091: While at a business bootcamp, came up with a social enterprise idea and in 2017, aged 21, launched the enterprise with just 2 FTE. Now has 4 team members and has impacted the lives of 37,000 women in NZ and counting (Jacinta Gulasekharam)

fte 1-5 heatlh & wellness new zealand podcast sales $0.5m-$1m aud Mar 27, 2021

In this episode, I interview Jacinta Gulasekharam, the Co-Founder of Dignity New Zealand (NZ), a social enterprise with a mission to deliver period equity and has created access to 32,000 sustainable period products. Dignity operates a “Buy one, give one” model for period products where corporate partners provide sanitary items in bathrooms, and Dignity NZ donates the equivalent number of boxes to those without access to them. To date, Dignity has donated more than 29,000 boxes of period products to 130+ schools, youth organizations, and women’s support groups across New Zealand, supporting over 37,000 women.

Jacinta led the Positive Periods campaign which resulted in the government committing to free period products for students in NZ. She’s the Partnership Manager at FlexiTime, supporting their partners and enterprise clients. She’s a First Foundation mentor and lends her experience to grow the startup ecosystem. She’s also an Edmund Hillary Fellow, Women of Influence Young Leader Finalist 2018 and 2020, and Sustainable Business Network Change Maker Finalist 2020.

Jacinta and her Co-Founder launched Dignity in February 2017 when they were just 21 after they came up with the idea for the social enterprise the year before while at a business boot camp. In the beginning, they were the only part-time employees as they worked in other full-time jobs but eventually, they hired two part-time employees. Later on, Jacinta took on the role of general manager full-time for six months and then hired someone else to take on the role. Jacinta believes that the hardest thing in growing a small business is believing in yourself and being the person that has to lead and take charge and that the one thing she would tell herself on day one of starting out in business is, “Believe in yourself and go for it” Join me and Jacinta as we dive into her impactful small business ownership journey.

This Cast Covers:

  • Providing organic period products to women in different workplaces.
  • Attending the business boot camp where she and her co-founder came up with the business idea.
  • From 10 boxes when they were starting out to the 3,000+ boxes they do today with 37,000 people impacted.
  • The joy of hiring people to help with their operations.
  • Being an impact organization and building all their goals on that.
  • How powerful email newsletters are as a marketing tool.
  • Funding the business from their corporate partnerships and selling packages.
  • Hiring a sales coach to help them figure out their target market and build a better sales strategy.
  • From hand-delivering products to Ubering them, to then having a storage unit and a courier company.
  • The success of creating something out of nothing that people buy and use.
  • Getting through the challenge of navigating the effects of the pandemic.
  • Why every small business owner must know and understand their business’s financials.
  • The importance of having regular meetings with the team to talk about the business and each team member personally.
  • Why achieving work-life balance is all about boundaries.
  • Having a board of directors helping with the growth of the business.
  • Being comfortable with being the person to lead and take charge as a small business owner.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

“I really believe in the power of the newsletter” – Jacinta Gulasekharam

“It’s really about the people” – Jacinta Gulasekharam

“You’ve got to know and understand your numbers” – Jacinta Gulasekharam

“Work-life balance is not easy in the early days especially when you’re growing” – Jacinta Gulasekharam

“Balance is actually about boundaries” – Jacinta Gulasekharam

“Professional development is like a business degree in its own sense” – Jacinta Gulasekharam

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/