Marianna Sachse, founder of Jackalo, designs eco-friendly clothing for active kids that’s better for people and the planet.
While shopping for clothes for her children, Marianna noticed a problem. She wanted the clothes to be eco-friendly but strong enough to survive daily activity. It became clear that the piles of clothing waste would not only cause environmental damage, but would also cost parents time and money unnecessarily. After researching a possible solution in depth, Marianna founded Jackalo. This brand is at the forefront of environmental sustainability by maximizing the use of sustainable materials to produce comfortable and long-lasting clothing.
We asked Marianna about the story behind founding Jackalo, the #1 thing she wishes she’d known before starting her business, and how she’s grown since embarking on her entrepreneurial journey.
Q: Tell us the story of how your business was founded. How and why did you start working on Jackalo?
A: I started Jackalo after years of frustration with clothes that didn’t hold up to my active son. He wanted comfort; I wanted durability and durability. I couldn’t find anything that ticked all three boxes. When my son was six years old and I was seven months pregnant with our second child with barely an inheritance in sight, my husband had the opportunity to move our family to the Netherlands for a new job in industry. solar. I used this transition to go deeper into solving the problem faced by families like mine by starting a company that makes durable, comfortable, and long-lasting clothes and then buys them back when they outgrow them. We launched simultaneously in the United States and the Netherlands and became the first circular children’s clothing brand in both countries.
Q: Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
A: I’ve always been an idea-driven, problem-solving person. For years, I have used these skills to work on issues related to health and the environment. But I felt more fulfilled in the creative space. I’m a third generation home seamstress, and I’ve been taught that you can figure out how to create anything you want to see beautiful in the world. I’ve always had creative hustle, but in my very academic family, an impressive resume was valued more than creative endeavors.
It wasn’t until my mom was dying that she and I had really honest conversations about what I wanted for myself. Creative work was at the heart of it. She helped me realize that my family would always love and support me, even though my career path was not traditional.
Q: What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your business?
A: Starting a business without a partner is a lonely process. Isolation and responsibility have been some of the hardest times in my entrepreneurial journey. In these times of loneliness, I realized that even if you work alone, your community is what you make of it. I built and found the community I needed over a period of years. Before the pandemic, I created an in-person mastermind group, which made me feel less alone and helped me appreciate the skills and experiences I had already gained during my short time in as an entrepreneur. After the pandemic hit and my family returned to the United States, I joined a group of online entrepreneurs who have since become my biggest supporter and champions. It is essential to find and create a community, whether within your company or outside.
Q: We dare you to brag. What accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: I am very proud of Jackalo’s growth as a company and our enduring commitment to core values. We experienced consistent year-over-year growth and more than doubled our January sales from the previous year. But more than sales growth, I’m proud of how we’ve managed to grow in a way that remains consistent with company values, putting sustainability and fair labor first, while meeting the needs of our customers.
Q: What resources or people have contributed the most to your success?
A: My family’s support has been a big part of my success. I hear very often about entrepreneurs who struggle with family support, and that is a vision or motivation killer for so many people. My husband, kids, and extended family all believe in what I do and support me. Additionally, the online communities I have joined have been essential. Dreamers & Doers and The Social Sales Girls have been the most important in helping me connect with and learn from other entrepreneurs. Last, but not least, it’s so important to connect with free resources that really add value. I meet with a DCSBDC coach every week, and he helps me stay on track.
Q: How do you celebrate successes along the way?
A: I mostly celebrate successes in small ways: high fives with my family, a bragging moment with friends, and often a little self-care to keep me going. Rest and recovery are so important for everyone, but especially for an entrepreneur who can easily let work bleed into all facets of life. In part, I celebrate my professional accomplishments by not working. As the saying goes: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Q: How have you evolved as a leader since the creation of your company? What experiences have contributed to this growth?
A: Due to my previous professional experience, I have learned to sort decision making in terms of levels of importance. My time in direct service and crisis intervention has helped me see that the concept of “emergency” is relative. Safety, health and family always come first. This is what I look at with all those with whom I am a partner: how do they protect and serve their employees themselves, or for subcontractors?
I lead with kindness and always try to make the people I work with feel valued. My business cannot grow with me alone, and I depend on my partners, their skills and strengths, to drive the business forward. They need to know it and feel it to feel as attached to my vision as I do. Recently someone who works with me shared that I was the best manager he ever had. It really meant a lot to me.
Q: How would you describe your journey in a few sentences?
A: Given that I spent much of my early days in entrepreneurship traveling, I would say that starting a business is like being in a new city. You must be willing to listen and learn, to be a sponge to everything you see, to connect, and to rely on others at times. Sometimes it sounds exciting. Other times it can be scary and exhausting. But know that this experience will always result in growth and that you are a better person to put yourself in a position to grow. And just like going somewhere new, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Q: What’s next for you and Jackalo?
A: As Jackalo grows, my goal is to grow our circularity program. We are already accepting all outdated Jackalo items, regardless of condition, for renewal and resale. But I plan to take the next step and recycle fibers from clothing that cannot be resold and use them in future production runs, to be a true closed-loop system. We are also beginning to seek the investments we need to grow our business, so Jackalo can expand its reach and have an even greater impact. I would love to see kids all over the world wearing Jackalo!
Marianna is a member of dreamers and doersa private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more on dreamers and doers and subscribe to their monthly The summary for the best entrepreneurial and professional resources.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.