JEN ROBERTS | FOUNDER THE LB BRAND
Jen Roberts is one inspiring mama. Not only is the New Orleans based mother the force behind Little Boogaweezin- a globally successful lifestyle brand for the modern mama & child, but along the way she has single handedly created a global community of like-mided women through LB Style Ambassador roles. Through the LB Brand I have connected with some of my favourite people on the planet and forged real, life-long friendships with women I would probably have never met otherwise. I love everything this brand represents, from the comradery and support of the LB community to the signature slogans and tag-lines, in particular the PROTECTOR. LOVER. MOTHER & MILK DRUNK styles. The fact this brand resonates with so many modern mamas, from all walks of life and corners of the globe, speaks volumes about this lady’s talent.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jen and her 3 year old son Dylan in New York on a stifling summer’s day – behind this entrepreneurial talent lies the most genuine, down to earth soul, and I knew then I had to share her story.
What was your life like pre-baby?
I’ve done a lot of things. From creating and opening Philadelphia’s first luxury pet hotel, to bartending, to being a personal assistant. Since I was a little girl I’ve always had the drive to do my own thing. I’ve never wanted to work for someone. I didn't go to college so the jobs I did have I made sure gave me some sort of independence to do my thing within the job description. Being an entrepreneur at 22 taught me so many lessons. Some hard to swallow and the others so invaluable that a formal education could have never taught me. One of the main lessons I learned was that I wasn’t ready for all the responsibility of being an entrepreneur brought at that time, but on the other hand, that I indeed had what it took to be successful when I was ready.
What lead you to start the LB Brand?
When Dylan, my son, was around 9 months old I noticed myself feeling a little depressed and lost. I loved being his mama but I realized that my sense of “me” was fading away. I think this is such a common thing new mamas go through but we all deal with it differently. I’ve always been a creatively driven person so I went to the store, bought freezer and tracing paper, and started coming up with designs to put on onesies for my son. At that point I just needed something to do for myself, to call my own. After sharing with a few IG mom friends they encouraged me to try and sell them. From there, the entrepreneur took over. My Milk Drunk design was becoming popular on IG so I added a few more designs and created Little Boogaweezin, a baby and kids brand. If you’re wondering where the name came from, it was just a nickname my husband and I called our son. So I started selling in February of 2013. For the remainder of that year I focused on the baby and kids although something was becoming apparent to me. It was me-- as a mom. I started asking myself why there wasn’t a brand out there that represented me? Where was the brand that created products for what I was about? My identity had changed. I wasn’t just a woman anymore. I was a woman and a mother and one who didn’t want to forget about her old self, but somehow blend it with her new self. Where was the brand that represented this new blended identity? Where was the brand that knew I still wanted to have style but it be functional and somehow pay tribute to such a kickass role that I was playing everyday. I looked at who I was as a mother and say who my mother or grandmother was as a mom, and it hit me. This generation of mothers that I’m raising my son in is so different. We break a lot of the traditional stereotypes that usually come along with being "a mom". This is when I decided to put out the first shirt. I Introduced LB’s signature statement, Protector. Lover. Mother. The moms on IG started to bite. I saw it. There was possibly a market for what I was wanting to do. In the beginning of 2014 I reintroduced LB as the very first lifestyle brand for the modern mama and her modern child. My sales and following boomed. This February will mark our 2 year anniversary and I couldn’t be more thrilled for what we have in store in 2015.
You have created the best community of like minded modern-mamas and been responsible for many real friendships- how does that make you feel?
It makes me feel happy. How awesome is it that while contributing to the LB community, mamas are able to make genuine real-life connections beyond social media? I also feel validated because mothers around the world are connecting to this concept and brand which validates my vision and inspires me to keep swinging harder and grow this brand bigger for all of us. I made the decision at the beginning to only use real moms and their kids through all of our marketing, photoshoots, etc. I wanted to give moms and kids the opportunity to represent the brand which represents them, not a childless model who knows nothing about the day in and day out of this journey. When one of the lifestyle brand contributors shows a look from her style contribution, other moms pay attention. They know that the contributor is showing them what’s fashionably possible while changing diapers, juggling no sleep and just trying not to lose your sanity with a toddler.
Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?
Well I curse a lot. I always have. I’ve been told, “you’re just a really passionate person.” I’ll take that. Obviously with becoming a mother I’ve curbed it in front of my child with only the occasional slip up. I also am a loud talker. Always have been. Oh, and I did an open mic once at a comedy club when I was 25. Not only do I love microphones but getting that first laugh on stage was beyond exhilarating. Who knows, maybe I'll muster up the guts to do it again sometime.
What does a normal day look like for you?
Dylan wakes me up through his monitor because I don’t get up before him. I’ve always admired any mom who willingly gets up in the morning before her kids are awake. I just love sleep so much I can’t fathom giving any of it up! I’ve started raw juicing again so I make that for my family and I before having coffee and breakfast. My husband leaves for work pretty early and then I get Dylan to pre school by 8:45. The morning is spent working or running errands before getting him at noon. He has lunch and then naps for 2-3 hours. That time is spent working again. After he gets up we usually go outside, have dinner then do the wind down bath and book reading. Once he’s down, I’m back working until I go to sleep. Non stop over here.
Describe your everyday style?
No matter how fancy I may get from time to time, I’m more about comfort. Always have been. There is nothing worse then feeling uncomfortable in an outfit and pair of shoes.
Who are you inspired by?
Anyone who can beat the odds in a situation.
Favourte thing to do as a family?
I love family walks that aren’t restricted by time. I love to just go explore somewhere with my little family whether it be a park or trendy shopping/eating area.
Name one thing you never leave home without?
Sadly, my iphone. Also, my son if I'm the one solely home with him!
You have recently grieved the loss of your brother- can you share what happened, how you have navigated your grief and the legacy you would like him to leave?
It's so layered, there's not one easy answer for this question. Many things happened with him but the most tragic was when he killed himself in a motel room this past February. He was such an incredible and talented person. I was raised by an alcoholic mother and step father who later in life added prescription pills to their vice list. Addiction was all around us growing up. So was emotional and mental instability. My mom died suddenly in December of 2010 when my brother was staying with her. Honestly, ever since that night he found her, those next 3 years were a real struggle for him even though he had his photography which was his world. He was hurting about a lot of things on the inside and it got to a point that he just couldn't take it anymore. About 4 months after he died, I decided to open up and share not just his story, but my letters to him. I needed a way to grieve but also be transparent during the process. I created a blog called, Dear Jesse, where I write letters to him about all of it. Aside from my journey and his story, I want to bring awareness to addiction, pain and also suicide. All of these topics people shy away from but it's real. It's happening all over the world. I'm not the only person who has had to see my sibling dead in a casket or watch my father lose his only son, or hear my sisters screams of terror on the phone when she found him. Since I've started it I can't tell you how many emails I've received from strangers thanking me for being brutally honest about everything. Or that by reading the letters it has helped them put words to their own pain of losing someone to addiction or suicide. In my heart of hearts, I feel like these letters are meant to be public for more reasons then I know of. I heard a really great quote last night in a documentary with, Dr John, the musician. He said, "You've gotta roll with life or you'll roll under it." It's so true. I don't have a choice to roll with having to lose Jesse, I have to, or else it will roll over me. The only power I have is what I do with this loss and I've chosen to open up about it-- www.dearjessemybrother.wordpress.com
Behind every talented woman is (hopefully) a supportive, loving man. Tell us three things about your hubby, Mr LB Brand?
Three things... alright! He's the most devoted father to our son, he is one of the most hard working dudes I know, and he really is a rock for me. We have such different personalities so that can be beneficial at moments when I'm melting and need reassurance that things are going to be ok!
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Somewhere that doesn't get colder then 50 degrees in the winter!!
Where do you see yourself and The LB Brand in 5 years?