Here’s why retail investors should invest in this unique purse solution
Nichole MacDonald was standing in Legoland rummaging around her purse when she got the idea for a hand bag that actually made sense.
The single mom of two was tired of purses that just weren’t designed with usability in mind, and she quickly got to work creating a bag that would suit her needs while still looking stylish.
Her lightbulb moment in Legoland would eventually become Sash, a company that MacDonald now runs that is committed to designing and producing functional purses.
MacDonald founded Sash in 2012 and says she’s now ready to take the company to the next level and wants to seek more investors. She took some time to talk with startupWire about her company and what it’s been like trying to grow a business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Designing a purse to solve all your problems
Sash bags are made to evenly distribute weight throughout the bag, so it’s more comfortable to carry, and also easy to quickly access whatever you need. With weight more evenly distributed, a person’s posture improves and they feel more comfortable moving around with their bag.
Sash bags have multiple pockets that can keep your valuables secure and easy to reach. There’s less time rummaging around your ‘black hole’ purse to find your keys or cell phone because Sash bags are designed to keep those items organized.
MacDonald didn’t waste any time bringing her idea to life. A day after getting the idea, she enlisted a friend to help her create the first Sash bag. She took her new purse out with her that night and people quickly began stopping to ask her about it.
“That’s when I knew this wasn’t just an idea for myself,” MacDonald said. “This was something that was interesting that people were curious about.”
Sash bags head to the farmer’s market
MacDonald learned from a past negative experience that she should take her new business venture a little slow. She used her marketing and product design experience to start tinkering away at her idea and producing bags at a very small scale over the course of two years.
As the design for Sash bags evolved, MacDonald felt more and more confident to formally start her company. She launched Sash in the fall of 2012.
At that point, MacDonald already had about $20,000 in sales. She secured a business investor, and UGG founder, to help take the next step with her company. She and her investor spent the next year creating a scalable manufacturing plan that would make it possible to eventually produce Sash bags on a larger scale.
Then she needed a good marketing strategy.
“Ultimately, someone said to us, ‘Why don’t you go to the farmer’s market and just sell the product there?’ And I thought that was craziest idea. I mean, who is going to buy a hundred dollar purse at a farmer’s market?” MacDonald said.
It turned out that the crazy idea worked.
“The very first market I went to, I sold 30 bags,” MacDonald said.
After that Sash was a popular fixture at local farmer’s markets and sales hovered around $350,000 in 2014 and 2015, MacDonald said.
Past business challenges offered valuable insight for Sash
MacDonald is a creative person and skilled marketer, which made it easy for her to create great designs and messaging around her products. But that ‘fake it till you make it mantra’ only got her so far.
“I wasn’t making money and it was kind of phony,” she said.
With Sash, she knew she should take her time to develop a great product and focus less on making everything appear perfect. She decided to embrace her vulnerability and authenticity as a new business owner, which has paid off well for her and the brand.
“My community knows that I don’t always know what I’m doing and when I don’t, I say so and I ask for support, and that has made all the difference,” MacDonald said. “With my first business, I had way too much ego for that.”
Sash’s impressive growth stymied by COVID-19
As of May 2021, Sash had recorded an impressive $14 million in revenue.
“When you stop and look back and take stock of where this has gone and what this has created, it’s pretty special,” MacDonald said.
However, the global coronavirus pandemic for the last year presented an unforeseen challenge to MacDonald’s business.
Her production factory in India shut down multiple times during the pandemic, halting production. As a result, sales slowed down and sales dropped by $1.2 million in 2020.
“You can’t sell what you don’t have,” MacDonald said.
When it was clear that the pandemic could affect her company on a larger scale, MacDonald slowed down and thought of ways to restructure the business to be able to withstand future supply chain changes.
Should you invest in Sash?
Sash already has a warm and loyal community of follows who refer to themselves as ‘Sash sisters’ and ‘Sash misters.’ People keep coming back to Sash because the bags are comfortable to carry and make it easy to be on-the-go while keeping valuables secure.
“We really saw an opportunity to turn our community into shareholders,” MacDonald said. “We would not be around if it wasn’t for our community.”
Thanks to that solid community, recent fundraising efforts, and MacDonald’s new business strategy, the business has been able to begin rolling production in 2021 for the first time so new shipments of bags come in regularly each month.
The minimum amount to become an investor in Sash is $100, which is less than the cost of one Sash bag.
MacDonald says she’ll use investor dollars to support the rolling production schedule and hire a chief operating officer.
MacDonald’s goal is to grow the company by 30% in the next two years, create duplicatable business systems, get into the retail space, and eventually turn the reigns over to a major brand that has the ability to turn Sash into a global product.
Investing in a startup ultimately depends on what makes the most sense to you. You can read more about Angel investing, and whether or not it’s right for you, in this blog post.
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