Jacqui Ma is the embodiment of everything good that comes with running your own independent retail business.
“The best thing about it is flexibility,” she tells Retail Gazette.
“Not only can I be flexible but I can hire the best people because they will want to work flexibly as well.
“I have a team of people that are the best at doing their job but they also have a few other things going on as well.
“It’s the ultimate flexibility for you to be able to experiment with the business model, but it’s a more modern model.”
Originally from Sydney, Australia, Jacqui adds that there are some personal perks that come with running her bike accessories business, Goodordering.
“I don’t have to miss my son’s school events,” she says.
“I can still travel – I’m spending the summer in Australia and I’m going to work from there.”
Goodordering is run out of a flat on top of a bike shop in Hackney, east London.
Jacqui founded it in 2012 while she was still working full time as a market researcher for WGSN, but it wasn’t until 2016 that she left the firm to focus on her passion project – which had grown exponentially by that stage.
Also in 2016, Goodordering evolved into a “clicks-to-bricks” retailer with the opening of its first store in the Gangnam district of Seoul.
That same year, the company was shortlisted for the National Business Awards and won the UK Export Excellence Award in 2016 for best first export.
Having previously designed bags for Puma, Virgin Atlantic, Microsoft and Debenhams, Jacqui felt inspired to establish Goodordering after identifying a gap in the market for colourful, unisex bike bags amid the cycling boom of 2012.
“I knew that I wanted to very much get back into designing stuff after working at WGSN for so long, so I started poking around to see what kind of bags I’d design,” she recalls.
“And living on top of a bike shop, the penny dropped.”
Jacqui concedes there have been some challenges in running an independent retail business, especially when she has to compete with the big guns in terms of customer service.
“Because huge companies like Asos and Amazon can offer free shipping and all that kind of stuff, the customer has become used to a certain level of customer service,” she tells Retail Gazette.
“So I’ve had to figure out how I can still make a profit without feeling pressurised to do what bigger companies can afford it do?”
It seems Jacqui has figured it out – Goodordering’s business model is 50 per cent business-to-business and 50 per cent direct-to-consumer. Of the latter, 70 per cent derives from online sales.
She credits social media, especially Goodordering’s Instagram presence and being featured in Facebook’s recent small business campaign called “Lets get to work”, for helping Goodordering grow to what it is today.
“Not only is that where most of my traffic comes from but also the conversion is quite high, as well,” she says.
“I’d like to think of Goodordering as an online business first, and an offline business second.”