Joanna Goddard, Cup of Joe, Woman Entrepreneur
I had read my share of articles on Cup of Joe over the years. She wrote a great piece on Claire Mazur, the co-founder of Of A Kind. I sent Claire a note telling her how much I loved the piece and she said that I should really speak to Joanna. I was happy to be connected. Joanna had started writing Cup of Joe about 7 years ago as a side project. It has evolved into a content platform that resonates with many and in turn has given Joanna the opportunity to turn this into her own media company.
Joanna was born in Paris. The family then moved to England and then to Michigan. Her parents are English and had met at William and Mary College in Virginia. Their friend happened to mention one day that Chrysler was looking to hire people in management jobs. Joanna’s Mom pushed her Dad to go on the interview and pitch himself. He did and that was the beginning of his career with Chrysler. They settled down in Rochester Hills, Michigan when Joanna was in 2nd grade. Growing up she had zero idea what her father did at Chrysler. Her friends all thought he was a spy with his British accent. Not until she was 30 did she ask and find out he was in sales and marketing.
Her Mom was a stay-at-home Mom until the kids all went to college. Then she went back to college to get her masters in social psychology. Joanna’s parents were divorced when she was in middle school. Later on her Mom ended up falling in love with her professor at Michigan and remarried.
She said she worked when she was 2 seconds old. In middle school she would take fliers around to homes to shovel driveways. She had a babysitting club. Always had a job. Joanna graduated high school and went to University of Michigan where she majored in English. She spent a semester abroad in Florence although she had traveled extensively overseas as a kid. Her freshman summer she worked at a coffeeshop and doing research for professors and odd jobs. Her sophomore summer she worked as an intern in a DC law firm that practiced law around child abuse and neglect. Her next summer (junior summer) she worked at Simon and Schuster and that was the trick.
Joanna graduated from Michigan knowing that she wanted to get to NYC and work in magazines. The first six months after graduation she stayed in Ann Arbor to make as much cash as possible. She had taken the LSAT and scored well and tutoring people was a lucrative business. When she felt cash safe she moved to NYC and took an internship with Cosmopolitan Magazine. She began October 2011 and stuck it out until January when they began to pay her. Then she landed a job within Simon and Schuster working on Stephen King books and reissues of romance novels. On the weekends she continued to work for Kaplan as a tutor to pay the rent.
Joanna was always into magazines. She would get a magazine and rip out all the ads down to its core. Her parents suggested she apply to law school as a financial back-up. She was already tutoring and had done well on the LSAT. She got into Michigan, NYU, Columbia and Berkeley. She went to each school at the admitted student day to check it out. She chose NYU. After day one she knew it was not a fit. Even when she bought her first law books she had a heavy heart. She thought about how hard the first year is and decided she should just give it a shot. When she went home for Thanksgiving she was so unhappy she was wondering “do I really need to go back”?
Early on in law school you get placed for the summer months before it happens,. She had a job at ACLU in Michigan lined up. She committed herself to stick out the summer before quitting law school She had loans but knew that she could continue to tutor through Kaplan where the money piles up quickly.
Joanna cast a wide net and got a few job opportunities at publishing houses. She got one offer from a woman she had done a random project with years ago. The woman ran a small marketing shop. It was a risky move to take the job because the business ebbed and flowed but it seemed like the most exciting opportunity. Her boss was intense and smart. They did custom publications for companies such as KMart and Lane Bryant. Magazines that would be sitting next to the register that were all about that stores content. It was before blogging.
The last project she worked on was the best one. She did a project with an Italian company that did all cookware. Two Italian American men ran it. Her boss was friends with them and one day at a liquor fueled lunch she breached the idea of doing a magazine on Italy for Americans who loved Italy. The cookware company was a cash cow, the two guys were bored and they were totally into the idea. They would focus on travel. The magazine would make money on advertising and would be given out free at high end Italian restaurants. At the same time Joanna was working for free on the side for a magazine called Topic. It was a quarterly magazine that featured food, music and family. The Italian magazine was called Bene. She did everything for it including the name, the logo, the identity and at age 27 was the editor of the magazine. After 5 issues they closed the magazine. It wasn’t making any money. Joanna figured she had learned everything she was going to learn there and after four years it was time to leave.
Joanna was on her own for a few months before taking a job at Glamour. She had already started Cup of Joe on the side as a weekend project. It was her own web experience that got her that job at Glamour. Glamour was the first magazine at Conde Nast to expand into the online world. They launched with a bunch of bloggers and Joanna oversaw the relationships and sex site. For a year she was the only one writing for it.
During this time Cup of Joe was starting to expand. Even when before she landed the job at Glamour, thru her site she got calls from travel, food and other mags to hire her. After two years she realized it was time to just focus on Cup of Joe. She made the leap two years before her first son was born. The posts started out as anything that just interested her. For the first three years she brought on an intern just to deal with the inbound of emails. About a year and a half ago she hired someone full time. It was long overdue. It took awhile to figure out how the hire would fit in. Fast forward she hired someone else 6 months ago. That person specifically works on biz dev, new partnerships, relationships and spearheading the newsletter. The intern just became a full time hire too. There are now four people on the team. Cup of Joe is now a women’s life style site with multiple postings daily.
They are doing quite well. They have grown alongside the reader. The content has changed as Joanna had a family. Where this evolves who knows but the content is great and she is doing what she always loved, magazines but instead of paper it is content on our device. She also gets to work with four other women that love it as much as she does.