Marianna Sachse

Don’t be afraid of the unconventional path.

Marianna Sachse has spent the last twenty years helping individuals and communities improve their health and well being. She has worked with and for such noted organizations as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Whitman Walker Clinic, the Aspen Institute, and the Federal Reserve Board. A cancer survivor, Marianna has found ways to thrive in adversity. Her own experience demonstrates how living a creative life is central to wellbeing. In an effort to align her personal creative needs and desire to improve the world, she launched the triple bottom line enterprise Jackalo — an industry-changing line of durable and organic children’s clothes that accepts all of the used clothes back to be repaired and resold or responsibly recycled, thus reducing the environmental impact of the children’s apparel sector.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I was always happy to receive hand-me-downs for my kids, but noticed that they petered out as son grew bigger. My son was seriously rough on clothes — he always had holes at the knees that I repaired. While I loved the act of repairing, I hated that clothes weren’t made better and that this was needed so quickly. After years of frustration with the clothing options for my older son, and a total lack of hand-me-downs for his little brother, I founded Jackalo to bring back old-fashioned quality to kids clothing and create a pathway for reuse of high quality garments.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day starts with my husband and I getting the boys ready for school and nursery. I usually bike my younger son to nursery and then try to get a little more movement in — walking the dog, going for a run, or a quick yoga practice. I’m a firm believer that moving your body, even gently, is important to setting the stage for a good, productive day. If I can, I read from a non-fiction book for about twenty minutes while drinking some tea or coffee. I then sit down to write a priorities list for that day — five to ten things to do that will make me feel like I’ve accomplished something substantial for that day. Sometimes these are quick tasks, sometimes they are quite time consuming. I try to turn off the distractions of social media and just focus on banging out the top priority things. Once these are done, I feel ready to move on to any lower priority tasks should there be time.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I like to sit down and focus on the big picture tasks that will bring my idea to fruition, and then drill down from there. I don’t always have a precise timeline in mind, but with broad brush strokes I can figure out the sequence of what needs to be accomplished in order to bring my ideas to life. I then just work my to do lists and check off those boxes until I’ve achieved what I’m aiming to.

Along the way, I always ask myself how we can do this in a more environmentally-friendly way. If we designing products and companies with a continuous focus on sustainability, we’ll lead the way for change that is critical to people and planet. Even small changes have an impact and pave the path for bigger changes along the way.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The rise of the conscious consumer really excites me. Millennials are increasingly aware and conscientious shoppers. As they (we — as I’m on the Millennial cusp) become parents, more people will be asking the tough questions about children’s products that they’ve been asking about the products they consume for themselves. They will demand products that are better for their kids and for the world, and will think more carefully about their purchases.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’m a big lists person. I write everything down, and this really helps me stay organized and keep moving forward.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be afraid of the unconventional path.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Your hobbies are important and worth investing time in. It isn’t “extra”, it is central to cultivating health and creativity in your everyday. By carving out time for creative or physical pursuits, you create space in your brain for thinking about all aspects of life in a new way. Pick up that paintbrush, go for that run — whatever gives you life. It will have ripple effects throughout your life.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I take creative breaks quite frequently. I step away from the computer to make something — sew a garment (even just an early, early sample), draw a picture, make some food. Every creative task is a chance to stretch my brain and organize my thoughts. Even if it isn’t something I’m particularly “good” at, doing something creative helps me feel inspired and challenged in the best ways.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I did a crowdfunding campaign through iFundWomen. Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, they offer coaching and a community of entrepreneurs to help you develop and grow your campaign. I highly recommend working with them to help with early fundraising for your idea.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

With my first production order, we had a significant delay in one of the fabrics we needed. At first I was really disappointed that we’d have at least a four week delay getting the fabric. I worked with the fabric mill to find the needed quantity in stock for one of their own manufacturers and was able to get the fabric sent without the delay.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’d love to see a fulfillment company that specializes in environmentally-friendly packing practices (for example, one that offers an alternative to poly bags for storing and shipping clothing in) and works with startups and small businesses. If you do this already, give me a call.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

We bought a Patagonia jacket for our older son. I love purchasing from brands that I respect and that have a keen sense of how to run a business in a way that’s better for the environment.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I use Later to plan out my social media content. Social media is really important to brand awareness, but it is also a huge time-suck. So I try to plan out my content and have it auto-post. I still go on to the networks to engage with my followers, but this way my time on the platforms is really just focused on engagement.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Playing Big by Tara Mohr. I recommend this book to everyone, but particularly to women. It helps you move beyond whatever fear is holding you back and live to your fullest potential. It is truly life-changing.

What is your favorite quote?

“Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity.”
— Yvon Chouinard

This quote speaks to our effort to repair and reuse Jackalo garments. When you design a product for quality and long-life, you create something that is worth reusing and repairing — both acts of love that imbue a garment with something special.

Key Learnings:

  • Always make time for creative pursuits, even if you aren’t “good” at them. They’ll expand your mind and organize your thinking.
  • As Millennials become parents, we will see the growth of the “Conscious Parent” — parents who think about where their children’s products come from and the impact they have.
  • There’s value in reusing and repairing what you have. It’s an act of love.
  • Always ask how you can do your work in a more environmentally-friendly way. Even small changes have an impact and pave the path for bigger changes along the way.