Walking through Lauren's journey, we touch on cultivating resilience through serving others, her vision to create a world where plus-size women feel empowered, equal, and successful as well as the inspiring way she designs her own life to fulfill her most important priorities.
Part & Parcel Empowers Plus Size Women To Thrive
Two years ago, my friend Lauren Haber Jonas told me about an idea she had to create a woman's leather boot with an option to choose a selection of wider calf sizes than were currently available on the market. She's been running The Pear Shape, a successful blog and community for plus-size fashion, for the last 12 years but could never find boots that fit. I thought it was a great idea, but that's all I thought it was: An idea. Over the coming year, every time we caught up she'd made more progress; Designs one month, prototypes the next, and then finally the official product and a Kickstarter campaign, which was recognized by Intuit Quickbooks as a small business of the year.
After buying over $30,000 of boots on the first day of the campaign, women asked Lauren two questions that would go on to be transformative for her and the plus-size community as a whole: Can you make me a custom blazer? And, I've referred 10 friends who also bought boots, can I get a discount on mine?
The answers to those questions came to fruition last week when Lauren launched Part & Parcel: The first ever social commerce company, where women sell each other clothes and receive a percentage of the sale, exclusively for plus-size women. I've had the great privilege of watching her build Part & Parcel the last two years (and am so proud of her!). So, it was very special to have her on the podcast to talk about her unique path leading up to this chapter, which begins when she was just 10 years old and couldn't find a dress for her sixth-grade graduation. I've long looked up to Lauren, and am grateful to share a few of the lessons I've personally learned from her. You can hear more about her journey and mission in our conversation.
Cultivate resilience by serving others
Between her childhood experiences, The Pear Shape, and Kickstarter campaign, Lauren's journey leading up to Part & Parcel feels like the perfect story. But, of course, like all of us, she's faced inevitable challenges along the way. One was fundraising while pregnant; She was not only pitching investors a new business model geared towards an underserved demographic but doing so while navigating early pregnancy challenges and morning sickness in between meetings.
Lauren's unwavering belief demonstrates how our stamina is always greater when we're working to serve others. "I kept thinking about the stories women shared with me over the last 12 years and believed we could give them what they needed," she reflected. "I always felt like: How can I not keep trying? How can I not keep doing this?"
In addition to her Part & Parcel community, Lauren felt a new depth of drive when she learned she was pregnant: "If there was any chance the baby was a girl, I wanted her to grow up in a world that was vastly different than the one I grew up in — One that is accepting and welcoming to all bodies." This past week, Lauren's daughter Annika was with her when she launched Part & Parcel backed by an impressive $4 million seed round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Be uncompromising about your priorities
Lauren's commitment to spending her time in a way that reflects her priorities is one of the traits I admire most about her. She has helpful tactics like segmenting her day — wholly dedicating her attention to the people she's with and what she's working on — but as a friend, I know her ability to stay true to habits like this stems back to maintaining perspective on what matters most in life.
It's common to hear that relationships and friendships are sacrificed on the path to achieving big goals, especially in entrepreneurship. Yet, even before giving birth to Annika, (just 60 days before she launched Part & Parcel), Lauren has been adamant about carving out time to be with those she cares about and for herself to recharge. She doesn't miss family birthdays, dinner with her husband or supporting friends. During a time when many of us feel pressured to always be on and working, she disconnects daily so she can be present for the people she cares about and take care of herself too. "I refuse to let myself burn out because I can't for my child and this company," she says.
She's also very conscious about how she shows up for the people in her life. These days, it seems like many of us exist in a perpetual state of feeling busy or rushed. Yet, every time you talk to Lauren, she's present, positive, and cares about how you're doing. A valuable lesson for all of us.
This isn't to say she doesn't make sacrifices to do this, but by focusing on what matters to her daily she's constantly increasing her energy and sense of fulfillment, which is why she's been able to achieve all of this by age 28. Through Part & Parcel's Partner Program, she's working to create a world where all women have the flexibility to design their life around what matters most to them.
Make gratitude a family habit
Lauren and her husband Caleb end each day sharing three things they're grateful for. The ritual is a valuable way to stay present and mindful of what matters — For Lauren, that's the health and happiness of loved ones, as they're not always a given. All gratitude practices are meaningful but sharing one with others can have an even more positive impact on your life; Boosting your sense of shared appreciation and connection as well as your level of presence throughout the day as you keep track of what you plan to share. Our family has recently adopted this Jonas ritual and appreciate it as a special way to connect. I know the first one I'll be sharing tonight is the chance to speak with my inspiring friend.