Bottom! You launched the company before having kids— has becoming a mom changed the way you approach your products?
DeNai: Thank you, we are super honored. Becoming a mom provided the opportunity to put our products to the test, and thankfully they proved their reputation. When I design products today, I try to offer as many intuitive features possible. I love how we have evolved as a brand over eighteen years.
Korie: It certainly has! I often say the road for Petunia was paved because we were bold in our design and brand decisions. We didn’t have the reality of motherhood guiding our decisions. Proof: our first diaper bags were made from silk and we couldn’t produce them fast enough.
Where do you find the inspiration for your products?
DeNai: My family loves to travel! I believe our penchant for travel influences the aesthetic and the functionality of our products.
You two have been best friends since high school. What’s it like to be in business with your BFF?
DeNai: Outsiders say, “Never go into business with a friend.” We believe the opposite. Our like-minded family values, similar design aesthetic, work ethic and dedication to each other have been our strength. We appreciate each other’s talents, and are good at-agreeing to disagree.
Korie: We’ve had many people ask us how we made it work as friends and partners when so many others have failed. I think it is because we both have always had different skill sets and really leaned on and appreciated each other for that reason. We also are good at giving each other a lot of grace—and we work hard to choose our battles with each other. It hasn’t always been easy or perfect, but despite any business-related arguments, we have always maintained a love for one another that is really more like a sisterhood.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
Korie: Filtering and responding to email. It has become a real challenge to deal with over the years and can be a creativity killer.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
DeNai: For the past two years, ceramics has been my go-to for stress relief and relaxation. I love losing myself in the clay, especially if my boys (ages 10 and 12) join me in my studio.
Korie: Working in my yard. Pulling weeds and planting has always been good therapy for me. I’m currently starting a garden and can’t wait to dig in the dirt. I also really enjoy watching my kids play at the beach. The sound of the waves, their laughter and splashing in the water puts me at ease.
What is your best parenting hack?
DeNai: I am a mother of two boys, so I would have to say a hug. Early on I was given the advice to say less, and offer up a long hug instead. I have found it is the best hack to diffusing a meltdown.
Korie: My son would tell you it’s dressing him in clean clothes after his shower/before bedtime so he’s ready for school in the morning (he’s a real bear to wake up)!
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
DeNai: For years, my sons believed that they came out my belly button, and I opted not to share the truth as it was such a sweet thought! My husband and I finally had to give them “the talk” to set things straight.
Korie: That ants got to the Halloween candy. 😉
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
DeNai: When my two boys treat one another with affection and love. I will often find them cuddling in the backseat of our VW van on a trip.
Korie: Recently we were at a local coffee shop, and the barista told me that a woman bought my latte for me because she noticed how polite my boys were. She admired how my older son made sure his little brother had everything he needed before sitting down to enjoy his own hot chocolate. For me, it’s all those little things that make me feel proud.
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
DeNai: Your actions are your legacy. The imprint we leave upon others has a lasting effect.
Korie: I tell my kids to look for the thin slices of joy in every day. No matter how they are feeling, no matter what is going on in the world, there are so many tiny blessings throughout each day that add up and can fill you up—they just need to look for them.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
DeNai: The days are long, but the years are short. My own mom gave me this advice, and I didn’t believe it. Our boys are growing up so fast, I try to savor every moment.
Korie: Embrace your mistakes as much as you embrace your successes as a parent. As my kids have gotten older, I have been open with them about times I felt I messed up at being mom. I want to teach them that mistakes are fully accepted—and forgiven. It is important to me that my kids to know I don’t expect them to be perfect.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
DeNai: Thankfully my husband and I are really good at ‘tag teaming’ the family needs. This allows us to give grace to one another when work demands more from either of us.
Korie: Honestly, this is always a tough question to answer. It never truly feels balanced to me and is instead a matter of juggling priorities and being at peace with the fact that some days, I just can’t do it all. Thankfully, my husband is a great support and helps with everything household-related and my kids go to bed happy and feeling loved. That’s what’s important to me.
What was the last book you read?
DeNai: The Time In Between by Maria Duenas
Korie: Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Favorite Beauty Product:
DeNai: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, with SPF
Korie: Clarisonic Mia 2 face brush + Rose Hip spray
Favorite Form of Exercise:
Korie: Walking and hiking
What is on your DVR?
DeNai: The Great British Baking Show
Korie: Master Chef Jr. (on repeat)
DeNai: Instagram– I love getting inspired by other artists
Korie: Artifact Uprising. Years of photos on my iPhone can finally be dealt with!
Favorite Kids Store:
Denai: Serendipity Toys in Ojai, CA
Korie: Burro on Abbot/Kinney in Venice