One of the best things to have come from launching She can. She did. so far, has been meeting some of the incredible women who I now class as friends along the way and June Glackin, aka. the one and only Junie Poonie, is without a doubt up there with the very best.
Having met in the Southwood Social Hub earlier this year (aka. a business networking group for women that we’re both members of) and worked together on the gorgeous signage dotted around at each of The Midweek Mingles thereafter, the two of us caught up over much needed coffees at House in Leamington Spa – who by the way opened early especially for June – for what turned into one of the most heartfelt She can. She did. interviews yet…
JG. So I describe myself as a creator of ‘utter loveliness!’ I create beautiful personalised stationery and I do styling for weddings and events. It’s pretty, witty… and sometimes a little naughty!
It started way back when with that classic cliché of not knowing what I wanted to do when I got married and I’ve been married twelve years at Christmas, so I’d say I’ve been doing this for a good ten or eleven years! Most of that was just playing around though; it’s only been since April that Junie Poonie’s been proper proper!
SC.SD. Gosh, that’s such a long time to be juggling a business on the side!
JG. I know! I mean, it did start off as a hobby, it was never a business. I just enjoyed making a few spare pennies here and there but in my life at the time, I had my little boy and my Mum got poorly so it worked because I didn’t have that pressure of feeling like I had to stop and start ‘the business’.
I would say that it’s only been in the past five years when I went back to work after my Mum died, that I went part-time three days a week in a “normal job” as they say and two days a week doing Junie Poonie. It was only then that it suddenly started becoming more and more about Junie Poonie and on the back burner at work, I was sat there starting to think, ‘I’m selling tents and caravans right now, why am I not selling my own work?!’ So yes, in April I walked away!
SC.SD. I still remember the video you uploaded to The Hub when you handed your notice in..!
Minutes after June handed her notice in on 24th January 2018, she uploaded the most heart-warming video to the networking group we’re both members of, excitedly sharing the news that in three months’ time, she would be officially free to work on Junie Poonie full time.
JG. Haha! I think people sometimes need to hear what that feeling feels like because it’s that nervous excitement of, ‘I’ve just handed my notice in, oh my god I’m actually doing it!’ It’s funny though because I keep thinking that in April next year my business will be a year old even though it’s not at all, it’s so much older! So many people get caught up in asking how much it costs to set up a business but for me it never came down to money to build Junie Poonie, the biggest challenge came down to the time I had. I had to invest more time in it.
SC.SD. Let’s go right back to the beginning and pick up on that more because you’re right about the fact that people always think that launching a business will cost thousands of pounds… Obviously your business has been built up over time but in the early days, what did those upfront costs look like in reality?
JG. To be honest, initially I just needed a laptop which I already had and had to source nice card stock and get a decent printer! Most of my printing is done at home unless I’m printing on big foamex boards etc… in which case I work with three or four local printers. Without sounding stupid though, when you talk about proper business owners, I don’t use any of the fancy terminology that you’re supposed to use…
SC.SD. Nor do I, don’t worry!
JG. Exactly! I’m self-taught, I out and out say, “I’m not a graphic designer” and I didn’t go to uni. It’s literally been a case of I’ve loved it, I’ve stuck with it and people seem to love it too so when it comes to things like sending work to the printers, I’ve built good relationships with my suppliers so that I can call up and say, “Hiiiii, it’s Junie Poonie, I want this and this with a bit of this” and instead of saying, “can you put that into an email?” they know that it wouldn’t make sense if it was put into an email; they just get it! I need to work with people that understand I’m a bit crazy ass and they love it. I get called Loonie Junie sometimes for that reason but I’ll take it!
SC.SD. We all know when it’s a Junie Poonie original because your style is so distinct so what influenced your designs in the early days and how has that evolved throughout the years?
JG. Do you know what, I don’t even know! It has changed a LOT throughout the years though and oh god, when Timehop pops up with the old designs, what can I say?! I’ll say it quietly!
JG. I used to do pink polka dots and florals, Cath Kidston style! What the hell was I thinking!? I think I just went along with what people liked at the time whereas now, I think my style has evolved with who I am as a person and being comfortable in myself to be able to say, “I don’t like that” or “no” to certain customers and brides. If brides come to me now and ask for glitter or butterflies, I’m happy to recommend someone else. For the most part though, customers come to me because they’ve seen my work or I’ve been recommended by someone that I’ve already worked with.
I don’t know what’s inspired it all though… Maybe just real life. So many of my designs are so simple.
SC.SD. You say what everyone else is thinking!
JG. It gets me in trouble sometimes but I say it anyway… Or I print it which is even worse!
SC.SD. You’ve mentioned that the majority of your customers come via recommendation now but what about the early days? How did you get the word out there originally and how have your marketing strategies evolved since you’ve gone full time in April?
JG. I think it’s living and learning from your mistakes if anything. I’ve never paid to do any form of advertising, so it’s always been word of mouth and recommendations, even at the beginning. I think so many of my customers come full circle in the sense that if they get engaged and get one of my engagement cards, my details are on the back which means that they’ve then contacted me for their wedding invitations. I’ve got brides and grooms that got an engagement card from me, I did their wedding, I styled their wedding, they then have a baby so I do their christening… that’s just how it is!
I get people knocking on my door asking me to design something for them all the time. I think my customers just buy into the fact that they can meet me, they know who’s designing them, they can come over – whether the house is a tip or not! I think they just see it as supporting a friend. One of my customers is a guy who clearly is the present buyer of the house and anytime one of his friends has a baby, I get a WhatsApp ping through of a new born baby, the date, the weight and a message saying, “do your thing!”
SC.SD. I hope there’s a “please” in there?!
JG. He does say please yes!
JG. I never see him though! I’m so old school and just trust that if they’re local to me, they can come and collect it. I leave it in the porch, the money comes through my letter box and we just exchange like that!
SC.SD. Surely your neighbours are starting to get suspicious?!
JG. It does look like a whore house at times… especially around Mother’s Day! I have all of these men coming over, leaving with a smile on their face and there’s me at the door like, “byeeeee! See you next time!” But it works!
SC.SD. One of the main questions I get asked about nowadays goes along the lines of, “How do you know when it’s the right time to leave your normal job?” so after ten/eleven years of juggling a “normal job” with Junie Poonie, talk to me about what that job involved and what led you to realise you were officially ready to leave…
JG. I worked in marketing and absolutely loved it! Had I hated my job, I think it would have been easier to leave but I didn’t hate it. I bloody loved my job, the team were brilliant but there were frustrations where I could only do so much with the product because it was part of a bigger organisation.
Marketing definitely helped me with this business though and I definitely could have happily glided through life and settled doing three days there, two days with Junie Poonie but it got to the point where I was getting orders coming in with Junie Poonie and I’d be sat at work thinking, ‘why am I sat here when I could be at home making money’ and then I’d go home and work on those orders in the evenings and think, ‘I could be doing this on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’. Anyway, eventually this time last year I got an email through that really pissed me off and I just thought ‘that’s it, I’m done!’ A few things like that that just kept building up and building up and in the end I just thought…
SC.SD. Faaack it!?
JG. Literally! I just left!
SC.SD. You actually stormed out?!
JG. Well no (!) but I walked out the office and just burst into tears out of pure frustration and when my boss rang me that night, I just said, “I’m done.” When I eventually handed my notice in, he said, “to be honest, we’ve been expecting this for a long time. We’ve been watching you grow and knew it would be a matter of time” and to be fair to him, he was bloody amazing. He said, “from a non-employer , friend point of view, in life you only regret the things you don’t do, and it would be your biggest regret if you don’t do this.” It’s so true though. I didn’t realise until I’d actually handed my notice in that this is what I always wanted to do if that makes sense?
SC.SD. How did you manage the financial reality involved in walking away from a steady income to go full time with Junie Poonie?
JG. That was a massive question for me. One of the lightbulbs for me came during a business supper club at Southwood Social Hub. Questions were asked around the table that were quite thought provoking and one of them was, “why don’t you do it full time?” and I said, “I’m happy as I am!” Anyway, the conversation went on and I got a nudge from Hayley saying, “I don’t believe you” and that stuck with me.
Jemma was there (Jemma Cox, Founder of Martin & Cox Living Gifts aka. one of June’s side kicks and a fellow member of Southwood Social Hub) and when we left, we both went our separate ways, but she rang me in the car and we spoke for about an hour on our ways home about it. She said, “you need to do this, this and this” so I went home – this was all while the email saga at work was going on – I ordered two books that Hayley had mentioned when she said she didn’t believe me, read those books / read a few chapters of each book (!) and eventually I turned to my husband and said, “I think I’m ready to do this!”
SC.SD. And he said?
JG. “I’ve been waiting for that!” and I just remember thinking ‘oh my god!’ I think there’s only so much people can push you but you have to get to that decision on your own. Anyway my husband was like, ‘I’ve been waiting for you to do this. All I want you to do is make sure that financially we can do this too. I know you’ll do it because you’ve been smashing it but let’s be sure.’ So I spent days upon days over Christmas last year looking at receipts working out costs and it was a case of, ‘shit, I can actually do this!’ Especially knowing that I’d made enough just on two days a week and evenings…
SC.SD. ‘So imagine if I was doing this full time?’
JG. Exactly! Knowing my husband was backing me and my little man was high fiving me and we could afford it meant that it was decision made!
SC.SD. How much of a difference has going full time made to Junie Poonie and have you done anything differently with the business since you’ve gone full time with it?
JG. I think it’s been a mindset thing. Normally I’d fanny around in the studio at my own pace but I feel like I have to be a proper business woman now! For the first few weeks I was like, ‘right I’m going to walk my little boy to school each morning and get my fresh air and then do this and then do that’ but you just have so much to do, the days just go!
The frustrating thing in April though was that I have my studio at the very end of my garden but I had to get it extended because my house had been overtaken by props since I’d grown from just cards to event styling (!) and so for the first 3-4 weeks of being full-time with this, I couldn’t get into my studio and I had to work from my kitchen table each day. Even though I was doing it full-time and it was great, I wanted so badly to go to work in my studio and live out the dream! I think it really hit home when I finally got into the studio, organised all my stock and I just felt like, ‘this is real’. It’s my haven.
Going full-time has meant there’s been so much more time for things like social media though. People can say, ‘oh she’s always on her phone’ but for me, that’s my work. Having a bigger presence on social media has definitely helped the business for obvious reason! Also, being full-time has empowered me to be brave I think. Like, really brave!
SC.SD. In what sense?
JG. So my Mum always used to say to me, “what’s meant for you won’t pass you by Junie” and that’s engrained into me now but I’m better at finding the biggest pair of brave pants in my draw, putting them on and messaging people now. A few months ago, I emailed the Editor of a big bridal magazine and it wasn’t a professional message, it was more along the lines of, ‘oh my god, I’ve just found my brave pants at the back of the tumble dryer that are making me type this to you… Please excuse me if this is rude but I was wondering how I can do this, this and this. I’d love to hear from you etc…’ and she replied with such an engaging message. I went down and met them and I’ve done events for them since!
The magazine in question was You & Your Wedding, one of the UK’s leading wedding magazines, who went on to use June’s signage at their Royal Wedding party in May, that they hosted in partnership with Hitched.
JG. I also think Jenny from Mother’s Meeting has really helped me. She put a notice out asking if anyone did design and again, the brave pants were whipped out and I sent her a message saying I’ll do it. She’s just been a legend because the exposure you get from these things and people buying off the back of them is bonkers.
SC.SD. Am I right in thinking Instagram is your biggest marketing platform?
JG. Erm, I started on Instagram last May but prior to that, I had about 1500 followers on Facebook and so Facebookhas always been my go-to because at the beginning I didn’t really understand Instagram! The Facebook followers are really, really loyal and some of them havecome over to Instagram…
SC.SD. But in general they’re two very separate crowds?
JG. Massively. I’m getting better on LinkedIn too though. Before I thought, ‘there’s no way you can put a ‘ho ho, fucking ho’ card up on LinkedIn (!) but I was at an event last week that made me think, ‘actually, I can do corporate cards!’ I’m paying for a premium account so I can find out exactly who’s who and can message them directly. Whether it’s LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram, what I always find amazing is that you have no idea who’s watching you. In summer, I had a huge events company ring me and I thought it was one of my friends winding me up to begin with but they said, “so and so has seen your work and wants you to do some bits for them but you need to sign a DNA before I explain…”
SC.SD. Do you mean an NDA?!
JG. Haha! Yes! That’s what I meant about the fancy terminology! Basically, they sent it through, I signed it and that was mega mega and I got the job, but I only got the job because the person who’s party it was had seen my Instagram, they don’t follow me, but they wanted me to work for them!
SC.SD. Who is this person?!
JG. I’m not allowed to say!
SC.SD. Are you joking!?
JG. I’m not allowed to say for two years! But it’s things like that that I love. It’s all about building those relationships because I want to work with them again.
SC.SD. I love that you said that because those relationships do take work don’t they? You need to nurture them and look after them if you want them to last…
JG. You really have to work at it and my mentality is that I only work with people who I want to work with. That sounds bad but you know what I mean?! You find your people don’t you? Some people go for the giant influencers because of numbers but if there’s no connection or anything to relate to, it’s not worth it in my opinion. Finding those connections is ace. I love it.
SC.SD. Let’s move on to the challenges…
JG. See I find this really hard! I think because I’ve been doing it a lot longer than I realise I’ve been doing it, I see it so much more as an ‘oh my god I love my job!’
SC.SD. Because you’ve had time to adjust to it?
JG. Exactly but I don’t want to sound like the annoying person that knows what she’s doing because I’m winging it every day! I’m just winging it bloody well! At the end of the day, I’m just down in the studio making my cards and wedding goodies!
SC.SD. It’s been twelve years in the making though hasn’t it so perhaps having all of that time to tweak your style and work on your pricing and build a client base when the pressure is off has paid off? Nothing has been rushed.
JG. Absolutely. My biggest challenge was always that I didn’t have enough time. Now I have the time, it’s all fallen into place.
The thing that I struggle with most personally and where this has all stemmed from is that Junie Poonie is all down to my Mum. My Mum called me Junie Poonie, my Dad calls me Junie Poonie, even my son calls me Poonie which is probably wrong (!)… although the worrying thing is I answer to it! But anyway, she got really, really poorly with breast cancer and then she got the all clear and then it came back and it was in her liver. When it became clear that she had only a matter of time left, my parents wanted to do something for me and my brothers and sister to remember her by. My Mum said to me that she wanted to get me a studio so that I could do Junie Poonie properly and so they got it built for me and I remember when it was being built just thinking how amazing it was. At the time, I didn’t think about what the cost of having it built meant.
Not from a financial point of view but actually why it was being built because she was still here. I remember being in there one day, not long after it had been done and ringing her saying, “Mum, how do I ever say thank you?” and she said, “you don’t have to say thank you, you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do. What’s meant for you Junie won’t pass you by.” From then on, however much I love my studio and as excited as I get going down to the studio each day, I know that that’s the price I’ve had to pay to have it.
Yes, there’s no daily challenges but there’re times where I just want to ring my Mum up – whether it’s to ask for her advice or whinge about something or just to hear her – but I can’t do that. Heaven doesn’t have opening hours and no matter how close I feel to her when I’m down there, sometimes a tune comes on and it can change the whole atmosphere down there. I can go from having a Sunday session in the studio to a Sunday sob. It’s a challenge that I carry everywhere though, not necessarily a business related one…
SC.SD. The fact that she believed in you and your business that much is so, so special.
JG. It’s ace and I really feel her down there with me. Sometimes I can feel her giving me a kick up the booty and I’m like, “cheers Mum!”
SC.SD. As only Mum’s can! She definitely shines through in your work though, you can see it in your designs and captions…
JG. Oh yeh. I think when you’ve loved and lost, you realise that certain things are really important, whether that’s a tiny quote or phrase that means something to somebody. Yes, I do weddings and christenings and yes, I do funny and naughty cards but one of my favourite things to work on are funerals. It sounds really bonkers but for me, being able to personalise someone’s very last goodbye means everything.
People have asked me to design personalised orders of services because they don’t want the ones you normally get with the clip art in the corner and I don’t know who these people are that I’m going to meet but I’ll rock up with a bunch of flowers and some hobnobs and ask where the kettle is as soon as I arrive because when Mum died, so many people knock at your door but I was the fool in the kitchen making tea. I now know that when I turn up to their house, they’ve probably been making so many cups of teas for visitors when actually they should just sit down. I’ll make them a cuppa, we can sit down and chat and it just lets them know that I’m human too.
SC.SD. Let’s move on to relationships… be it friends, family or business owners you’ve met along the way, to what extent have your relationships evolved, for the better or worse, as your business has got more successful?
JG. Why do I have that nervous poo feeling Fi!?
SC.SD. Hahaha that bad!?
JG. Well positive wise, absolutely brilliant! I couldn’t ask for a more supportive husband and son. We’re the ‘A team’ and it works both ways. I’m at all of my husband’s rugby games and he’s been amazing with me. We’ve been together twenty-two years so we’re best friends and he brings me cups of tea down in the studio or I’ll go down there and my little boy has tried to copy my logo and left a note saying that he’s proud of me. They’re why I do what I do. Family in general have been amazing and I’ve had so many, “you should have done it sooner” which is brilliant.
I’ve noticed the complete opposite too though where people don’t clap when you win and that’s really sad but in the same sense, I was warned that it would happen before I went full time with this. I sat with my Mentor and he said, “just be warned that it won’t all be roses. You’ll do well and there will be some people out there that won’t like that you’re doing well.”
SC.SD. It’s why I ask the question because it can sadly be the reality…
JG. It’s bonkers. Initially I took it personally and thought ‘what have I done?’ but I now know that it’s nothing to do with me. I’m growing and there’s people that I would have loved to have had beside me holding hands like we always did but it hasn’t happened that way and they haven’t clapped when I’m winning, even though I’ve clapped for them and high fived and cheer leaded!
That’s when I go back to what my Mum said though, “what’s meant for you won’t pass you by” because some people are in your life for a reason. It might be forever, it might be for a short time and I never lookback and regret friendships because the times that we did have together were bloody brilliant, but they’re clearly not meant to be for the future.
SC.SD. You learn that it’s ok to put yourself first don’t you? Running a business is tough so any form of draining energy needs to go…
JG. That’s exactly it. I don’t want to sound dramatic but in my life, Pete’s lost his Dad, I’ve lost my Mum, our son was diagnosed with type one diabetes five years ago which is life changing, he has five injections a day. Side note, he’s even done his own little business from it all from a £40 business loan from the bank of Mum and Dad! He’s nicked my card and makes his own cards and mugs to raise awareness and a smile for diabetes! We can be down in the studio together and we put nanny’s ‘Stand by me’ song on and have a little sing song and make our bits… Anyway, when you go through shitty times like that, you quickly realise that you don’t need any more shit that’s not real. You go through so much that when things come along and cause drama that’s not necessary, I say BE GONE!
SC.SD. You’ve mentioned Jemma, the Hub, Mother’s Meeting etc… so on the flipside, have you gained any relationships since launching this business?
JG. I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t Fi!
SC.SD. Hence why I asked my dear! Yes, a handful of friendships can fade away but launching a business can open doors to a whole new network and group of friends…
JG. Absolutely! You can meet one person and they introduce you to someone else and so on! For instance, I met Katy (Hill) through my old job, we hit it off from the offset, she’s a bloody little legend, such a lovely soul, she said I needed to meet her friend Hayley (Southwood, Founder of Southwood Social Hub) so I did and I remember thinking it was bonkers because we’d both lost our Mums, my parents used to have an ice cream van that I helped out in and Hayley bought an ice cream van when her Mum died, it was just nuts. So yes, I’m in the Southwood Social Hub which is where I met you of course and also Jenny Scott from Mothers Meeting has been phenomenal for support and cheerleading and kicking me up the ass. She’s been bloody brilliant.
SC.SD. You learn to surround yourself with those people though don’t you?
JG. Absolutely. It opens so many doors and so many opportunities to collaborate. Years ago, I would never think I’d be friends with people from within my industry because I thought we’d step on each other’s toes but sometimes, together really is better. It sounds so cliché but it’s so true. For example, Jemma was at one of the supper clubs and when she saw her place card that I had designed for the event she was like, ‘I need to meet this girl for my plants!’ She messaged me asking to meet up, we went for coffee and now we’re hook line and sinker us two! She’s so focused and she has such a strong vision; she’s amazing.
SC.SD. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given since launching this business that you’d want to pass on to anyone reading this looking to launch their own business or manage the business they’ve already launched?
JG. A wise young lady once told me, “when they go low, go high!”
SC.SD. Hahaha she sounds very wise June!
JG. Doesn’t she just! It’s you baby!
SC.SD. Stolen from Michelle Obama admittedly but I’ll take it!
JG. It’s true though and it really stuck with me. My mentor once told me that I just need to focus on the things that matter too. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by a giant to do list but what actually matters? Both personally and at work, focus on what’s important. I went to a ‘get lit’ retreat in summer which is so not like me…
SC.SD. Get lit? As in, get high?!
JG. No! Self-love Fi! Anyway (!) I drove to this beautiful manor house in London, rocked up on my own and it was all about self-love. It was a day I needed so badly! I let so much shit go and it brought me so much happiness. One of the things I learnt there though was that when you wake up, before you reach for your phone or whatever it is that you do first thing, just give yourself a moment of self-love. It makes such a difference.
SC.SD. It’s so true though. I know some people spend a good half hour writing down affirmations for first thing each day but I wake up and just tell myself, ‘no matter what happens today, I’ll handle it’ and I’m set…
JG. It’s all you need!
SC.SD. Last question then, to round off, when I say, “what makes running Junie Poonie all worth it June?” what would you say?
JG. I’d say, knowing that I’m now doing what was meant for me from my Mama’s point of view but also from my own point of view means everything. I’ve never been happier and seeing my customers happy and seeing my boys happy knowing that they know I’m in my element, makes me happy. That makes it all worth it. I’m a hopeless romantic Fi! There you go… CHEESE FEST.
SC.SD. Do you know what though, who doesn’t love a good cheesy ending?!
There is so much that I admire about June and her story that I’m all too aware that these concluding remarks will never quite do it all justice but given that I can’t just leave this space blank (!) here’s a little bit about why I think she and her business is loved by so many.
From the photos of her family and late Mum dotted all over her studio that remind her each day about why Junie Poonie began and who’s rooting for her to win; her traditional methods of letting customers come and go to pick up their parcels and Whatsapp her when they need a last-minute card or gift to be made; to the imaginative extra touches that she adds to certain deliveries ‘just because’, that put the biggest smile on her customers faces when their parcel(s) arrives; there’s a realness to June that puts you at ease in an instant and a willingness to go above and beyond to help every potential customer feel cared for and understood.
What is more, having started Junie Poonie as a hobby eleven yearsago, June managed to overcome the challenges that tend to cause headaches for new business owners in the initial months – building a client base, nailing the brand, managing cash flow to name but a few – before the pressure of Junie Poonie becoming her sole income came to the fore. As a result, her business mindset is not clouded by angst and nothing but pure love for what she has created for herself shines through.
As her business mentor was right to point out for her though, running a business “won’t always be roses” unfortunately and not everyone has wanted her to win along the way. With her Mama’s wise words firmly fixed in her mind however, June’s found the courage to put herself and her energy, in that scenario, first.
Her late Mama bought her a studio so that she could live out her dream.
With her newfound brave pants that she’s been wearing ever since she went full-time in April and the unwavering support from her husband and son at home, Junie Poonie has created a business for herself that embodies every bit of wonderful that she is and as result, she’s doing herself, her boys and her Mama proud.