7 April 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Jessica Kruger is a London-based serial ethical entrepreneur, her business, LUXTRA, creates timeless bags, backpacks & wallets from plant “leathers” made from pineapple, apple & cactus. Prior to Luxtra Jessica founded ETHOS plant-based restaurant in central London.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Sure! I grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to France age 20. I studied and worked around Europe before moving to London in 2013 to start my restaurant, Ethos. I sold my share of Ethos in 2016 and started Luxtra shortly after.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Back in 2016, non-leather fashion options weren’t really a thing. I live and breathe my values (but also love fashion). When I left my restaurant, it didn’t take me long to find my next big passion and to set out trying to do something about it: i.e. to make fashion kinder and more eco-friendly.
How did you achieve awareness?
It’s been a long hard slog and we’re still a long way off where I want to be. Basically, it’s been a sustained effort – always pushing, pushing, pushing. Achieving awareness has also involved a lot of experimentation – trying trade shows, trying Facebook & Instagram ads, trying Google ads, trying local community initiatives…. It’s all a big work in progress.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Luxtra is 100% self-funded, which I’ve made possible from my sale of Ethos and from still working on the side whilst doing Luxtra. Growth therefore has not been on the scale that we often see lauded in the media, but when I look back over the past 4 years sales have grown a lot and I think it’s a trend that will only continue into the future. I’m optimistic.
What are the key successes?
Becoming a B Corp was a really proud moment. Whilst Luxtra is super small, seeing triple digit year on year growth is a really nice feeling. And … not giving up! I’ve had a few times over the past years that have been very difficult and I felt like quitting. Instead, I took time out and came back once I felt more refreshed and positive.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Manufacturing is hard. There are often times that prototypes will come back from Italy and I’ll want to cry. These days, I allow myself to feel disappointed but having gone through it so many times, I know that one prototype is not the be all and end all. I leave it a few days and come back when I feel refreshed and more positive.
What are your plans now/for the future?
More of the same really – there are still so many people who have never heard of plant-based leathers! I want to make the products even better, and hopefully expand into new categories. Oh – and to become profitable by the end of 2021! That’s one of my top goals.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
My top tip is to…. start! It’s so easy to think of all the obstacles and there will always be naysayers. “Starting” doesn’t just have to be at the very beginning of the business either. I have pep talks with myself on a weekly basis when I encounter a new challenge. Starting to tackle the challenge is often half the battle.
Can you share you top 5-10 tips for entrepreneurial success?
Love your P&L. Get really comfortable with numbers and how your business is doing financially. It will make or break you.
Trust your gut. It’s always, always right, even if what it’s telling you to do is hard.
A smile goes a long way. Seriously. Opens more doors than being aggressive.
Benefit of the doubt. I’ve often been wrong when I thought I was 100% right.
Dedicate your life to something. It will give you so much satisfaction & make the tough times bearable.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most?
I only have one right now:
Caroline Criado Perez – she’s a vocal feminist and activist who is talking about big issues. She has opened my eyes to pervasive gender bias is in society. You MUST read: Invisible Women. https://carolinecriadoperez.com/book/invisible-women/
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
One of my all time favourites is:
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anaïs Nin
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?