PEI

Meet Julia Kun, lingerie designer and environmental scientist

An environmental scientist satisfies her creative side with a surprising side hustle as a lingerie designer.

The latest in our series on slash workers: Islanders with unexpected multiple careers

'I’m passionate about my day job and I’m passionate about my business,' says Julia Kun of shoppe juju. (Julia Cook/CBC)

Julia Kun is very passionate about both of her jobs, but also keeps them very separate.

"I mostly, when people ask me what I do, say I do environmental stuff — that's what I went to school for," said Kun. 

"When I'm being introduced by my friends, they mostly talk about my side business, well because they're like, 'That's the cool part about you!'"

During the day, Kun is an environmental scientist for international engineering company Stantec in P.E.I. At night, the Charlottetown native moves into her other job as the owner of shoppe juju, a boutique accessories business. 

She started out sewing eye masks and scrunchies.

"I posted a picture of scrunchies on Facebook and shop owners were like, 'Can you sell these?' and I said, 'I don't know, can you sell them? If you want to, I'll make them.'"

From scientist to lingerie designer

Kun has now switched her focus to bralettes — wireless bras made out of stretch lace. 

'When people ask me what I do, say I do environmental stuff — that’s what I went to school for,' says Kun. (Submitted by Julia Kun)

She sells her products in four shops in P.E.I. and one in Halifax, as well as online and at craft markets.

Kun's side business has become so popular that most people think it's her full-time gig. 

But the cost of her side hustle being so successful is that she's also getting busier and busier.

"I'm really bad at balancing, I think. Why I'm able to do both is because I'm passionate about my day job and I'm passionate about my business," said Kun.

'Left brain, right brain'

Kun keeps her two jobs as environmental scientist and lingerie designer separate from one another — you won't find her sewing a pink bralette on her lunch breaks or discussing her new product line with her co-workers.

Kun says she enjoys her side hustle in part 'because there’s no pressure to do it.' (shoppejuju/Facebook)

And while they do keep her busy and are very different from one another, Kun said they suit different parts of her personality and interests. She said she's always been artistic.

"Having the side business definitely satisfies like the left brain, right brain. Just evens everything out," said Kun.

"I'm not just calculating and using Excel all day — I get to come home and just decompress, make some supper, and get excited about maybe designing a new product or something."

Finding a common thread

Kun spends most of her days as an environmental scientist dealing with project management, and said those organizing skills help her handle the business side of shoppe juju.

Kun's comfy, pretty bralettes in pink, white, red, ecru and black are very popular. (Julia Cook/CBC)

"You can just kind of see the similarities in that when you run a business."

Her everyday job has also helped her develop skills to deal with clients and finances.

While she loves doing both jobs and being a slash worker, Kun wonders if it is sustainable.

"I certainly flip-flop between both sides. Some days I'm like, 'Yes! I'm going to do shoppe juju full time, I'm going to open my own shop, I'm going to start this huge line of lingerie.' But other times ... I think why I enjoy doing shoppe juju because there's no pressure to do it. I don't know if I ever want to take that aspect of it."

In her ideal world, Kun would do both of these jobs forever and would always be a "slash worker." For now, she said she will settle for planning to expand her product line and see where shoppe juju takes her.

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About the Author

Julia Cook

Journalist

Julia Cook reports from CBC's bureau in Gander, primarily for the Central Morning Show.

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