Joanne Jonah Domeniconi was honored at Salem State (Courtesy photo)
Lifestyle, News

Joanne Jonah Domeniconi, co-founder of Grommet, honored by Salem State last week

Joanne Jonah Domeniconi is a leader, a mother of three, and the co-founder of a million dollar business. She credits her success to her upbringing in Lynn.

Last week, she shared her story with a packed room at the 13th Annual Million Dollar Women Symposium as the keynote speaker. The co-founder and chief discovery officer of The Grommet, a website that connects innovate makers and consumers seeking unique products, discussed her work-life balance, the kind of company she is trying to build, and her roots on the North Shore.

"One part of my story that is really special is that I am a woman from Lynn and I learned some of the most formative business lessons at a neighborhood pharmacy on Chestnut Street that was owned by my family," she said. "My father was the person who taught me all about running a business and taking care of customers, with a laser focus on them and the quality of service you provide them. It's something that is emblazoned on my frontal lobe and I believe it's something a lot of businesses tend to forget."

Her family's business, Berridge Pharmacy, is no longer there. Her mother, Annmarie Jonah, is also an entrepreneur. Domeniconi said Jonah currently runs and operates Jonah Realtors, which is one of the only independent real estate firms in the city.

The Grommet co-founder attended St. Pius Elementary School, Pickering Middle School and Lynn English High School. She was a resident of Lynn until she started her higher educational career at Simmons College in Boston.

In 2008, at 47 years old, Domeniconi started the website with her business partner Jules Pieri. But her career hit the ground running beforehand, she said.

She spent 20 years at Stride Rite Corporation, where she held various retail merchandising and buying product development roles. Then, she served as vice president of product development for Keds footwear.

"I wanted to do something new and I saw an opportunity to transform retail and the way innovative products get discovered," she said. "Along with my business partner, Jules, I had a vision for something fresh and disruptive and we went for it."

The website's business model is unique, she said. They use email and social marketing campaigns to unveil never-before-seen products while amplifying a platform for small business makers and independent innovators. Products on the site include gifts, consumer tech, housewares, hardware, toy, pet, beauty, fitness, outdoor, and apparel.

Given the very close calls that the site had in its first four years, Domeniconi never thought it would be as successful as it is today. She and her team always knew what they were working on had the potential to be powerful, but they needed the customers and they needed capital, she said.

The company's success only grew, and so did hers. In 2014, she was invited to the White House to be recognized for the website's impact on the "maker movement," which refers to the resurgence of artisan craftwork in the culture. Less than a year later, she co-authored an e-book, “Makers Who Made It,” which told the story of 100 successful maker businesses.

Aside from sharing her own story, Domeniconi used her keynote address at the symposium to encourage the women seated in front of her to help each other. She said women wear a lot of different hats, being leaders, employers, mothers, partners, and customers, and each of those require a demand. Women need to embrace the fact they are the people that bind things together, she said.

"It's nice to be able to inspire other women just by telling your own story," she said. "I think it is hard to grow a successful business, whether you're a woman or man, but it's especially hard as a woman. We need to lift each other up, help find inspiration, and we need to create and innovate."

More Stories From Lynn