Q&A With Karen Haffelfinger, Founder of Juniper & Ivy
Karen Haffelfinger is an amazing woman who knows a thing or two about running a successful business. After 19 years in the beauty and salon industry she is now the the owner of Juniper & Ivy, an Austin-based online boutique shop launching November 1st, a single mom to two and the multi-passionate woman entrepreneur I’m featuring in my interview series this month.
Karen and I talked about her fave Austin hot spots, about balancing motherhood and business and about how her desire to have something of her own led her to launch her own business this season. I have known Karen for over a decade. We met when we both worked for Wella/Sebastian at the time and immediately hit it off over our shared love for music--especially Ryan Adams and Wilco, Tex-Mex, dogs, Austin, and forever being "cool" moms. She was also a former model who has walked major runways and equally loved fashion as much as I do.
It was a no brainer for me when I got a call from Karen about a month ago and accepted a position with Juniper & Ivy. With my e-commerce background, and skillset in website design, social media knowledge, and blogging--we make the perfect team. Karen has an amazing eye and is a fabulous buyer and really understands the numbers and business side of things. I am thrilled to make a trip to Austin at the end of the month to get Karen ready for her November launch. We have so much product to shoot and need to iron out some last minute details to the site but you loves are seriously in for such a treat and I know that you are going to adore the carefully curated collection that Juniper & Ivy is bringing to your home and closet. I am still very much committed full time to Go French Yourself----- but am happy to have some other projects in the works and would never pass down an opportunity like this.
Read on to learn more about Karen and her path to owning a successful business that will provide her the money and lifestyle she desires--while having flexibility to take care of her children and her beautiful Austin Ranch.
Q & A WITH KAREN:
- What led you to launch your new on-line boutique Juniper & Ivy ?!
I have been wanting to have my own store for a few years now. Over the last 3 years, I spent time researching other shops being a customer in order to see what worked and what didn't for them. Also as a customer I researched brands and could see which ones were of high quality. Before I was in sales I had the opportunity to model professionally. That took me to Paris, NYC, Milan and Nashville where I was always surrounded by fashion. Two of my favorite designer's I worked with were Georgio Armani and Oscar de la Renta. I modeled for almost 10 years. Most recently I was in outside sales in the Professional Beauty division of P&G for 19 years. I am so excited about owning my own business now.
-When were you were younger , did you have an any inkling that you would one day own your own business ?!
It was always in the back of mind, yes and I wanted to--I just never had the tools when I was younger to know what steps to take in order to do so! Surrounding yourself with others who do own their own businesses, you will learn that they are usually eager to share their success and mistakes with you if you just ask.
- Did you ever think we would we working together on a project like this ?!
I didn't, but I am so thrilled that we are!!!! There is a reason after working together so many moons ago that we always remained close friends and kept in touch--this was meant to be.
- Deciding to leave the corporate world that you have worked in for so long ?? How hard was the decision to finally launch your new venture?
You know life is funny....being creatures of habit you need the rug pulled out from under you in order to initiate a change your heart was always wanting to make, but fear stopped you. That is what happened with me. After 19 years while the company was going through a merger I was told they were eliminating my position. Talk about shock and fear--but then suddenly the clouds dissipated and I thought "NOW is my opportunity to do what I've always been wanting to do!!" The shock and fear slowly disappeared and changed into daily excitement!! Especially when I decided to team up with Sam on this business. What I love about launching my own venture is knowing that all of the hard work I will put into it, that my business will reap the rewards from it. It's time for me to put my heart and soul into what I love and I want to share that with others.
-Mother to two darling kids! Tell me a little bit about Anna and Ben ?!
I am a single mom to two kiddos. Anna is 11 and my son Ben who I adopted just turned 3. My daughter is my consult on many things related to the store. She loves playing the ukulele, sewing and competing on her horse at 4H. She actually started an instagram account for our two goats Juniper & Ivy who inspired my new shop's name. (I always knew that would be a great name for a business) She would love new followers! Ben is mainly all about trains, cars, and anything construction related. He is all about driving his new Jeep all over our property these days.
And the Haffelfinger farm ?!
My haven. We have a wonderful little home outside of Austin with about 3 acres. We have our horses, Cisco, "firecracker" Willie and our miniature appaloosa Olive. Along with the horses we have two ducks MingMing and Daisy, many chickens and a few roosters, a rabbit named Logan, and Juniper and Ivy our dwarf pygmy goats. There is never a dull moment around here to say the least.
-Fave room in your house and why ?
My favorite room is my kitchen. With the remodel, I ended up going with gold accents throughout, and I love it. I found a beautiful rose gold faucet and went with gold on the hardware for cabinets, but it has the raw wood countertops mixed with custom wall shelves using metal pipes....I just love how the mix all came together. For paint colors I went with white for upper with a deep dark blue paint on the base cabinets. I just love everything about that room now. It's so open and perfect for gathering.
The logo is perfection ! Who did you use and why should others call him / her right away ?
Thank you! I have a good friend Kristin, and her fiancé is Stone Slade of Wet Media Designs. I made a great choice using him, he was awesome!
- What can shoppers expect to find at Juniper & Ivy when the site officially goes live November 1st ?
A wonderful variety of things!! Right now our Wellness section is my favorite. We will have wonderful baskets from Africa and handmade Kantha quilts from India- to amazing affordable clothing. There is something for everyone!
-What brands you are most excited to carry ?!
There is a designer from London that we are working with and I love everything she does!! I have to say, as much as I love all of our clothes, I am very excited about selling hand-made goods made in Africa, India and Vietnam that are fair trade products.
- Favorite thing from the shop you ordered for yourself ? And why ?
The first thing I ordered was what we call the snuggle sweater!! It was a huge hit when we did a pre-launch on it and sold it prior to our opening! It is the epitome of that one perfect sweater that you live in every fall, the one you can't wait to pull out on the first chilly day.
-What excites you the most about the new business ?
Being able to be my own boss, and knowing that along with that responsibility comes me having to own up to mistakes that I am bound to make. With mistakes, comes a natural desire I have to overcome and be better. My favorite part so far on this journey has been the shopping! It has been so fun shopping for the store!!
- How long have you been in Austin ?
I was born and raised here, there are a few of us left!
-Fave places to eat, sip , and play in ATX?!
You can never go wrong with Bouldin Creek! That placed is delicious anytime of day. If it's a late night, Magnolia for their queso. I always enjoy Elizabeth street café, Perlas, Casa de Luz, or Madam Mam's for lunch. Botticelli's is a favorite dinner spot--the owners are friends and I love supporting their delicious restaurant. Vespaio, Uchi, Maudie's are also fantastic- there isn't anyway to list all of the amazing places we have here in Austin as options. We are lucky. On any night of week, C-boy's and The Continental are gonna be good! You never know who may be there either, Lady Gaga sightings, JaRule, to Benicio Del Toro....it's always a good time and they have the best staff!
-Your fave memory of 2017 this far ?
Oh goodness, I just finished a full house re-model...so I would have to say my favorite memory was when I finally (after two months of living without a kitchen) our kitchen was finally finished and it was just what I envisioned it to be! Plus that meant there were no more making school lunches on the washing machine!
-Your fave holiday present last year ?
Anything handmade from my kids, those are my favorite.
-What was your 2017 New Years Resolution? Any ideas for 2018 yet ?!
I don't make resolutions, but our family does have a tradition that involves the fire pit on the Ranch. We will have friends over and after dinner we all have squares of paper and write down what was negative throughout the year and we have a ritual of burning them in the fire pit. It is so therapeutic to watch them turn into ashes and dissipate. Getting rid of the negative energy that has been bothering you opens the space for the positive energy to come in the new year.
-Describe your personal style ?
Oh goodness, I love a relaxed bohemian look... I live in classic cuts and still love my favorite jeans with a fancy blouse.
-What item can't you stop wearing ?!
My suede loafers, I bought them in every color they had!
-Whose closet do you want to raid ?!
I'm not sure I can pick anyone's closet but if I could own everything out of one store it would be J. Crew.
-What are you currently listening to ?
Always Ryan Adams, he's like the foundation to all of my other music. Having an 11 year old, I get exposed to music I normally wouldn't pick to listen to---so out of that I learned I actually like some of the songs on the Harry Styles record (did I just admit that?). I am a huge NPR person, it's on in my car most days.
-What inspires you Karen ?!
When I see others creating more goodness in this world that inspires me to be better and share it as well. Out of that I would have to say my kids inspire me.
Juniper & Ivy goes live the morning of November 1st. And we really hope you will come take a peak and do some shopping with us. Go ahead and sign up now so you can be the first to be in-the-know. Do that here.
The collections are absolutely beautiful--home goods, textiles, beautiful things for the garden, stationary, apothecary, accessories, handbags, and gorgeous clothing. I am personally in love with the velvet pieces Karen is bringing in for the holiday. I also love the belly baskets and the quilts. The wellness products are definitely a fave too.
Our instagram page will be live soon and I will update that link once it's ready. Tag your purchases using the hashtag #juniperandivylove as we will be doing a weekly regram of our favorites. In the meantime you can and should follow us on face-book. We just honored our followers with dibs on 6 amazing pre-sale items and plan on doing more exclusive things for you dears over there. We just want to keep things fun and interesting and really create a brand that you guys fall in love with it.
We realize that small, special things can inspire and enrich your daily life, whether it be a new cozy sweater or perfect little black dress, a new leather journal, a beautiful quilt, stocking your bathroom with fabulous candles, or meditation crystals to remind you to just slow down.
And there you have Juniper & Ivy - set out to present the most special, beautiful things that add a unique touch to day-to-day living.
The Juniper & Ivy lifestyle: embracing the solitude of the country, a collection of mismatched handmade ceramics, rosemary lemon butter on freshly baked bread, various breeds of succulents and greenery scattered throughout the home, a garden full of vegetables, a couch filled with vintage pillows and quilts, freshly cut flowers throughout the home, trips to the farmers' market, linen sheets, slip-on booties and your favorite t-shirts on a Saturday and the perfect trend setter piece for the rock concert and the everyday pieces to carry you on all your travels.
We are beyond excited!!! And I am so proud of my friend Karen for taking this leap. I know that if anyone can do it, she can.
(All black & white photography is by the wonderful Todd Wolfson)