Traveling with two active boys means you have to pack every last little bauble. That was the inspiration behind the new Wistful Weekender shown on the bottom left which debuts this Fall. The “Rambling Rose” fabric trim that adorns the bag was inspired by the rustic metal gate in Hong Kong and the simple form of succulents found all over Costa Rica.
Famous for distinctive designs and their original “boxy” backpack diaper bag, Petunia Pickle Bottom has become a powerhouse brand in the juvenile products market, evolving beyond diaper bags to gift sets, carriers and more. This week we’re talking to the company’s founder, DeNai Jones, to find out what inspires her, and her interview provides a glimpse into how she integrates parenting, business and marriage — an apt inspiration for her successful fusion of fashion and function.
(On a personal note, Costa Rica is quickly becoming a “must see” destination” for me and my family as I marvel at the number of awe-inspiring designers we work with who list it among their favorite destinations.)
Ali Wing: What is your motto?
DeNai Jones: Be in the moment. Raising my boys and making our home fun-loving is my utmost task, but when I’m in the office I have to turn it on full force, make the most of my time. Learning to harness your mind and really enjoy the moment is a discipline I am always practicing.
AW: What inspires you?
DJ: I’m inspired by so many things, but mostly I would say travel and all things vintage. Things from yesteryear really speak to me and the attention to detail is never lost on me. I scour flea markets and find inspiration in every little nook and cranny. Travel really sparks my creative juices. We just got back from Costa Rica and the cultural experiences have already influenced color and texture in my latest designs.
AW: What color are you loving right now?
DJ: Yellows, as well as neutrals with a bit of neon.
AW: What are you currently reading?
DJ: I just finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen while on vacation. The fact that I had some alone time to pick up a book during naptime was pure bliss.
AW: What is your favorite city/location/destination?
DJ: I definitely have more than one. If I am with family, Costa Rica is my destination of choice. It’s the ideal location to just “check out” and enjoy the culture and sunshine. It’s really family-friendly and my boys love to explore the land and sea. If I am with my husband, I will usually always opt to head to New York or Palm Springs. I love NYC for the electric charge of the busy streets, the museums, shopping and top-notch eateries. Palm Springs is where we go to sort of spoil ourselves with a stay at a tucked away oasis. These of course don’t happen all that often, which makes them all the more special.
AW: Who is your favorite composer, or what is your favorite music genre?
DJ: I’m not tied to one genre of music but it’s a big part of our life for sure. I love everything from bluegrass to eclectic and we’re big fans of KCRW. It really depends on my mood also. If I need to calm the mood with my boys, I’ll put on classical, but later that night we might bust out our laser machine and some “big drums” as my 4 year old calls it and have a full-blown dance party with our kids in our living room.
The incredible detail of vintage items always inspires DeNai’s design. The culture, color and life of a recent trip to Costa Rica served as inspiration for a bright pattern that will be released next Spring.
AW: What was your most favorite baby gift?
DJ: There were so many wonderful gifts, but it’s a hand-made one that has probably meant the most. My friend made an album with an envelope on each page. In each envelope was a card with a number on it starting with 1 and going to 18. The cards represented the age of our son through the years. Guests at my baby shower were asked to write a note to our unborn child that would pertain to that age or stage in life. Our son is now 4 and we really look forward to opening his 5th card on his birthday this year. Those handwritten notes from people that love us, and loved him before he was born, are really special mementos.
AW: What is your proudest parenting moment?
DJ: Hearing “I love you mommy” with a big squeeze, out of the blue. One of these little morsels of love can instantly wash away a tough day with the kids.
AW: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
DJ: My boys Sutton and Milller — they are my greatest achievements. Second, enjoying owning a business with my husband Braden and best friend Korie. The fact that we are still having fun and raising our families at the same time says a lot about the fabric of our friendship and commitment. We just celebrated 10 years of Petunia and that is something I’m also very proud of.
And please complete the following:
….make(s) me laugh.
DJ: My 2 and 4-year-old’s comments. I can share a few gems with you:
“Dad, the rollie pollie is going to take a nap in the microwave”
“Miller’s fingers look like noodles, I am going to eat them”
“She has a clip in her hair, like the chip bag clip”