Emily Soloby never expected to create a workboot brand. But Juno Jones Safety Boots is truly the culmination of her passions and experiences.
After starting her career as an attorney specializing in women’s and children’s rights, Soloby left the legal field to help her husband take over the family business, a trucking and safety training school in Philadelphia. Over the next decade, she immersed herself in that industry, while continuing to support women’s issues with professional organizations like Women in Trucking. Work Boot
But Soloby — who is a self-labeled shoe lover and even studied shoemaking as a hobby — found herself frustrated with her wardrobe options. “I’d be going from client meetings to a job site and I only had my normal shoes or what I could find when I was shopping [for workboots], which were super ugly,” she said.
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And she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. “I started talking to members of Women in Trucking [about starting a work brand], and they were like, ‘Yes, please do this. We have nothing. We have no options. What’s out there isn’t suiting us, either that it’s clunky and just not fitting our feet right. And it makes us feel undermined, like we’re not thought of as legitimate in the workplace.'”
Soloby launched Juno Jones with a Kickstarter campaign in February 2020 and by mid-March had raised more than $31,000 from 184 backers to fund the first production run. She said that despite the uncertainties of the pandemic at that time, the funding happened quickly because she’d spent time laying the groundwork and building a community around the brand.
“Our mission is to empower women in these industries to know that they belong, they’re acknowledged, that they’re legitimate and they can be safe too,” Soloby said. Her efforts include hosting a podcast called “Hazard Girls” to spread the word about career options for women in the trades. “There’s such a gap in the workforce right now, and women are the untapped resource for filling all of these jobs that are needed.”
In addition to the trucking industry, Soloby said Juno Jones is attracting customers engaged in construction and farming, as well as indoor jobs in manufacturing, warehousing, material handling and the sciences.
And after starting as direct-to-consumer, the brand has garnered retail support as well. Roughly half of the business is now wholesale, according to Soloby. Key retail partners include Zappos and Duluth Trading Company, and the brand is looking to add other accounts that cater to the workboot customer.
The Juno Jones collection consists of two silhouettes. The original look, the Meti (retailing for $259), is a water-resistant jodhpur-style ankle boot that comes in black, brown and red leather, as well as olive suede. The Serpentine ($269) is a laced leather style with an 8-inch suede shaft, offered in black and brown versions.
Both of the boots have a fashion aesthetic, but they are also fully equipped for the worksite. They’re ASTM F-2413-18 certified for impact and compression with steel safety toes. The shoes are also Electrical Hazard certified and come with a puncture-resistant midsole and nonslip lug outsoles that are oil and gas resistant.
Looking ahead, Soloby said that Juno Jones will introduce more price point options in the coming year. And she is continuing to seek out industry organizations and retail and distribution partners to reach women in the workforce. “As a small business, we are looking to make those connections and get our foot in the door so that we can be a part of the choices that are available,” she said.
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