In Conversation with Jacqueline Shaw of Wax + Wraps
Describe your business in a few words?
Wax + Wraps is an African Print Subscription Box helping sewists and crafters take back control and own their wardrobes.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
A love for African textiles, African culture and a sense of autonomy in my work.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
This is one of two businesses as I have also been running a sourcing consultancy and coaching business – Africa Fashion Guide for small businesses and fashion brands who want to source manufacturing in Africa. Before all this I was a fashion designer for high street stores and fashion sports brands like Puma, Fila, Russell Athletic and Animal for nearly 20 years.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I feel it was always within me. I was always creative making things and since college I would sell my skill by sewing for others and ultimately started a bridal business making bespoke bridal wear for clients.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
For Wax+Wraps because I had business experience behind me by then, I chose to use a pre launch strategy organically and then with ads. I seeded the idea of this new box for sewers who loved African prints and started to sell the concept in. I got pre-subscribers on board before launch and this enabled me to purchase resources for the boxes before opening up. I gave pre-subscribers a discount off their first box too.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
The most challenging time has been getting orders for clients during the pandemic. One has taken over a year to complete due to the impact of Covid19 on the factory staff and their family. No work could be done, borders closed, factory opened and closed meaning the clients work could not be done. Trying to manage the order during a situation I personally have never encountered has taught me that in life we truly do have to learn to pivot and to take things on board as they come at times.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I see my accomplishment being every time I have connected a designer/brand/client to a supplier in Africa and provided them with work. Or when my customers open my boxes and share how much they love our prints coming from Africa and I share this back with the suppliers and they get so much joy from the news.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
What does making an impact in Africa mean for you?
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Artisans have not always been able to work and this impacts their livelihoods. With ports closed this means shipment from Africa to the UK to get our fabrics in on time for each month’s boxes can be delayed and this has to be managed by me and my team for customer complaints or queries.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
For Wax+Wraps our African Prints Sewing club will develop to a fully fledged online platform with classes digital patterns and much more!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Power of community and the African resilience.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
To have better organized my image and document files – let’s not get started on emails. Also to hire a web person earlier to teach me what I need to manage web platforms.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
My faith in God, prayer, fasting and trusting in the most high for all my needs. I have not had a job all year yet my bills were paid, debts cleared and business has grown.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe in it yet 2020 I didn’t exercise it well. Usually running fitness and taking breaks in the day is key but i probably overworked in 2020 and now a holiday break is calling me.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I wrote my first book at the age of 13. Typed it up, drew illustrations throughout plus the cover and back pages myself.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
Start with prayer, drink lots of water, get away from the laptop.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
It means autonomy whilst walking out my purpose.