Project Lilo | Joana Ballesteros-Gube
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Joana Ballesteros-Gube


Joana falls under a very special category of women who create, cultivate and hustle hard while seamlessly nurturing everyone and everything around her. She is the inspiring boss lady who designs and runs accessories brand Heyjow— creating multiple collections a year, at the same time managing to churn out exclusive collections for Philippine design icons such as Rajo Laurel and Aranaz as well as online retailer Seek The Uniq. While she is Business Lady Goals  to everyone else, Sheila, Lucien and I fondly call her our dear Madame—poised and polished on the outside but a great big softy on the inside. We’ve known each other for quite some time. What started out as business collaborators for L’Indochine very quickly escalated into a lifelong friendship. In all those years that we’ve been friends, this is what holds true time and time again–Joana puts the same level of thought and intention in everything that she does whether it be running her business, strengthening her marriage or raising her children. She is thoughtful, kind, and generous and sees the potential in others. While she is human just like everyone else with off days and problems, she deals with her struggles in true Madame form— with  grace, humour and a fresh perspective, never forgetting to look at the brighter side of things. Read on as we talk about life’s defining moments, marriage first and embracing one’s mistakes.


1. What was your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant?
It was Jan 4, 2016 when I found out I was pregnant with Isaiah. Wow, what a way to start the year, right? Needless to say we were surprised but also very very excited!  We’ve been wanting to get pregnant for awhile so it was really a blessing! That year went by so fast. Right when I was gaining my momentum and getting back to the groove of things, I found out I was pregnant with Lily. Isaiah was just 13 months old.
It was life changing day that had so many different emotions attached to it. I can’t quite explain it up to now, all I know is that it worked out for the best and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I had very complicated pregnancies. Both of my children were born premies. I hope this doesn’t sound cliché but being pregnant truly proved to be one of the most defining  journeys of my life to-date. I don’t think I’ve fought so hard nor was anything as priceless as holding my babies in my arms.
2. What is the hardest thing about being a mom?
When you’re a mom, it’s easy to put the needs of your children before your own. Mommy guilt is real. Its funny that while I’m with them most of the time plus the fact that I work from home, I feel guilty whenever I find myself busy working on Heyjow or when I carve out some “me” time.
However, I constantly remind myself that I NEED to make time for myself. My children will benefit from seeing me doing what I love and  hustling hard to build  something I am truly proud of.
3. Best thing about being a mom?
The best thing about being a mom is realizing that no matter how much you doubt yourself or how bad your day is, there are little humans waiting for you at home ready to give you all the love you’ll need to make your worries go away.
Having multiple children also gives you multiple perspectives in life. Isaiah and Lily have different personalities. They surprise us everyday with their daily antics. I love seeing them grow, change and learn new things.
4. How did your marriage change once you had children?
We don’t travel as much as we did before. Everything now has to be well-planned and coordinated. We always make sure that we consider the kids before deciding on something.
5. Best marriage advice you’ve received.
To put your marriage first. I’m so grateful to my husband for always making me feel loved and appreciated.
Also, strive to be each other’s bestfriend.
Jacob and I are opposite in many ways. We see our differences as a strength and use it to complement each other. Jacob is my no. 1 fan! He always encourages me with all of my endeavours.
6. What lessons have your children taught you?
My kids taught me to be resilient and strong even before they were born.
There’s a quote that says “See the world through the eyes of a child” and its been resonating with me more now that I’m always with them. They help me appreciate everything around me. The ordinary becomes extraordinary– that mindset inspires me to be grateful and see the beauty in everyday.
7. What advice would you give your younger self?
One day, you’ll find your balance. Just be patient.  Enjoy your youth. It’s okay to commit mistakes, embrace them and learn from them. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. Trust me, you’ll go places!
Photographed by: Sheila Catilo
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