In this interview, we find out more about Christina Close (Co-Founder of Love Jacaranda), her business journey and why she believes South Africa should support small business.
Love Jacaranda is the manifestation of two best friends who are passionate about beautiful things made in South Africa. We launched the Love Jacaranda online store in 2019 to showcase beautifully made blankets and throws that are entirely made in South Africa.
Why did you start your business?
My best friend Natalie and I had for some time talked about starting an online business to create some extra income alongside our salaries. As moms, we dreamed of the day we could be at home with our kids whilst still earning an income. We were both elbows deep in our careers but were keen to try set up an online business. We also wanted to sell something that was made in South Africa. It has always been important for us to support local industry.
We decided to focus on locally made blankets and throws that my family’s factory produces, which were typically not marketed to the upper LSM in SA, and certainly not online. We felt this was a lucrative niche to focus on.
What do you love the most about running your business?
I really enjoy the independence and agency to make a decision and action it – and with that, reap the consequences. There is a real time tangibility to experiencing the fruits of one’s efforts. It is particularly rewarding when things are going well. Secondly, I really enjoy interacting with customers and get a real thrill when they experience our products and the feeling of delight when they hear our things are made in South Africa. It’s been wonderful to see how proud South Africans are to support local industry. And finally, I love the freedom to manage my time as it suits me. I am a mom, so this business gives me the flexibility to be a 24/7 business to my customers but have plenty of time to fetch my kids, take them to their extra murals etc.
What is one of the biggest lessons you have learnt on your business journey?
We started Love Jacaranda as a “side hustle” while Natalie and I were deep into our corporate careers. For the first 2 years, we were not dependent on the business to employ us full time and therefore could grow slowly and learn on the go. After I left my corporate job at the end of 2021, to focus on the business full time, I was entirely dependent on it to provide an income. It certainly focused the mind! It’s probably the best “business school” one could attend. I make decisions slightly differently now that I need to make sure that we make sufficient revenue each month and optimise how much capital is tied up in stock. An essential aspect of being an online business, is being able to generate enough traffic (the right traffic) to our site and then converting them. To get this right has been the crux of our online business.
What is your why? Why do you do what you do and what do you focus on to help you persevere and get through tough times?
Primarily, this business has been a means to be independent. I have had a long and successful career in management consulting in the corporate world. Whilst I loved the last 20 years, I have really needed a change of pace. We started Love Jacaranda as a side hustle with the intent to be able to be active moms. I think the thought of having to go back to 40-60 hour weeks keeps me going.
The other major basis of our business is that we are supporting local industry. We are hugely motivated to do our bit by contributing to the local economy. We are extremely proud of the products that we sell and take much pleasure from the positive feedback from fellow South Africans who are delighted that they are supporting local.
Why should South Africa support small businesses now and beyond?
The long and the short of it is that each small business is creating an income for families at a microlevel. Directly and indirectly, we are able to create employment. Literally every sale made contributes to the ability of the people in that business to provide for their family. And indirectly, these businesses support many other businesses creating a virtuous ecosystem that benefits the people of South Africa.