I recently had the opportunity to meet Sugar Jones while I was at Blogher. Ted Rubin, the former CMO of Elf Cosmetics and now of OpenSky, called me over as I was passing his table and said, “You have to meet Sugar.” What a whirlwind conversation! We would have probably have talked for hours if she hadn’t had to run. So I quickly jumped on the opportunity line up an interview.
So I asked Sugar to tell my about herself. I like to get to know Moms for more than their passion and number of followers or subscribers. And as everyone knows Moms are all about the story. Well be prepared for the story of Sugar Jones. I just had to leave it in her words. I should have captured her in video, but there’s always next time. Right, Sugar?
Meet Sugar Jones.
“I grew up, a poor Mexican child…
Okay, so I have four kids, ages: 22, 19, 8, and 6. I’ve been married twice. First time to a race car driver. Second time to a pilot. I have speed issues, apparently. I’m currently going through a divorce. No plans to marry an astronaut or stunt man at this time.
I’ve been writing stories and journaling since I was six. My first story was called “Jane’s Rainbow” and I named my journal Aussie. All entries started off, Dear Aussie. So much better than Dear Diary. Who the hell is Diary?. There’s a picture of me in a Blue Bird outfit at a portable typewriter. That was my first “laptop” that I carried everywhere. From room to room. In the car. On vacation. My family thought it was weird. They also thought all my reading was weird. I come from a family of a-holes.
I have worked as a waitress, bartender, and wedding coordinator in hotels. It was lots of fun and I made a lot of money, but the best thing was learning about people and their stories. No amount of psych, business, or marketing classes could have taught me more about the human mind and heart than late nights serving drinks or hours of stress with brides and their moms.
Eventually, I got recruited away by a recruiting firm to be a recruiter. I did that for about three years, which is like 20 years in any other industry. My favorite part of the job was talking to business owners about the initial idea that got them started on their road to success. Their stories were always so inspiring and amazing to me.”
So tell me about “Numerology, Sugar Style”
“I am a freak about numbers. I add every number that’s put in front of me. Ex: I add the digits in the total at the check out all the way down to a single digit. If the single digit is a 7, 8, or 9, I get happy. If I get to 13, I leave it there. 13 is my favorite number. Also, whenever I see 513, I get happy. My birthday is May 13. Yes, I’m a narcissist.”
And what did you say about “Over-Noodling”?
I over-noodle everything. Answering these questions has thrown me for a loop. I maybe should have had you just ask me the questions over the phone, but then I’d over-noodle how I might have said something differently, or what I forgot to add in, or does she think I’m a nut job.
I’m picky about the words people use. If someone uses the word “terrific”, I wonder if they mean that they were slightly terrified. If they say “fantastic”, I wonder if there’s a ghost in the story. When I say awesome, I ask myself, were you really in awe, Sugar??
If there is a generic brand of something at the grocery store, I will put boxes side by side and read each and every ingredient. If they match, then I read which one came first, since boxes label things in order of amounts. That’s why once I pick a brand (or non brand) I rarely sway from it, regardless of coupon/deals or pricing.”
You and I met at Blogher. How many what events do you attend over the course of the year?
“I love going to events, not just to meet with brands and see the latest in gadgets, but to hang with my sisters in blogging and my social media pals. My hope is to go to the following:
Blogworld (Vegas Baby!!)
Type A Mom
Any favorite Mom stories?
“Crap… stumped… let me think about this one…”
I was so surprised I left Sugar speechless. I’m sure she will be back to finish this question. Sugar isn’t the type to leave unfinished business.
What inspires Sugar?
“I’ve always had something to say about everything. One day, I was listening to Leo Laporte talk about Podcasting (this was back like 2003 I think, when you had to buy lots of equipment and read lots) and I became intrigued. He also mentioned that you should host it on a “weblog.” I started up a Live page on MSN and called it Spectacles. I wear glasses (when I’m not losing them in New York) and I tend to create spectacles in public. Then I found out about Blogger. I created several blogs, but the one that finally got some traction was called Living – In Theory. I was dealing with my life as a co-dependent and survivor of abuse. At one point in my “recovery”, I realized that I was on the other side and on my way to being happy. So I walked away from that very sacred place and started Sugar in the Raw. That’s where I live on-line these days.
Most of my readers have come from my frank conversations on Twitter. I’ve also been retweeted by some really awesome people. The first to set me free from my life of obscurity was Scott Stratten. To this day, whenever I see him, I scream his name, skip and jump directly at him, and hug him until he bursts. He loves it.”
Hey, Oprah, look out. Sugar has aspirations.
“I’ve been doing video shows and podcasts for the last couple of years simply because Oprah won’t give me my own show on her network, so I figured, why wait for the invitation when I have something to say right NOW. I love video because I can really convey who I am and how I got to my final thought. There are so many emotions that are missed when a story is merely in print. Seeing and hearing the story is so much richer and entertaining. People love that. And as I mentioned, I’m a recovering co-dependent, which means I’m heavy into the people pleasing.”
What’s a typical Sugar-filled day like?
“I wake up about 30 minutes before my alarm goes off, which makes me think I should set my alarm 30 minutes earlier, but then I think, no… I don’t want to be startled to life every day. Before the alarm goes off and while I’m still comfy and cozy under my comforter, I grab my Blackberry and check my tweets. This may be why I’m alone. Anyway… so I check in to see if there are any people I need to respond to and then I just jump into conversations or start some of my own. It’s usually based around the news of the day.
My kids make their own breakfast because my job is to raise them to be independent, so it starts with that. I can’t quite get them to make my coffee yet, but that’s okay… I’ll keep working on that. During the school year, I’m homeschooling them several days a week, so my computer/desk time is split between teaching and reading/blogging/working. Their work is usually done by 2, but by then New York is done, so I’ve had to tweak our school time a bit in order to accommodate the work that I’ve been doing. This year, the kids will start a charter school, going on campus two days a week. I’ll be at a Starbucks across the street using their free wi-fi and sucking down Vanilla Americanos while I work. Eventually, I’ll be rich enough to send them to private school, but for now, this is our choice.
The afternoons are pretty much lazy. Go to the beach (six blocks away), ride bikes, chase squirrels… that sort of thing. After dinner, I’m usually back on the computer catching up with the tweeps, reading, writing, video editing. Then to bed where I fall asleep listening to alien abduction and conspiracy stories on Coast to Coast with George Nori. Again, possibly why I am alone.”
The Sugar perspective on marketing to Moms.
“I hate being talked down to… as if I never did anything before (or after) a kid grew in my uterus. It’s not always a given that a woman is a mom, but a mom is always a woman. Remembering that we are women first is key to earning my business.?
You work with brands like GM. What has been your experience?
“The brands that I work with usually know me before we have any relationship. They know that I can be snarky and opinionated at times. I don’t like to change my voice for a project, but sometimes I feel like I might have to (please see “people pleasing” above), so when a company comes right out and says, “Be yourself,” that means a lot to me.”
Are Moms changing the world?
“It’s a little weird sometimes. My first go around at being a mom, you couldn’t really talk about having kids at work. It showed weakness if you left work to take care of your kids. Now, I get to schedule my work and meetings around the kids and that’s okay because the work I do is directly related to being a mom. I’m glad that the shift has happened. I love being a mom, but I love even more being praised for doing the most thankless job in the world.”
What do you think we can expect from Moms in the future?
“Change the world!! The new feminism isn’t bra burning and kicking men to the curb, thank goodness. It’s about persuading others to a better way of life. Women know how to get a message across in a way that evokes emotion. If you can get to people through their hearts, you can affect change. No billboard can do that.”
And what’s in the future for Sugar Jones?
She’s going to be a grandmother and she’s starting a new webshow.
“Yes, that’s what happens when you start having kids at 18. Anyway, my friend Rachel Ferrucci and I have started recording a new webshow called “The G Spot – a Place for the Modern Grandma.”
And that’s the Sugar Jones story. You can follow her @sugarjones or at sugarjonesblog.com