Jessica Alexander’s entrepreneurial career began back in 2010 when she played an integral role in the establishment of the Paintball Wars Company. She then moved on to found her own business, Sa Nou St Lucia, two years later. Since then, this proud mother of four has been busy balancing her duties as a parent with her role as an entrepreneur.
Sa Nou started off as a gift basket business that focused on packaging local products in a creative way, but has grown into a subscription gift box company which “seeks to give customers an easy, eco-friendly way of gift-giving so that they’re able to travel with ease, and customise its contents.” STAR Businessweek sat down with Jessica to discuss her business and passion for promoting and using local products.
How did Sa Nou St Lucia get off the ground?
JESSICA: Sa Nou St Lucia started off back in 2012. I curated a gift basket for a friend of mine who was living in the US. She had asked me to get a number of different items for her, and I decided to put them into a basket and package it.
I took a photo of that, posted it on Blackberry at the time and got a lot of positive feedback and enquiries. It snowballed from there. Fast forward six and a half years and it’s evolved from gift baskets into island boxes. So two years ago I launched Island Boxes, which is a subsidiary of Sa Nou St Lucia.
Why did you make the change?
JESSICA: I wanted to move away from using baskets, as much as I loved it. It was a case of not being able to get the baskets consistently, in terms of the size and quantity. So that’s what sparked me using the boxes as the new way of doing my packaging.
Is the business full-time and have you received any funding?
JESSICA: Yes, it is full-time, and no, I haven’t received any funding — no grants or government assistance.
What products do you typically package?
JESSICA: Locally-produced soaps, oils, scrubs, chocolates, jewellery, candles, lotions, coffee, cards; you name it, as long as it’s local and all natural, I’ll package it. Customers are becoming a lot more aware of the quality and the consistency of our local products. They are actively going that route because there’s been a paradigm shift in our society — more of us are becoming health-conscious and environmentally savvy.
How many boxes have you sold and what is the price range?
JESSICA: Over 75 so far. Each package costs about US $25
Have you broken into the international market?
JESSICA: Yes. I’ve sold packages in Sweden, France, USA, Canada and the UK.
Do you have any employees?
JESSICA: No, but I engage often with other small-business persons.
Do you consider Sa Nou St Lucia more than just a business?
JESSICA: It’s something I live every day, from the moment I get up to the moment I fall asleep. How I eat, what I do, what I use, what I wear, are all things that I promote in my business. About 90-95% of what I use on my skin, on my body, what I eat, is local, so it’s something I actively live. I’m constantly talking about this stuff. I’m like a walking plug for good, healthy, all-natural local products; though, I do enjoy an unhealthy snack here and there.
What role have your children played in inspiring this endeavour?
JESSICA: Obviously they play the hugest role. Not only that, they contribute greatly to me having to be innovative in my approach, especially with Sa Nou St Lucia. I’m trying to figure out the balance. Life is about balance. I try to have as much downtime with them as possible and to make them aware of what I’m doing. It’s a juggling act. It’s not the easiest thing in the world but I think it can inspire others, just like my kids inspire me. Hopefully, when they’re grown they can take over and this can become a family business. I’ll be more than happy to leave that as my legacy.
What advice would you give persons looking to start their own business?
JESSICA: Well, we’re living in an age when social media is obviously the way to go. When I started off, I posted a picture and got that feedback and I’m sure if I had just made my basket and probably not taken any photos, a few people would have said, ‘Okay, that’s nice,’ but I probably wouldn’t have gotten as much feedback. So I think people definitely need to use and employ social media.
If you’d like to package gift items with Sa Nou St Lucia you can reach Jessica at (758) 519-8870 and @sanoustlucia on Instagram.