The holidays are here! And what better way to spend them than shopping?
Bed-Stuy Patch knows you're busy, so over the next few weeks, we will walk the neighborhood, visit some of our local small businesses and do the window shopping for you!
Today, we're featuring JooJo's (pronounced Jo-Jo's), an online boutique children's shoe store owned by local residents/husband-and-wife team Charles and Ama Yawson.
The company is named after the Yawsons' three-year-old son, JooJo, and it offers some of the cutest, most cutting-edge and well-crafted children's footgear this side of the Hudson River.
The Yawsons launched JooJo's in May 2012, but they began working on the product line soon after the birth of their son. Boys and girls shoes are available in sizes ranging from infant to size-3 for young children.
"For us, having a child was incredibly humbling. It was also a chance to pause and focus on what's really important in life and work," said Charles. "We believe there's a creative genius in every one of us, especially in children. But unfortunately, sometimes this creativity can be dulled by what we think of as the race to be average.
"We wanted to bring back some love and remarkable craftsmanship to the making of children's shoes and offer a no-hassle way to share them."
The website might be the only thing equally as cute as the shoes. Online shoppers will feel like they've entered a virtual playground where they take turns playing with a team of creative visionaries, idealists and dreamers.
Photos of the JooJo team-- a menagerie of marketers and designers from all over the world-- are snapshots of them as babies and young children, co-opting again the idea that the most creative minds belong to children.
"We work with a fantastic team of creative people in Barcelona to produce what we believe is a delightful website," said Ama. "We work with a family of craftspeople in Italy and Romania who have been making shoes since the 1950s. We also work with a UK-based shoe designer who has been designing shoes for over 25-years.
"We manage all this from Brooklyn and work with a graphic designer in Queens."
The Yawsons said their goal for now is to just grow the business by touching as many customers as possible with a well crafted product and a message of fun and playfulness.
They're also in the process of launching a shoe recycling campaign to encourage customers to send in their outgrown shoes in exchange for credit on joojos.com. The company will then donate the outgrown shoes to under-privileged kids in Ghana, West Africa.
"It is clear that this community is experiencing a renaissance of sorts," said Ama. "The entrepreneurial spirit is growing as more and more residents decide to be the change that they want to see by starting the businesses that they desire to patronize in the community.
"It is an exciting time for this community, and Charles and I are so happy to be apart of the positive change that is taking place here."
During this holiday season, be a ShOptimist: Support local Bed-Stuy businesses, and buy your children's footwear from JooJo's!