As a young woman currently in the makings of myself, I have come to realize that there are many things in life that I cannot make happen. I often wish for events to turn out a certain way, at a certain time, and under a certain circumstance. However, this is not how life works. As a young believer in Christ, with guidance and leadership from many great influencers, I have found comfort in knowing that many circumstances in life are simply “God things.” If we strip away our cars that make us faster, our machines that make us stronger, and other technologies that make us seem smarter, it’s really God making things happen for us. I have been taught that when it comes down to it, the greatest successes come from hard work with a strong faith and a never-ending trust that the Lord will pull through. I have experienced it myself and witnessed it through the people who taught it to me.
Joanna Godwin, better known to myself and many others as JoJo, is one of those great influences in my life. Growing up with JoJo as a family friend, I have always been inspired not only by her faith, but also by her entire being. When she first asked to hire me as a writer/blogger for her company, JoJoSox, I was thrilled. I knew that working with JoJo was going to be an amazing experience just because of who she is. I was excited to listen to her story, and I had high hopes that her kindness, graciousness, and faith in the Lord would somewhat rub off on and inspire me. When I sat down with her for the first time to hear her JoJoSox story, I knew right away that my hopes were going to be fulfilled.
Something that JoJo and I both know is this: There are times in life when all hope seems lost and we feel like we have no idea what we can do to fix things. In 2009, this is about where JoJo’s family was. Her husband, Kenny, is in the building business, which was then struggling tremendously due to the recession. JoJo, a stay-at-home mom, recalled to me a day when her husband came to her completely vulnerable and said, “I feel like I’m watching the business God helped me build slip through my fingers, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Being JoJo, she immediately knew that she had to do something to help. She brainstormed about what she could possibly do. JoJo’s brother had helped start a sock manufacturing company that had proven to be very successful. She remembers her kids referring to his socks as “Uncle John’s magic socks.” As JoJo prayed for an answer as to how she could help her family’s financial needs, she felt that the answer had something to do with socks. When she told Kenny about her idea, he shared with her that this was the same answer he felt the Lord was showing to him. They had both prayed. They had both been given the same idea. Boom. God thing. JoJo remembers a night when she sat in her driveway and called her eldest daughter, Jessica, and shared the idea with her. She disclosed to me that, “Jessica has always had great wisdom about the right direction we needed to go.” Her daughter immediately loved the idea, and their conversation ended with an enthusiastic, “Let’s do it.”
I know what you’re thinking. How the heck does one just randomly start a business selling ordinary socks? This is where one of JoJo’s hobbies gave her an edge. As a longtime horseback rider, JoJo knew that riders love to wear and show off crazy, colorful socks at events. She also knew that there were no good socks on the market made specifically for short boots. This is how she came up with the length and design of her socks. When she contacted her brother with her idea, he helped her get a meeting with the visionary owner in North Carolina. After having many others come to him with big ideas that quickly died away, he assumed JoJo’s experience would be yet another “fly-by-night” failure. She promised him it would not. After agreeing on thirty-day terms to prove herself, JoJo had her socks in hand within two weeks. She loaded the trunk of her car, and along with her husband, hit the road to try and find buyers. They travelled all the way down to the southern part of Florida and up to Maryland, calling on stores and looking for interested buyers. They were out of socks within a few short weeks. JoJo estimates that about ninety-eight percent of the stores she offered to ended up buying her socks. Kenny warned her that it wasn’t reality that so many stores would buy socks from a “rookie salesperson.” JoJo insists it was “by the grace of God.” Once again, God thing.
When she first began her mission, JoJo was a little timid about asking stores to be her buyers. As she continued and found success, she became more and more confident in her socks and herself. When she found out that an owner of one of the stores selling her socks was going to attend Rolex Kentucky in 2010, she asked him if she could tag along and sell her socks in his booth. Upon arrival, JoJo remembers walking down the aisles at Rolex when she stumbled upon a booth for the World Equestrian Games. Before she could contemplate the idea enough to psych herself out, she approached a worker and began telling him about her socks. Unbeknownst to her, this man was actually the president of marketing for the World Equestrian Games. God thing. In our interview, JoJo thought back with a look of astounding gratitude and said, “All I could think was wow. God, did you really open this door for me?” The man told JoJo that he would let her submit her socks if she could have them produced within what was a very short time frame. What she told him was, “Sure! I’m so confident they will sell that I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse! I’ll make them, bring them, and you only have to buy what I sell!” What she was thinking was, “Did I really just say that?” Her words to me personally at this point during our interview were, “Sometimes God opens a door, and you just have to walk through it.” JoJo now sponsors multiple professionals who rank among the top riders in the world. To the ones who first took interest in her socks and helped her business really take off, she says she is “eternally grateful. They were all so kind to me, and I was amazed at how excited they would get over my simple product. They were so real. It was all God. I had nothing to give them but socks.”
Eventually, it occurred to JoJo that these socks could be for more than just riders. The equestrian market is pretty confined, but almost every town has a mainstream boutique. She went to stores, listened, and figured out what people wanted. She recalls that, “I would find myself saying things and wonder in my head how I even came up with that.” But somehow, God always made it happen. JoJo began selling at tradeshows in Denver, California, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. She also began selling at a few local markets. She realized how well she was actually doing when she asked a close friend what she considered a good day at a market to be for sales, and the amount she was selling was far above and beyond her friend’s response. JoJoSox are now sold in over eight hundred stores throughout the U.S. and Canada, with a small amount in Australia and through a European distributor. As a personal owner of many pairs, I can make the claim the JoJoSox are cute, comfortable, and definitely something I would suggest to others to purchase.
JoJo’s family and mine have both attended Cornerstone Community Church in Orangeburg, SC, for quite some time now. When I sat down with her, JoJo asked me if I remembered the sermon when our pastor handed out magnets that read, “Dream big. Chase hard.” As I thought back, she told me a story. After that sermon, JoJo had stuck her magnet on a filing cabinet in her office. One stressful day, she walked into her office and saw that her magnet had somehow fallen down onto her desk, right on top of a pile of bills that she had been worrying about how to pay. God thing.
Dream big. Chase hard. She knew that was what God was telling her to do, and that’s just what she did. A verse that JoJo has always looked to during her journey is Proverbs 14:23, which reminds us that, “All hard work leads to profit.” It does not say SOME GOOD. It does not say BREAKEVEN. It says PROFIT. JoJo is a true picture of hard work, dedication, and true faith. JoJoSox is the result of that. She continues to work hard and do everything she can to improve her socks and multiply sales. And most importantly, finishing every day with the same words she finished our interview with, “Look what God did today.”