Most of you have probably heard about enterprises being started on a shoestring. Well, started on a shoebox. In a shoebox to be more accurate.

It all began as it should have—as fun. Picture a couple of friends chillin’ in the loft on a couple of easy chairs, assaying the nature of reality (“mostly unexplainable”), the memes of the day (“mostly inexplicable”), and even some stuff that was actually important. The discussion wasn’t homogeneous, mind you. At times we were serious. At times we were silly. Throughout, we entertained each other better than, say, television would have. That’s not meant to imply there isn’t good TV; we were just better for that particular time slot and demographic.

As the evening sped by, we were wonderfully amazed at how in sync our minds were. We agreed the world could use more smiles. We agreed the world could use more emphasis on sustainability. We agreed the world liked to wear t-shirts. In between, there were a lot of quips, re-quips and re-re-quips, each improved iteration closer to the nail’s head. One of us remarked, somewhat incredulously as we both recall, that we needed to start writing down the best of this repartee (“Ha, ha, get it? ReparTee?”), and—ipso presto—the concept of NJoy materialized.

Let’s provide people with a smile they can wear and share. Let’s use sustainable fabrics: hemp, hemp blends, organically grown cotton, and (soon) bamboo. Let’s prove that responsible eco-preneurs can succeed. Let’s do all of this by showing that two minds, one female and one male, can womanage the entire enterprise better than one. And there we were. And here we are.

Oh, the shoebox? Simple. We needed a place to collect all of the paper scraps, yellow stickies, backs of envelopes, and, yes, t.p. shards that we scrounged to memorialize our ideas. After all, one shouldn’t trust one’s digital devices completely. As fate would have it that evening, on the floor of the nearest closet sat a pair of still-waiting-to-be-used Merrell day-hikers, size 9.5, in a sturdy shoebox that was perfect for the thought-confetti we’d be generating. So, and lo, we were in business.