Milk & Mascara’s First Fridays Feature continues with a behind the scenes look at the mommy and son duo of the online fashion retailer Donuts + Dinosaurs. We caught up with Jonette Gogue and her son CJ to find out the meaning of the brand’s adorable name, what inspired her to add to her already full plate and how CJ pulls his weight as her little VP.
What inspired you to start Donuts + Dinosaurs? How would you describe D+D’s style?
To be honest, I got so tired of seeing the same clothes on kids when C.J and I would go to parties or family functions. The clothes that I would see at stores wouldn’t really match CJ’s personality. I also wanted items that celebrated the mommy and me relationship with clothes that make you laugh and exude your sense of style. So one day, I decided I was going to start a mommy and me online children store with clothes that did exactly that. Next thing you know, I became a business owner.
I like to describe the D+D style as fun and trendy. We incorporate love in every item, using quality materials and witty messages that celebrate our greatest gift in life – our children. As fellow mommies might agree, the best part of us will always be them.
How did you come up with the name Donuts + Dinosaurs?
I wanted a name that represented my son and I. Donuts and Dinosaurs is a nod to my son’s devotion to dinosaurs along with my love for the holed confection. Some people don’t know the reason why I love donuts so much. My dad would work crazy hours and he was hardly ever home. My sisters and I would wake up to a pink box of donuts with a note from my dad telling us to have a good day, make sure our room was clean, be sure to take care of each other and that he loved us. I always looked forward to seeing a pink box on the table in the morning. Everything about our store has something personal about me and my family.
My favorite aspect of running the business is that we serve a purpose in what we do and that we do everything together. D+D is truly a mommy and me business. C.J helps me pick out items, gives me ideas, helps me with packaging and signs his own thank you cards. I knew it was going to be a lot of work and very time consuming. I think what surprised me most was the amount of love and support we have received from everyone, including strangers. I didn’t expect our business to be so busy, especially when I didn’t pay for advertisements or utilize social media to its full potential. It is truly a blessing.
What advice do you have for a ‘mompreneur’ just starting out?
Don’t lose sight of what matters most to you. Running a business is a lot of hard work and it requires a lot of time. Being a mom is not an easy task especially if you have multiple children. It is important to have a balance. This is your business and you’re the boss, just remember that being a mommy comes first. I struggle with finding a balance and I’m still working on it. What I won’t do is sacrifice my time with C.J.. I cherish our moments together.
What are your favorite items for spring? What current trends are your favorite? What trends do you see that are up and coming?
OMG I love rompers on little girls. My current favorite trend would be joggers. Spring trends that I’ve been seeing are Chino shorts, lace and fringe, and gingham print.
You wear many hats in life – mom, career, entrepreneur – what keeps you on top of it all? What keeps you motivated?
Christopher Joe aka C.J. He is my lifeline and everything I do is with him in mind. He keeps me going; especially on those days when I’m feeling deflated and start to doubt myself.
Any news or new products on the horizon for D&D that you would like to share?
We are working on launching a line that embraces our island roots. It is really difficult for us to purchase apparel that represents our Chamorro culture (Jonette’s family is from the island of Guam. Like me!) Shipping is so expensive and can take a while. We have a large local Polynesian community and we want to be able to cater to that market. We also have some cute spring/summer items that will be launching soon. So we are super excited on whats to come for D+D!
You donate the first 10% of every purchase to the Special Olympics. Why is that organization close to your heart?
I have a sister named Jasmine who was born with Trisomy 9, a chromosomal disorder. Although she may look different to some people, she is normal to all of us. Jasmine is so athletic and she loves everything about sports. She participated in the Special Olympics at her school. Her face would light up during those games. I remember when she did a relay race. She was the first to cross the finish line but she went back to help others cross the finish line as well. The oath for the Special Olympics is “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” We decided to donate to the Special Olympics as a devotion for Jas. She is the heart of our family and its important that we celebrate diversity.
What is your favorite outing or activity that you and CJ like to do?
Anything and everything that has to do with dinosaurs is CJ’s! Visiting a dinosaur exhibit at a museum, reading a book about dinosaurs or putting a dinosaur puzzle together. Just seeing how excited and passionate he is about dinosaurs makes my heart smile. He just turned three and he can seriously name every dinosaur you could think of as well as which dinosaurs are herbivores or carnivores.
I have always admired your strong cultural identity and how much you value family. What do you do to instill this value in CJ?
I owe all of that to my father. He instilled in my siblings and I that family is everything and that all we have is each other. As a child our foundation was our values, culture and tradition. We were taught to protect each other, respect our family and stay true to our roots. I plan on doing the same with my son. I try to create little family traditions but he is still very young to where he really wouldn’t understand. I hope that when he is old enough to understand I can instill these same values and that he will do the same with his children.
What 3 items would we find in your purse or diaper bag that you can’t live without?
Baby wipes, hand sanitizer and chapstick.
I think Jonette nailed her goal of not only creating clothing items that celebrate the mommy and me relationship but are also humorous and exude a certain style. Below are some of my favorites from her collection.
This outfit tho.
This Face Tho Shirt & Jogger Set, $24, 12 mos – 4T
Yessss. I know some children who are all stars on this team.
No Sleep Romper, $18, 9 mos – 18 mos
Yes you are! Let everyone know baby.
Young, Fresh & Blessed Tee, $20, 2T to 12
No one has your back like your moma!
Mama is My Bestie, $22, limited size range available.