Turning your side hustle into your full-time job can be tough, especially if that means you’re trying to start a new company. But sometimes, your day job can actually feed you the information you need to make that side hustle, a full-time hustle. For Jacqui Ma, a UK based product designer and founder of cycling apparel and bag company Goodordering, working in trend forecasting helped her understand exactly what the market needed, which happened to fall in line with something she was already passionate about: cycling culture.
Read on for a Q&A with Jacqui and learn about her vision for these unique cycling bags, how Goodordering distinguishes itself from other bag companies, and some of the initiatives she works towards.
What motivated you to create Goodordering? What objectives did you have in mind in the beginning, and have you stayed true to them over time?
I started Goodordering in 2012 because I had been previously working in trend forecasting and missed designing products. After learning a lot about what the market was looking for — and what it wasn’t looking for — I saw that there was a gap in the market for well-designed cycling bags that were neither too girly or too performance oriented. The objective was to introduce a non-seasonal range of bags that would appeal to the design conscious consumer. The aim was to make cycling accessories more fashionable and therefore encourage more people to ride bicycles, especially in urban areas.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your professional and personal life?
I’m proud that I managed to leave my comfortable full-time job and take the risk to start my own business. Sacrificing that regular source of income for something that has been unknown has been scary but also exciting.
What did you consider when establishing key aspects of the Goodordering brand? How do you strive to stay true to that?
The Goodordering brand is all about having fun whilst being able to stay organised. I wanted to create a brand where well designed products could be owned by everyone through accessible price points. Careful attention to pricing and manufacturing has been necessary to achieve this. Keeping Goodordering a brand for people who appreciate good design is achieved through the ways we communicate with our customers. Every time I design a bag, I have to ensure that there are multiple functionalities built in, and that the item is as useful as possible. You can see this in items like our Bum Bag which is also a bicycle navigation holder or our 3-in-1 magnetic cycling glasses.
What do you imagine is in store for you, professionally, and personally, in the next 10 years? What would you like to accomplish, how would you like to grow?
In the next few years, I want to keep learning as much as I can, both professionally and personally. Being a parent has been more challenging than some of the hardest jobs I’ve had, so being a good parent and not losing my cool is a huge challenge that I’m slowly getting better at. It hasn’t come as naturally to me as designing bags. The next steps for Goodordering will require me to learn a lot more about business, people and technology. I see the world becoming a place where people will consume a lot more tentatively and responsibly, so brands need to respond to that. I would like to expand my team, giving people who may not be able to work normal 9-5 jobs a chance to work flexibly. I really believe that flexible working makes for happier people.
As a woman, what makes you feel most empowered?
As a woman, I feel empowered when I meet positive female role models, either in the business world or in my family. When I meet a woman and think “Wow that woman is amazing,” I feel inspired and empowered to see myself doing the same. Making decisions about my business is also really empowering, whether I’m choosing premises or meeting manufacturers and placing huge orders — I’ve realised as I’ve matured that it’s all just a matter of common sense.
What were some challenges you faced while trying to launch your own company? How did you overcome those challenges?
I’ve gone through many challenges with the business. Once a huge order that was bound for South Korea got turned around and sent back to my factory due to a law that the customer overlooked. I then ended up with 600 kids backpacks to sell that I hadn’t originally ordered. The most stressful challenges for me have revolved around cash flow. To overcome these problems, I’ve had to scale things back, while remaining aware so that I can learn from my own mistakes as much as possible. External challenges are almost easier to deal with because there’s no control over them. I find it hard not to beat myself up over dumb mistakes I’ve made that maybe could have been avoided.
What kind of positive impact do you hope to make on the world?
I hope that Goodordering can encourage people to consume more consciously. We are not there yet with our products, but I am working on making them much more durable. Through well thought-out design, people can use one bag for many purposes — this multi-functionality is what Goodordering products are all about. I also hope to encourage more people to cycle more often. We are a non-judgemental cycling company so even if you can increase your cycling by an extra 5 minutes per day, we will be there cheering you on!
What sorts of campaigns and missions do you support?
With Goodordering, we support Sustrans which is a cycling non-for profit organisation that campaigns and raises money to improve cycling safety around the UK. We are also a sponsor of the Big Pedal which is an initiative to get more kids to ride their bikes to school. It has been proven that children who ride or walk to school have a better capacity to learn. From 2018 onwards, all of our bags will be made from recycled water bottles. I personally am trying to reduce my plastic usage. I believe the biggest impact that we can have starts at the home, by educating our children.
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