The Next List: Jill Koziol
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Jill Koziol is the co-founder and CEO of Motherly a modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood with it’s 30M+ monthly audience. She is also the co-author of "This Is Motherhood: A Motherly Collection of Reflections and Practices" as well as "The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama: Redefining the Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum Journey". Jill is passionate about serving and empowering women and mothers because when mamas are successful, everyone wins. She is an advocate for families, female founders, and how to thrive with multiple sclerosis. Jill lives in Menlo Park with her husband and two daughters.
What has your career path been like up to this point?
I began my career in international relief and development and then spent a decade in consulting, leading an organizational agility practice helping large government organizations and Fortune 50 companies evolve. After having my first daughter and moving to California while my husband attended business school, I started my first business. I invented, patented, and brought to market the SwingEase, a baby goods product that converts playground swings to toddler swings. My co-founder and I had it successfully placed in every Babies R Us in the country and licensed the product and brand to an outdoor adventure company. Within a month of exiting that company, Liz and I founded Motherly.
How did you know it was time for a change? Was there a defining moment that sparked you into action?
Timing, like any relationship, is important, and the timing was perfect for me when Liz, my now co-founder, reached out to discuss Motherly. I had just exited my previous company and while I was planning to take a bit of a break, I was already feeling restless, looking for what was next. My first call with Liz was a defining moment in my life. There were undeniable sparks. We built off one another so seamlessly and it was immediately obvious that we had complementary skill sets and were aligned in our passions and ambitions. We joke now that we left that first conversation breathless – I think we both knew we were on to something together.
Where did you find support and inspiration?
Speaking of Liz, I lean on her every day. Having a strong co-founder relationship is such a gift and I cherish it. I also have the most amazing village with my husband serving as my biggest champion and a really strong group of female friends that lift each other up – they inspire me every day as mothers and as professionals. And, my daughters – they inspire me every moment to be the best I can be, to have the most impact I can, and to show them what it means to be a strong, empowered woman.
How did motherhood play a role in your career path?
Mothers are such natural innovators and for me, motherhood really unlocked my creativity. It also increased my confidence – I felt so strong and powerful after becoming a mother. For me, confidence and creativity are essential in taking the leap as an entrepreneur so motherhood has been an unexpected catapult for my career.
What was your biggest challenge in changing direction or starting something new?
I have a really strong bias for action which is often a strength but as Motherly scales I have to remind myself that we don’t always have to operate at a breakneck speed. As CEO it’s my job to be out ahead of the curve leaning into the future but it’s also my job to create a strong culture and ensure our team feels supported and empowered, that they are driving changes with me.
What advice would you give to other women that feel stuck in their current situation?
Like I tell my girls to repeat with me whenever they are facing a challenge or fear, “I am strong. I am brave. I can do anything!” Sometimes we just need a reminder and a personal mantra like this can help increase confidence and courage.
Do you have a favorite quote?
It’s not really a quote but more of a mantra, “it doesn’t get easier, but you do get stronger”. This applies to every aspect of my life from motherhood to Motherly. I really believe that persistence and grit are a huge factor in success and reminding myself that I’m strong and always getting stronger means I’m ready for what’s next.
What are you reading, listening to, who are you following?
I’m reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I’m naturally a bit of an essentialist but it feels more important than ever that I focus on the things that only I can do, that make the biggest impact for our business, so I’m reading this now to reinforce essentialism habits. If I’m not reviewing a new episode of The Motherly Podcast, I’m listening to How I Built This, an inspiring podcast telling the stores of entrepreneurs and amazing businesses. I’m motivated by the stories and the reminder that the entrepreneurial journey isn’t a straight one, but rather often takes us unexpected places.
What’s NEXT for you?
I’ve never gone into a new year as excited as this one. I feel like a lot of hard work is starting to pay off in every aspect of my life. My husband and I celebrate our ten year anniversary this year and it’s such a milestone. I’m so grateful to have him as a life partner. My daughters are school aged now and I’m beginning to see how the lessons of early parenting are exhibiting in each of them. It’s such a joy to see the women they are becoming. And Motherly, wow. We’ve so much planned for this new year with the launch of our new book, The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama to the launch of our new e-commerce platform, and even a new Motherly Collection nursery furniture line! The best is yet to come!
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