Sandra Jacquemin of starsoul on creating the first cause-driven charity t-shirt subscription
Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:
Hi everyone! I’m Entreprenista League member Sandra Jacquemin, Co-Founder of starsoul, the first cause-driven charity t-shirt subscription. Starsoul is transforming the way we give by utilizing the subscription model to raise awareness and funding through cause-inspired tees. For 20 years I have worked behind-the-scenes on marketing for some of the world’s best and biggest brands, events, athletes, celebrity talent and industry icons. While I continue my marketing consulting work, starsoul has now been pushed to the forefront. My mission is to help others with their mission.
100% of the proceeds from every single shirt every month goes to charity organizations related to the cause of the month. Starsoul was a dream in my mind years ago and was put into overdrive by receiving a Shopify build from Entreprenista – that was the point of no return. Helping others has always remained a priority to me both personally and professionally. In our age of social media, I felt a strong calling to do more than just create, post and hope for change. While I can’t be everywhere or fix everything, I wanted to do more to support others that are changing the world. And so, the world changer tee was born.
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
Community! We don’t realize what it is to have a community in which we seek collaboration, not competition, especially amongst women.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
While in college, I turned down a marketing agency job to start a business and never looked back. Entrepreneurship is my calling. Thankfully I’ve had the support of my parents all my life, who always taught me: ‘regret what you do, not what you don’t do.’ And so – here I am.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
No, but I knew that I had a leadership quality in me paired with a steadfast desire to do business helping others by way of marketing. I used to walk around neighborhoods with friends at 12 years old offering to paint kids’ faces or sell lemonade. It is just in me.
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?
When we were awarded the Shopify build from Entreprenista, we had our first Zoom call to discuss our plans. The first ask: a launch date. We had worked on everything from our brand colors to packaging design (all done ourselves). The one thing we didn’t have was the launch date. Finally we agreed December 10th, Human Rights Day, was most fitting. Then we all had a big laugh because that was two months away but it was a self-imposed deadline. Time was not on our side and supply had become a challenge during a pandemic. We needed shirts ASAP, photos for the website, models, all of it.
I’ve always sought out to work with small businesses and working moms as much as possible throughout my career and this was no different. I sourced a friend/graphic designer who had been furloughed during the pandemic to finalize our logo and first t-shirt concept. We hired a girlfriend of mine from high school, former Miss Florida turned brilliant photographer, to do our web photos. In place of hiring models, we had amazing support from friends who volunteered to model the shirts. My business partner (also husband) and I bootstrapped the entire project.
The marketing strategy from day one has always been to connect with like-minded people who are as passionate about helping others, making the world better, and are overall positive. Whether it is a parent within their community advocating for children’s health or an influencer who uses their platform for positivity – it’s all about the vibe of changing the world for the better. In the short time since December 2021, we’ve connected with several of those people, and appeared on NBC and have a few upcoming interviews to be released.
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?
Communication. The scope of communicating has changed so much. What used to be an e-mail or phone call, now is a 150-character message via social media. I believe strongly in relationships that win both ways.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Every. Single. Decision. It has made me who I am.
If we look back in time, we can always judge why a decision may have been right or wrong in the moment. Like, why did you eat that extra piece of cake? But what is most important in the present, is knowing that it felt right at the time. Embrace whatever it was that has either taught you something or shown you something about yourself. I reflect on the decision to turn down a job in college and take the unknown route of opening a business. I’m proud of that decision, and while it came with challenges, I grew. And the best accomplishment is growth for me.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Yes. Best tips for work/life balance: give yourself grace. You will make mistakes, you will have to answer a call while life is calling, just make sure to take that time to see what’s happening around you. The sleep you lose now will pay off later.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
My advice to others would be: people are going to judge. So do it anyway.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
This is such a loaded question, but on a personal level…I am OCD at times so learning to let go and let be (as it applies to my messy home) has been tough. But I’ve told myself my son will only be little this once and his Hot Wheels cars all over the place are a sign of his joy. His crayon scribbles on my laptop are a sign of his free creative mind. One day there will be no cars, no scribbles, no laughter in the background and so for the moment, let go and let be and just jump over the toys.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We hope to only grow and increase the number of charities we can support. The more subscribers, the more charity groups we can donate to. And one more thing: Disney is a huge part of my life and my family’s life. It has always been a lifelong dream of my mom’s to take busloads of underprivileged kids to Disney. I told my husband when we started this that it would be a goal for me. To get to a point where we would be able to pack buses and take kids to a world of imagination and share with them the possibilities of dreaming. To me, Walt Disney is a grand example of a dream turned into reality when you dare yourself.