After years of working in the fashion industry, Rupa Wickrama needed a change. In 2009, she drew up a business plan for Saky Sacks, a line of reusable bags that are as stylish as they are environmentally friendly.
When did you start your business?
I started detailing a business plan in early 2009 and launched in March 2010.
When did you know that you could really make a go of this?
I've been confident from the start that Saky Sacks would be a success. Many retailers have purchased our product and been successful with it, so it's great confirmation that we have a great product.
How did you turn your idea/dream into a business plan?
Once I decided to start the business, there was no looking back. Having had experience with budgets and financial plans in the past, preparing the business plan was the easy part.
What inspired you to do this?
I could not find a reusable bag that I would carry. I wanted a multi-purpose bag that was both stylish and functional -- so I designed my own. I felt that in order to make an impact in reducing the amount of single-use plastic or paper bags, I had to give women a bag that was stylish enough that it would become one of their favorite accessories.
What was the biggest obstacle?
Getting retailers to try out our bags -- we had some price resistance at first. But once we got the product in the stores and the sales went through the roof, we started to build a loyal following not only with our retail accounts but many happy customers. My first order was done on consignment, and that boutique ended up repeating the order five times in the first six weeks because the bags sold out so fast!
How long did it take for your business to become profitable?
I expect to break even or show a modest profit in our first year.
What's the hardest part of what you do?
I have no employees, so managing my time effectively while I am wearing so many hats can be challenging.
What's the most fun part of what you do?
The independence and fulfillment I get from being my own boss and creating beautiful products that both my customers and I love.
How have you been using social media to grow your business?
I use Facebook and Twitter, which are great tools for building awareness and brand recognition for our products. I try and keep the content interesting and relevant.
What's the best piece of business advice you ever received?
Follow your passion and you will be successful.
If you had it to do it over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
It is hard to say. At the time I made the decisions, they seemed to be the right thing to do. I do wish I had participated in more trade shows right after we launched. As our business evolves, we are constantly learning about better ways to manage the business and improve our profitability.
What advice would you give to Dreamers who haven't become Doers yet?
Follow your passion, surround yourself with rock stars, and be prepared to take some risks.
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