I’ve been a fan of Petunia Pickle Bottom’s diaper bags for years and fell in love with them all over again a few years ago when they came out with a line of socks (the only ones that would stay on my newborn). Their headquarters is located in my hometown of Ventura, CA so I made a few calls to set up an interview with DeNai Jones and Korie Conant, the style savvy moms behind the brand, for a tour of their offices and a sneak peak at what’s new from PPB.
With a brick façade and wood framed windows, the Petunia offices feel every bit as stylish as their bags. Enter through the glass doors and the open office floor plan resonates with a casual warmth from the PPB employees. The exposed wooden beams, brick walls and concrete floors create the feel of an urban loft, softened by carefully placed vintage baby décor.
DeNai Jones, founder, owner and creative genius behind the brand’s bags, fabrics and fashions, sits in the design studio, surrounded by color schemes, fabric samples, inspiration boards and product models. Down a short set of wide-paneled wooden steps, Korie Conant, owner, vice president and director of brand development, works in a glass office accessorized with sleek, modern furnishings, Petunia bags, past and present, and an ever-changing glazed-glass marker border of the company’s current and upcoming projects.
I sat down with the two entrepreneurs for a one-on-one chat about the company’s history, hype and hot new products.

MWS: PPB has been around since 2000. How has the company changed since then?

DeNai Jones: Well for starters, we don’t work out of my parents’ garage anymore.
Korie Conant: We did come from humble beginnings. Two hand-me-down desks for us bigwigs and inventory in Rubbermaid bins on the floor. We would spend the first half of our day on the “backend” of the business (design, customer service, sales, marketing and production) and the second half of our day packing orders. We would end our day packing our cars full of boxes and driving over to UPS.
D: A stark contrast to what we are today: 3,000 square foot office with 20 corporate employees, 24 sales reps across the country and worldwide distribution to over 1500 retailers.
K: The day I realized we were no longer a little fledgling company was when a new employee asked us for an “Employee Handbook.” Whaa huh? I remember thinking, yeah; I guess we need one of those!
D: Some things haven’t changed though. One of the things I’m proudest of is our consistent attention to detail that permeates throughout our brand and product line.
K: Also the “family” we have been able to build. We have an amazing work environment and wonderful employees who feel like an extension of our family. We place a high premium on employee satisfaction and I think that shows in the quality of our products as well. We are only as good as the people we have around us.
MWS: What is something most people would be surprised to learn about PPB?
K: That we launched an innovative product for parents and grew a successful business in the children’s industry all well before we had children. Neither of us had children until just two years ago—PPB was our first baby.
MWS: How were you able to know what moms wanted and create diaper bags that met moms’ fashion and function needs?
D: The original idea developed when I was looking for a baby shower gift for a friend and couldn’t find a diaper bag that combined the functionality a mom needs with the beautiful fabrics and shapes available in other women’s bags. Our diaper bags have definitely developed over time but the original idea was merely seeing a hole in the market and taking the risk.
K: When PPB was born there was nothing on the market that married fashion and function. Over time and by listening to our PPB fans, we feel like we offer our customers everything they need in a diaper bag.

D: Now being moms ourselves has also definitely shaped how we look at design, function and style. It’s no longer a theoretical conversation we have as to what’s practical, useful and chic for moms today.

MWS: Have a favorite PPB bag/product?
K: We’ve both been carrying our new Cosmopolitan Carryall and are excited that it finally hits stores this month. The shape is inspired by traditional doctor bags and the European cut velvet available on all our Cake Collection bags give the Carryall a classic, vintage feel.
D: I’m also a huge fan of our organic socks trios. With both of my sons, I’ve also relied on them for staying on tiny newborn feet and standing up to the wiggles and squirms of a crawler.

MWS: How or where do you get inspiration for new bags and fabrics?

D: Inspiration comes from all aspects of life, but first and foremost would have to be travel. It’s high on my list for both relaxation and design inspiration and provides countless instances of beauty and intrigue. I also have a file that we slip wonderful things in all year. It could be the cover of a magazine, the wrapping from a European chocolate bar someone sent us or a piece of vintage wallpaper we picked up from the flea market. Then, when it comes to designing a collection of fabrics or bags we regularly refer to this bulging file to gather inspiration.
MWS: The two of you have known each other since high school. How does being friends influence your work relationship?
D: Our friendship always comes first. I believe it helps us compromise and work through things because we do care and love one another. Though we do have our days…
K: Early on, when people would find out that we were friends going into business together we would get some raised eyebrows. I guess they had heard too many horror stories of friendships gone awry this way, but I can honestly say we did not have reservations. Maybe we were foolish not too, but from day one we decided this: we are friends first, business partners second. We make it a practice to get together on weekly basis and NOT discuss the business. It takes work and a little extra effort to not let work weasel its way into our time together…but it’s worth it. What could be better than designing beautiful things with a lifelong friend?
MWS: Can you give us any sneak peaks at what’s new at PPB?
K: Our Serenity and Sojourn Slings are hitting stores soon and our design team is in the process of creating a collection of stunning fabrics for our fall release. Keep an eye on our webpage or subscribe to our blog for all the latest Petunia news, sightings and giveaways.
Look for the new Cosmopolitan Carryall in stores now and PPB’s new cotton and brocade slings arriving in late spring. Check out all of Petunia Pickle Bottom’s bags and accessories on their website – www.petunia.com

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