Here for the ride
"I want to feel as though I’m doing something worthwhile. I love seeing my ideas through and watching something grow from nothing. Owning a business feels like putting my money where my mouth is."
It was the combination of a product design background, a creative problem-solving attitude and her proximity to the cycling community that first led Jacqui Ma to come up with the idea for her business, Goodordering. “I live over a bike shop in East London and I’m a bike commuter myself,” explains Jacqui. “I saw the gap in the market for multi-functional bike bags that could be fun, colourful and unisex.”
Jacqui couldn’t resist the challenge, so she put her product design skills to work and came up with some designs, partially influenced by her work at the time as a trend forecaster for WGSN. But this was quite different to the projects from her earlier design career: “I’d be designing airline interiors or biometric scanners that would take years to come to life—if at all.” By contrast, Jacqui thrived on the immediacy of her new side project. “You could literally sit at the factory and sketch something up and the next day see it, use it, test it, revise it.”
Learning from challenges
Her first range of bags launched in 2012 after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Three years later, Jacqui resigned from WGSN to focus on Goodordering full time. Manufacturing shifted to China, where Jacqui made a point of working closely with the factory to ensure that quality and ethical standards were met. Dealing with overseas factories, differing business cultures and “unscrupulous middle men” were especially challenging but Jacqui views it all as part of a learning curve. She meets more everyday issues such as faulty parts as well as the age-old entrepreneurial bugbear of getting paid with her refreshingly pragmatic approach. “In some cases, the stock is just written off and the decision made not to work with them again, in other cases we try to reach some kind of an agreement or payback plan. One customer was hopeless at paying so in the end I gave up pestering them because it was too tiring and negative. Then one day when I was visiting their store, they introduced me to someone who became a very important person for my business. I believe in good business karma!”
Support for women
Continual improvement is Jacqui’s mantra, both in life and in business. She takes joy in seeing something grow from nothing and especially relishes the empowerment that being her own boss brings. And while she admits to being “a bit of a workaholic”, Jacqui sees having her own business as the ultimate reward for working as hard as she does. As a working mother, supporting other entrepreneurs who are also juggling the challenges of business with parenthood is important to her. “I recently ran an event called House Work,” Jacqui explains. “It was a series of talks by female business people set in the comfort of my own home, so guests were free to bring their children.”
Spreading the word
As well as connecting with other female entrepreneurs, Jacqui has worked hard at building business relationships, both in person and online. “Connections are everything. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram give my customers a direct line to me 24 hours a day and I respond to lots of messages and enquiries that way.”
Social media is also giving Jacqui the perfect platform to grow her brand from internationally. Her Instagram product images have attracted the attention of not just customers but with retailers globally. “Right now we have a brand new distributor in Canada, who could be game changing for the brand. When I asked how he found Goodordering, he immediately answered ‘Instagram’”.
Learn more about Jacqui Ma and Goodordering: