Startup Spotlight: JUGS

Feb 12, 2017

Startup Spotlight: JUGS

Feb 12, 2017

This week we spoke to Cameron Bruns, co-founder of JUGS (Just us Gals). JUGS is a women’s lifestyle and entrepreneurship blog, which features local influences and female entrepreneurs and hosts events!

GH: What is JUGS?

“JUGs” stands for Just Us Gals, and it’s the name of our women’s conscious lifestyle and entrepreneurship blog. The blog is best known for our “Who’s That Gal” column which features interviews with local female founders and influencers. Each month we have our interviewees speak at a live event, Ladies Lounge, co-hosted by General Assembly and WeWork.

GH: What is your name and role?

My name is Cameron Bruns and I am one of the JUGs co-founders along with Suzanne Lewis and Meredith Tennihan. For the first few years, as we were building the blog, it was just the three of us. Now, we have a growing team of contributors, including a professional career coach!

GH: What was your Eureka moment: How did JUGs get started?

JUGS actually started from our book club e-mail chain. Our group of girlfriends constantly spammed each other with information about events, sales, and cool articles from around the web. Meredith, Suzanne and I thought it would be great to centralize all of this great content — and clear our inboxes — so, the blog was born!

We started by focusing on hyperlocal Boston content, which evolved into us interviewing local (lady) business owners. The column made for a natural partnership with General Assembly and WeWork since they were featuring a lot of these same women as speakers at their Ladies Lounge events. So, for the past two years, we’ve curated the Ladies Lounge speakers series. We have so much fun at the events and they keep us perpetually awed and inspired by the amazing people around us. We’ve also expanded to LA! Suzanne moved there last year and is building great connections with the gal bosses out on the west coast.

GH: How did you build your team?

Suzanne, Meredith and I built the blog together, but we took roles that fit our strengths. Suzanne is a web designer so she takes care of the technical aspects of our site. I’ve been blogging since 2010, so I helped build our social media channels by tapping into the blogger community. And Meredith’s keen eye for style and trends keeps our content relevant and shareable.

This year, as we worked to build our team of contributors, we were looking for passionate Bostonians looking to build a writing/blogging portfolio. We found great candidates simply by reaching out on social media!

GH: Startup life is full of failures and “make it work” moments- can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?

Blogging is full of experimentation. Though JUGs is a side hustle for everyone on the team (we all have full time jobs), we try to treat the blog like a business. But keeping the blog as a side hustle also means the stakes are lower so we have more freedom to play around and see what works. We started a lot of columns on the blog that we ditched after seeing that they weren’t getting much traffic. Some of these failed columns include our Sunday True Confessions (embarrassing stories about our personal lives), Daily Read (feature about our favorite blogs from around the web), and event recaps (turns out people aren’t interested in events they didn’t attend; they’re already ready for the next thing).

But this content experimentation also helped us identify our strengths. For example, the Who’s That Gal column might not have existed if we didn’t start out by featuring our favorite bloggers in the original Daily Read column.

We’re constantly trying new things and are always open to feedback on how to be a better resource for our readers and event attendees.

GH: What is the philosophy driving your company culture? 

Our mission is to be a “light-hearted voice for women leading compassionate, fulfilling lives.” Our pillars of compassion and fulfillment reflect our passion for conscious living and meaningful careers. This drives our content culture because instead of featuring big box businesses and sponsors on the blog, we feature small, ethical brands and companies that give back. Sustainability, health, diversity and empowerment are undertones in a lot of our content – but we keep it all light and fun at the same time.

GH: What did you learn from your first members?

Our readers and event attendees are the best! We learn so much from them and are incredibly thankful for their feedback. We are in the process of incorporating more reader feedback through our new #AskJUGS career column. Readers of all employment experience are encouraged to submit their questions, which we’ll have a career coach answer on the blog! We’re also switching up our Ladies Lounge events to include a quarterly mixer – which will encourage more open conversation and networking than the traditional panel model.

GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?

JUGs was built for the Boston ecosystem. Our goal from the outset was to be a fun events and lifestyle resource for Boston women, and other Boston women have supported us the whole way. In particular, the Boston Blogger community has been a major source of inspiration and support over the years. Some of these women have become lifelong friends!

GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacks in your perspective?

The Boston ecosystem isn’t missing anything per se, but in order for us to continue to grow and broaden JUGs to a wider audience, we need to push our content a bit past Boston. We launched in LA last year, and it’s been fun to incorporate some of the west coast perspective.

GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?

When we conduct our “Who’s That Gal” interviews, we always ask this question – so we’ve heard lots of inspiring and practical advice over the years.One particular piece of advice that sticks out is from Nataly Kogan of Happier, who reminded us that happiness is a skill that requires practice. A gratefulness and happiness practice is key to success no matter what you’re working on.

GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?

We had our first completely sold out Ladies Lounge event, and even had more than 60 people on the waiting list! It was so good to see that our message is resonating and that we are providing value to the community of like-minded gals.

GH: What does the future hold for JUGS?

We’re currently working on rebranding Ladies Lounge to appeal to a wider audience – after all, it is important for men to come hear the stories and experiences of female founders! And of course, keep an eye out for our quarterly networking mixers that are new in 2017!

 

Learn more about JUGS here

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