On Thursday, July 13, Atlanta market goers all gathered around the AmericasMart LIVE stage, centered on the second floor of building 3, inspired and eager to hear from renowned designer, Joy Cho.
Wearing a stunning pink romper accented with navy, orange and red, Cho gave a casual narrative of her road to success. “This isn’t one of those stories where my success just fell into my lap—it wasn’t handed to me at all,” she began. “I put a lot of work in to my company.” The informal storytelling session was exactly what the crowd was seeking. She walked her audience through her 13-year-old mind, when she first had the idea to brand her own business. Through her mother’s knack for calligraphy and a Martha Stewart recipe, she began her first entrepreneurship, selling slices of banana bread at her parents’ restaurant and writing calligraphy for neighbors and friends.
Cho went on to graduate high school and go off to college where she studied communication graphics and design. Her education eventually landed her in New York where she worked at an advertising agency that specialized in fashion. “I was at all of the biggest fashion shows for New York Fashion week… that’s when it all came to me—I wanted to actually design things. I wanted my work to be a little more tangible,” explained Cho. She moved on to work as a designer for Cynthia Rowley where she helped to produce one of the first licensed lines sold in Target stores. That’s when Cho found her entrepreneurial spirit and started the Oh Joy blog, where she chronicled her design inspirations. Before long, Cho’s blog had attracted an audience, “and it wasn’t just my mom and three friends. They were real actual people,” she laughed.
The Oh Joy brand officially launched in 2005, focusing on stationery products, which she explained was best for her because it is one of the more affordable routes. Now, the Oh Joy brand includes various licensed product lines, how-to lifestyle videos, and a daily blog with a focus on design, fashion, food and joyful moments from everyday life. Cho is known for bright colors and patterns, all mixed together to create joyful fashions for the home and women’s apparel. Cho has authored three books and consulted for hundreds of creative businesses around the world, and has partnered with companies like Target, Johnson and Johnson and Anthropology.
The presentation ended with her sharing some of her colleagues that have inspired her, as well as a few pointers for those who desire to follow in her footsteps, one of those being “opportunity doesn’t come to those who just sit and wait.”