“My business fuels my passion and my passion fuels my business.”
– Jala Smith-Huys, Founder & Chief Blanket Boss of Seek & Swoon
Welcome to OnBrand! In this episode, host Sarah Grace McCandless sits down with Jala Smith-Huys, founder and chief blanket boss of Seek & Swoon, to discuss what established companies can learn from emerging brands, how story can be the missing link when it comes to creating connection, and the value of building and growing your brand with passion as your roadmap.
After a two-month overseas sabbatical with her family, Jala felt ready to make a change. Inspired by her trip, Jala wanted her next business venture to capture that same excitement, purpose, and passion she felt during her adventures abroad.
“I’ve always been intrigued by starting businesses — you know? Creating something from scratch … I wanted to do something new and different, I just wasn’t quite sure what it was,” Jala recalls. “I sat down, literally, and made a list of all of the things that I really was passionate about, all of the things I enjoyed, all of the things that I thought I was good at, and I tried to kind of create something from this list.”
Motivated by her own passions instead of a perfectly formed business plan or a clear path toward profit, Jala knew that following her purpose might not make the best business sense on paper; but in the end, if she was passionate enough about what she did, she’d always be able to find a way:
“Even though I knew nothing about textiles, I knew nothing about the industry, I knew nothing about home décor … I started doing some research into designing and creating knit blankets, and I became more and more intrigued by this idea.”
What Jala may have initially lacked in industry know-how, she more than made up for in dedication, drive, and, above all else, the passion to persevere as a brand. She wanted to tell her own unique story through her blanket business, focusing on innovative design, environmental sustainability, and exceptionally well-crafted home goods. “One of the things that I knew I needed to incorporate into this business, if I was going to make it happen, was some sort of story. And it needed to be a story that I connected to, but also a story that consumers could connect to as well. And so, I decided that I was going to design these throws inspired by places that I had traveled,” Jala explains. “That’s kind of how Seek & Swoon came to be.”
Now the blanket boss of her own burgeoning comfort empire, Jala recently retired her successful freelance social media consultancy firm to focus her efforts 100% on Seek & Swoon.
Today, you can find Seek & Swoon throws online at seekandswoon.com, as well as through over 80 retailers and boutiques worldwide. Seek & Swoon focuses on sustainability as well as quality, so all blankets are made of a recycled cotton-poly blend and manufactured in the United States in partnership with a family-owned and -operated knitting mill. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from every Hope Throw sold goes to Breast Cancer Action and OCRA, two organizations that support breast and ovarian cancer research and cures.
Join us and find out how pursuing passion can lead to building an inspiring brand with a unique, memorable story that truly connects with customers in this episode of OnBrand!