plane into the mountain and killed
150 people? I was paralyzed except
for my right hand, so I scribbled,
“Yeah, possibly—but I’m not going
to take 150 people with me.”
The middle finger is our
uno;cial signature at Burton.
(A snowboarder did it in one of
our catalogs and it stuck.) When
my wife, Donna, told the company
how sick I was, everyone gathered
for a portrait with middle fingers
up. That photo hung in my hospital room. It was my guiding light.
After seven weeks in the hospital, I was transferred to rehab.
I still had a tracheotomy, and
couldn’t walk. When I was finally
sent home six weeks later, I was
135 pounds, down from 175. I had
a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, an acupuncturist,
and a trainer—all to start talking
and walking again.
Donna became CEO in 2016. I’m
still a product manager. I love it.
I’m back to snowboarding 100
days a year. We get riders together
and go somewhere to test every
product in the line. That keeps me
Donna’s taught me to think
di;erently, for sure. When I first
heard about paternity leave, I
almost fell o; my chair. I didn’t
even get it. I’ve become much
more open-minded. I’m better at
communicating. And my tolerance for bullshit is at an all-time
low. I can see through it. Like,
“Buddy, I’ve stared down death.
I’ve seen worse than your shit.”
The company has a sense of
irreverence, but we’ve always
been fiscally responsible. Being
privately held has been such an
incredible edge. Donna and I own
100 percent of the company. We
don’t have some analyst looking
over our shoulder. If we did, I’d
be fired, for sure. Gone. And I
shouldn’t be gone. I should be
right where I am.
Jessica Honegger had been trying to adopt a Rwandan child. But when the Great
Recession hit, she and her husband suddenly found they couldn’t a;ord the fees.
An idea to raise funds turned into Noonday Collection, a 2015 Inc. 500 winner that
designs jewelry crafted by artisans in Asia, Africa, and South America and sells it at
trunk shows throughout the U.S. —AS TOLD TO CAMERON ALBERT-DEI TCH
I met my husband while working
for an NGO and training to live in
Guatemala. We came back to Texas,
got married, had two kids, and then
we took a trip to Africa. There, I held
a newly orphaned baby whose parents
had died of AIDS. “The most basic
human right is being able to have a
parent,” I thought.
We started the adoption process. We
paid some of the initial fees. We’d been
flipping houses. Then the market
crashed in 2008 and nobody was
buying homes. International adoption
costs $25,000. We had it. We totally
had it. But eventually, we were living
o; that money. I thought, “I need to
Some friends had moved to Uganda
to help the people there with entrepreneurship. They’d asked this talented young couple to make some
jewelry. But they hadn’t thought
about how to sell it, so it sat in storage. “Why don’t you open your home
and sell this stu;?” my friends asked
me. “You can use the money for your
So one night, at home, I sold those
goods, along with my clothes, my
salable. Around 60 women showed up.
They loved the African jewelry. They
were emailing me: “Can you get more
of those necklaces?”
We made about $4,000 that night.
If I could do more at other women’s
homes, I’d be well on my way to
$25,000. I began a relationship with
the artisans, and was able to get product from them really quickly. Then, I
began to ask other women to open up
their homes. For the next several
months, I drove all over Texas. I slept
on couches. If you wanted to open
your home, I’d be there.
We made the money we needed. And
I realized: This started as a fundraiser,
but this was now a business.
In 2011, we traveled to Rwanda to
meet our new 2-year-old son, Jack.
The dirt road leading to the orphanage’s big, blue metal gate was filled
with potholes—our car barely made it.
A nun greeted us. Then, we saw him.
Another nun was holding his hand,
walking up a long stairway to meet us.
I’m crying just thinking about
it. You hope, and you’re so determined, and the adoption process is
insane. It was a long, hard year of not
being sure. But he’s our little miracle.
Definitely a world-changer. If it
weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be running
JESSICA HONEGGER/NOONDAY COLLECTION HOW MY ADOPTED SON GAVE ME MY COMPANY