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“As I grew up, I said I’d never have my own business because it seemed like so much work.”
So, how did Joy Cho end up at the helm of her very own lifestyle brand? It was written in her genes.
My parents immigrated to America from Thailand in 1975, four years before I was born. They had come for graduate school and planned to return to Thailand afterwards. But after they got pregnant with me, they decided to stay to try and have a better life for me and what would become our family of four. My parents both worked normal day jobs, but my dad had an itch to start his own business.
When I was five, my parents started their first business—a Thai restaurant in Philadelphia. While my mom worked another full-time job, my dad opened the restaurant with four other partners because he couldn’t afford to open one on his own. Slowly over the years, he eventually bought out the other partners until he was the sole owner and went on to open three more Thai restaurants during my childhood.
“My kids get to see a passionate parent who loves what I do, and there is something pretty priceless about that.”
I remember watching my parents work so hard (my mom worked in the day at her day job and then would come help my dad in the evenings). My parents worked a lot, so we didn’t have typical “American” family dinners with us all sitting and eating together at the same time every night. I was lucky to get all the Thai food I wanted from my parents’ restaurants, so our dinners were often the meals my parents brought us home from there. I also spent a lot of time there and was a total "restaurant kid." I learned how to fold cloth napkins like a pro and worked there throughout my teen years as a hostess. Having busy, working parents made me very independent. I said I’d never have my own business because it seemed like so much work.
Fast forward 20-some years, and I decided to start my own business and never looked back. Without realizing it, I learned so much from my parents...how to start something from scratch, how to stick with it, how to believe in yourself when no one else does, and how to create something of your very own. My parents’ journey towards entrepreneurship wasn’t easy and they faced ebbs and flows the entire way. I was able to learn from their experiences on how they faced both the great days and not-so-great days.
Being a parent herself now, Joy is constantly reminding herself that she’s continuing the cycle by showing her kids her passion for her career.
Since I have my own business, there is definitely some flexibility that I have in my schedule. But I also work way more than a typical 40-hour work week because my work day really never ends when you’re the boss. I love what I do, and it fuels a part of me that also makes me a better parent to my kids. I try to remind myself not to feel guilty when I’m traveling for work or when I can’t be with my kids all the time…I remember...they are learning amazing things from me. My kids get to see a passionate parent who loves what I do, and there is something pretty priceless about that. My kids love coming to the Oh Joy! Office, they actually say it’s their favorite place to visit (short of Disneyland).
When we asked her to give advice to women who are struggling with the work-life balance, Joy said, “Every day is a juggle rather than a perfect balance. But if, at the end of the day, I can say that my family is happy and healthy and that I feel fulfilled in my work, I count it as a success.”
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