This is a follow up story for JAQET. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 5 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello again! My name is Jacques Flynn and I am the founder and owner of JAQET. We design and manufacture high-end leather goods out of Long Beach, California. I started the company in 2012 after having a hard time finding what I would call the perfect wallet….high quality, slim, and hand-made in the USA.
While we create a few leather goods, our best-sellers are for sure our wallets. In particular, our Flip wallets have been a massive success! Our customers tend to have a high eye for design and craftsmanship often commenting on these key attributes of the brand.
Although I still hold my day job as an automotive designer (VERY hard to give up as this was my dream job as a child) I still run JAQET on the side continuing to sell our wallets all over the world!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
As stated above, my day job takes the majority of my time, but I do continue to run the JAQET website and fulfill orders as they continue to come in.
One of the things I am most proud about with JAQET is all of our return customers and virtually 0% return rate. Seriously, I’ve sold thousands of wallets through our website and have only received about a dozen returns!
Our inventory is a bit low these days and a big next step for me is to ramp up our inventory, or even more exciting, come up with our next product for launch!! This was always the best part of JAQET...finding a solution to some sort of quirky wallet problem.
In the past, some of the best ones have been our Phone wallets, which combined your wallet and phone holder in one beautiful piece, and the Flip wallet, whose design centers around easy to access cash!
One of the things I am most proud about with JAET is all of our return customers and a virtually 0% return rate. Seriously, I’ve sold thousands of wallets through our website and have only received about a dozen returns!
I think this comes from the product (obviously) but also the way that we have branded and told the JAQET story with each item we sell. We take the time to photograph each piece quite extensively and give the best representation we can. We want to avoid all surprises on the customer level!
The biggest thing we need to work on is marketing. It has gone a bit quiet (again, going to blame the day job!) but it’s something we really need to improve on. We still get sales here and there, the company is paying for itself at this point, which is great, but to reach the next step I will have to step up our marketing game!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
One of the biggest lessons learned goes back to the marketing efforts. We were receiving a LOT of repeat customers and word of mouth seemed to be driving the majority of our sales, but after doing ZERO marketing I have seen a decline in sales. It’s obvious, but you’ve really got to make sure you stay on people’s radar!
The good news is that the brand is still strong and hasn’t gotten diluted by desperate marketing or showing up in stores and on websites that it shouldn't. I have managed to keep it VERY controlled which for me is important for brand value and strength.
The last thing I want to do is sell out where the quality and craftsmanship, as well as brand integrity, is lost. There are plenty of crummy-made wallets out there...JAQET is NOT that at all.
My wife also runs her own company called the Candy Coach and it’s been amazing to see her growth over the last year. I’ll tell ya...she is ON IT with the marketing and it surely has made a massive difference. She provides plenty of inspiration on how she runs her business and I’ll be sure to pick her brain come time to revamp our marketing efforts!
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
The plan for the upcoming year is to do some in-depth research and development on what could be our next product. Once an opportunity to do something new and meaningful for the brand, then comes the tricky part of finding the time to really develop the product!! Always fun but also very time-consuming!!
If we can ramp up with another product, or even product line, then the next 5 years will be very interesting! I will most likely stay put designing automobiles...it is a true passion of mine and I do not intend to walk away anytime soon.
The brand vision is the creative and the seed to your business, but it’s the reality of resources that will allow that seed to grow into a successful business model.
However, JAQET is a true expression of myself and what I think a leather goods company should be..or at least should have been when I created the company. In auto, we talk a lot about the vegan option in car interiors. This has me thinking more and more of this type of concept brought to JAQET...could the brand transition to vegan without too much disruption to brand identity and product feel?
We use full-grain leather for our products. A vegan version of this is something I have not yet seen and the characteristics of full grain leather are very important to the final product. Needless to say, this would be a huge challenge but it’s one I feel more and more compelled to take on to support a more ethical future of our planet.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I am not that big a reader to be honest… a few books here and there but most of my inspiration and entertainment comes from music. My music taste is all over the place, one day it’s west coast hip hop the next it’s the latest Tame Impala record.
When I listen to music my mind goes on a fantasy of what JAQET could be and how these lofty goals could be achieved. There is no reason or rhyme to how I get to that place, but listening to music allows me to relax and simply focus on what goals should be established and how to get there!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I think I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again because to me it’s the most important - VISION. Ask yourself what the vision of the company and brand is and then let that vision make all your decisions. That is, filter every decision through your company vision and make sure it supports that vision. If there are things that do not support that vision, drop it.
I think this is the most important thing to get right, especially as you start your business. It gets more and more challenging as you grow and start to be enticed by more exposure, higher sales, etc...but always have a strong hold of the brand vision and let that be your North star.
Once you have a vision established then it comes time for resources. If you have a strong vision and a method to get needed resources (money, people, space, etc) then you have your winner. The brand vision is the creative and the seed to your business, but it’s the reality of resources that will allow that seed to grow into a successful business model.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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