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Women's History Month Spotlight: Meet the Co-Founders of JoyLet

By Luke Fichter

March is Women’s History Month, and all month long we’re highlighting the contributions of women to our community and region. We talked with Alli Cavasino and Natalie Poston, co-founders of JoyLet, a tech startup based in National Landing, about inspiration and identity. Here’s what they said.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

What is JoyLet? 

JoyLet rents gear and toys for babies and toddlers. We believe that parents love renting from JoyLet because they get the flexibility to try different items while saving time, money, space, waste, and stress. We founded the company on a mission to make early parenthood easier and more sustainable. 

What inspired you to create JoyLet?

JoyLet Co-Founder, Alli Cavasino

It was really a culmination of several intersections in my life. A few years ago I was living in a small rural town without a curbside recycling program and no nearby donation centers. Everything I was consuming, whether it was a can of soup or an old shirt, ended up in the trash. I became hyper aware of how much I was consuming and the amount of waste I was producing. This set me on a journey toward minimalism and a zero waste lifestyle.

Then I started working for a construction equipment rental company, had just gotten married, and was starting to think about what a sustainable lifestyle looks like, especially with kids. As I started asking questions and researching, I learned that early parenthood is one of the most hyper consumptive periods of our lives. I thought there had to be a better way to access gear that’s only used for a few months, and wondered, why is there no equipment rental model for baby gear?

Jump ahead a couple years, I started business school at Georgetown, where JoyLet Co-Founder Natalie Poston and I met. At that point everyone in our lives seemed to be having kids and they liked our idea. We knew it was time to start exploring this idea to see if we could make a real business out of it here in the DMV. Fast forward to today, we’ve been welcomed by so many amazing parents and are renting gear and toys all over the area. 

How does your identity influence how you approach your work?

JoyLet Co-Founder, Natalie Poston 

Because we are serving families with young children, we always approach our customer experience with empathy first. While early parenthood is beautiful, we know it can also be an overwhelming and exhausting time of life. We’re here to be a resource for parents that can hopefully make this time a little easier. 

As women, we deeply identify with the moms who make up the majority of our customer base. 

Tell us about a female leader who inspired you or someone who helped you get you to where you are today.  

JoyLet Co-Founder, Alli Cavasino

We’re most inspired by the other female founders that we know personally who are in the trenches alongside us. Their intellect, grit, and determination inspires us to keep pushing forward as we each solve the respective challenges we are tackling. 

Natalie and I love the story of Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins. At only 19 she believed that there should be a more collaborative, more inclusive way to design, because legacy programs take months to learn and are inaccessible to the masses. Like so many great entrepreneurs she identified an inefficient way of doing things that had become the status quo and challenged it. Now Canva is a multi-billion dollar company with millions of monthly users.

We’re inspired by her because we also see inefficiency in our industry. The current way parents access gear and toys is expensive, wasteful, time-consuming, and unsustainable. With JoyLet, we’re on a mission to change that by offering parents the ability to rent.

How do you deal with setbacks?

JoyLet Co-Founder, Natalie Poston 

We approach every problem believing there is a solution. Founding a startup is full of ups and downs, it’s a natural part of the journey. There will always be challenges to overcome in both good times and bad. 

A solutions-oriented attitude is key. When facing a setback, we dig in to deeply understand the problem. We brainstorm, conduct research, and call upon advisors and mentors. Always be willing to pivot and test hypotheses to find the best solution. And remember, there may end up being multiple solutions to address your problem. 

What advice would you give to someone just starting their own business?

JoyLet Co-Founder, Alli Cavasino

Talk about your idea. Many would-be entrepreneurs might be nervous about sharing ideas over fears that someone will steal it. But sharing your ideas can open up so many doors! Anyone can have a good idea, but execution is everything. Our personal and professional networks have been one of the most important catalysts for our business. As we share what we’re building, we get feedback and new ideas that only make our business better and garner introductions that lead to important partnerships. People around you want to support and help you. Lean into that!

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

JoyLet Co-Founder, Natalie Poston 

We’re on a mission to make early parenthood easier and more sustainable. Babies and toddlers need so much stuff – most of which is expensive, only used for a handful of weeks or months, and a pain to store or dispose of. We truly believe gear and toy rental is the future. Just look at our generation, who are today’s parents; Millennials have grown up with the sharing economy and value sustainability in a big way. In the next 5 years, families all over the country will benefit from JoyLet’s services.