We had the good fortune of connecting with Johanna “Jo” Aranda and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johanna “Jo”, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
I am a big believer that joy and happiness can be found in the smallest of everyday acts. I am a morning person. I wake up with a lot of energy and ready for the day. When everyone is asleep, I read a book, journal, catch up on Instagram and Facebook, clean the house, brew some coffee, and prior to my knee injury would go to the gym. All of that brings me joy. It makes me feel happy. It puts me in a good mood, and I radiate that in my house. My son usually wakes up after me and he is the first to say “Well, you’re in a good mood today Mommy!” and it is contagious because I will catch him singing and dancing around too. Happiness is a feeling that like every other feeling we have we can transmit to others. I do my best not to be a mood killer. I try to bring positive energy wherever I go. No one is a fan of a buzz killer or energy drainer.
My children and my husband are my ultimate source of happiness. They make me laugh. They laugh at me in good fun of course. I love to laugh. Laughter truly cures all at least for a moment in time. It is one of the things that made me fall in love with my husband. He would make me crack up. My daughter is witty and quick with the comebacks which also make me smile and sometimes spit out my drinks. It also makes me happy to do for others. Even if it is via my silly Instagram reels that make me laugh at myself. I figure if it makes me laugh someone else is laughing with me or at me. Either way, it made someone’s moment and I was part of it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It was my dream to own a brick-and-mortar apparel store. I joke that I wanted to be Selena (you know, Selena Quintanilla the slain Tex Mex Singer?). I wanted to do it all. I wanted to be a cosmetologist, design clothes, be a singer, and a business owner. I wanted to do it all. My dad however had other goals for me, so I went to school got my degree, and received a BA in Child Development. I worked as a teacher for some time and eventually left the classroom to work for a nonprofit organization as a Community Organizer. That led me to another nonprofit start-up that still exists to this day called Child 360 shoutout the amazing staff there. They are wonderful people. I worked as a Family Engagement specialist. there and I helped train early educators on best practices for Family Engagement at their schools. I worked there for 13 years until I decided that it was time for me to take a break and join my husband in our family business. My husband runs a boutique PR/Marketing Firm he is also a political strategist for local and statewide campaigns. When our son was born almost 16 years ago he quit his job at a large PR firm to be a more present father. About a year into working our business together, I realized that it was not my favorite thing in the world to do and I needed to go out and do something that would bring me personal fulfillment. Although it isn’t a brick-and-mortar location yet, I decided to go full throttle with my online store. Although I had start-up money there was a huge learning curve for me. I’m still learning. I mean, I only launched this past March. Apparel is so much more than I thought it was going to be. Learning about trends, seasons, colors, how to buy, where to buy, etc has required a lot of homework and sometimes I get frustrated with myself. However, I am enjoying the process and really love creating content and engaging with my customers.
My brand is based on loving yourself and self-love. “Love Me Most”. I created it with my daughter in mind. She’s 12 and starting to go through that phase where she is paying attention to things she wasn’t before about how she looks. She’s beautiful but she has to believe that. She has to know that beauty isn’t just what’s outside. It’s skin deep. I think we do not practice enough self-love. Often, we focus on loving others, and we forget about ourselves. I am so guilty of this myself. We are quick to compliment and praise other people but not ourselves. We pick ourselves apart and talk down to ourselves. Why do we do this? The truth is we cannot be the best version of ourselves for the most important people in our lives if we do not invest time in doing the self-love and self-care work on ourselves. I worked tirelessly on my brand. I did not just want to have a PJ / Comfy wear line that was like anyone else or something that you can simply buy at a store. This was not easy. It took time and effort, and lots of energy to ensure that everyone that purchased an item, felt the essence of the brand and they understood what we are doing. We do not just sell PJ’s, we sell a true genuine brand and it promotes and encourages self-love. From our packaging that includes a die-cut heart sticker to the canvas bag that our merchandise is placed in which reads, “I love myself because I am_ _ _ _” and you fill in the blank. You choose to share what you love most about yourself. I chose yellow as our brand color because it’s the color of confidence and it’s also my all-time favorite color. Our story, our brand, is simple, it is based on loving yourself as you are no matter what! We must embrace our perceived flaws and love them. We are FLAwesome!
I truly believe the world needs more love and love begins with us.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have family from Miami coming next month and I’m working on this itinerary. To start, our family are Disney nerds, we have been annual pass holders for over 13 years, till the pandemic hit us. Disney is a must and there are tons of places in the parks and in Downtown Disney to have good eats. I also love watching the sunset in Laguna Beach at a restaurant called Las Brisas, it is beautiful plus two of the best servers we have ever had work there. Shout out to Dante and Ricardo! Doing the tourist thing is a must even when you live in LA. Visit Hollywood and all that is there, but also the beach, maybe the mountains and wine country. That is a must! I live in Norwalk and was raised in Lynwood and there are great small and local small businesses to visit in the South LA part of the county like Tacos Balam. Times are different now with COVID, with things set to open in June I pray we will return to a more normal way of life and get to eat indoors. I love Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Long Beach and will take my family there when they come. Honduras Kitchen in Long Beach or Huntington Park is perfect if you want some Central American Cuisine my favorite is the Baliadas and the Sopa de Caracol (conch soup). The Edison Bar in downtown LA is a great place to get some drinks and take great photos because the architecture is stunning. The Mermaid is a woman-owned bar and they have patio dining now and incredibly unique libations to try. The diversity and availability are what make our home amazing. There are so many places that I can mention and so many places to see, and I am working on my own itinerary for next month.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
YES! The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz changed my life. I have read and re-read that book countless times, and I share it with others. It is a guide for me and a reminder that when we attempt to live by these 4 agreements in our daily life – life is not as hard as we sometimes make it out to be. That book has been an instrumental tool for me in everything that I do. If you have never read it, please go buy it. You need it.
My dad also deserves credit for indirectly encouraging me to become an entrepreneur. He wanted me to go to college and become an attorney or a doctor or something. I understand why he did. He did not want me to endure the same hardships he had to endure, but as a parent myself now and a child development professional I know that our children learn more from our example than what we preach. I watched my father start business after business and growing up I saw him work hard to provide for our family. I watched my mother stand by his side and help him with every new idea and venture. So, I guess you can say, this is in my blood, and I married into the same belief. My husband has owned businesses since he was in his teen years. Some bigger than others. He even had his own record label and postal annex! but he is one of the reasons why I was not scared to start a business of my own. I knew that the worst that could happen is that I would fail. Failing is just another way of saying learning opportunity. My husband has taught me that the worse that can happen is that I get a chance to try again. A chance to learn from my mistakes.
I have had many mentors and leaders who have guided me and inspired me, but my shout-outs go to my parents, and my husband. I have seen them fail and dust themselves off many times and I am grateful for their example. They make me strong and resilient. They make me brave.