SHE Spotlight: Jar Jackets
The writer Lawrence Durrell said, "Our inventions mirror our secret wishes." While that may be true some times, it certainly wasn't true for Sacha Laustsen, founder of JarJackets! Her love of mason jars and plastic-free options wasn't a secret at all!
She absolutely disliked single function plastic bottles and containers and the toxins they leach and loved mason jars and how multi-purpose they are. JarJackets is the result of a passion project to make mason jars portable!
In fact, we stumbled across JarJackets on our own hunt for a plastic-free sustainable way to go get iced lattes or to make them and take them on the road. They are awesome.
Enjoy this interview with Sacha about her journey to creating a simple tool with a major potential impact on the use of plastic and secrets on all things MASON JARS!
SHE Team: We absolutely love all things mason jars. How did you fall in love with mason jars… and what inspired you to help making them more portable?
I’ve always had a cabinet full of mason jars in my kitchen. I use them for everything from drinking glasses to food storage to gifts. What I’ve always loved most about them is just how fantastic they are at multitasking. However, was always a bit reluctant to take them along with me for fear they might break and instead would find myself reaching for single-function plastic or stainless steel bottles/containers. I absolutely hated the proliferation of all of these items in my kitchen (and on the planet in general!) and especially hated that I never seemed to be able to find the matching lid or cap to each container.
One day as I was packing leftover soup for my lunch (that I planned to reheat the next day at work) I stood befuddled by what to put it in. I didn’t want to put it in a plastic container because I had read about all of the chemicals that could leach into food when heated. And, of course, stainless steel can’t be microwaved either so that wasn’t an option. I thought, if only someone could find a way to make mason jars more portable! It was right then it occurred to me that if I could design a silicone sleeve for my jars it solve everything. I would feel more comfortable transporting them, I could microwave them with no fear of chemicals leaching (and no fear of burning my hand in the process), and I could finally be free from my cabinet of mismatching plastic containers/lids… (I also love that mason jars only have 2 sizes of lids!)
SHE Team: Can you tell us a few key moments in the creation of JarJackets? Take us back in time with you!
I wish I could say as soon as I had the idea it was off to the races. Far, far from it! I had no idea where to begin to create my own product from scratch… Not to mention I had a full-time corporate job and a toddler at home keeping me more than enough busy. Luckily, I quickly discovered that I could find and hire people to help me with the engineering/design on Elance (now Upwork). I also realized I had an hour and a half commute each way into the city each day that I could spend educating myself on how/where to begin with everything else. I would listen to podcasts, audio books, and any other resource I could get my hands on and taught myself how to create a prototype, market test, find a manufacturing partner, launch an e-commerce site, and so on. It took me about a year and a half from the time I decided I was going to go for it until the moment I had my first salable product in hand. But I did it! And 5 months later (in March of this year) I was able to quit my corporate job to focus on the business full time.
SHE Team: We love that your jar jackets are made out of silicone. What was your biggest challenge creating a plastic-free option?
The biggest challenge was probably finding a manufacturing partner. I probably wasted too much time trying to find the right one. The molds can also be quite expensive so it was a bit of a leap of faith to shell out the cash for the first one but I figured, “I’ve come this far I can’t stop now!”
SHE Team: What made you so passionate about reusable options and plastic options and how do you convince other that it matters?
I’ve always been concerned about the rate at which we as a nation are consuming natural resources. The proliferation of plastic and our addiction to it is not showing any signs of letting up. However, for me becoming a parent was very much a wake-up call. Bearing witness to the news each day warning us of polar icecaps melting, seas rising, and marine life drowning in colonies of plastic waste made me aware of the planet we are leaving for our children and I feel very strongly that if we are not all a part of the solution, we are part of the problem. I also believe that we can all make a difference if we collectively make small, meaningful changes.
SHE Team: Your colors are so fun! How do you choose what colors you offer?
Thank you! The creative process is by far the most fun part of this job for me and choosing colors was definitely among my favorite parts. I took inspiration from everything from a favorite necklace of mine (the “lagoon” teal color), to a pair of my daughter’s shoes (the “poppy” orange).
SHE Team: The shapes and designs are also fun? Which one is your favorite?
My favorite right now is probably our newest release, the 16 oz. regular mouth jar jacket. I literally danced around the kitchen when the first prototype arrived. I can’t explain why… I just love it.
SHE Team: It seems too simple to be true…so how does purchasing a jar jacket and switching to reusable make an impact to you?
I think it goes back to the “less is more” mantra that really made me fall in love with mason jars in the first place. Sustainability in a practical sense really boils down to reuse. At JarJackets we like to say that our mission is “to find better, more creative ways to put the time-tested mason jar to work so we can help reduce the use of single-function plastic containers.” If we can assist in helping others to achieve their goals of reusing more, we are doing our jobs.
[We just need to insert a "Heck YES!" here : ) ]
SHE Team: What are your favorite tips for using mason jars or ways to use them?
Oh I have so many! I think my favorite is the immersion blender in a wide-mouth jar trick. Next to single-function plastic containers my second biggest pet peeve is single-function kitchen appliances (especially large/heavy ones). I love using my immersion blender to make smoothies, salsas, hummus, cocktails… you name it… right in the jar. The bonus is there is less to clean up. One of my favorite parts of my job right now is finding new recipes and tricks for great meals that can be made/served in mason jars. We typically post a how-to video recipe once a week on our Facebook page and blog with some of our favorites.
SHE Team: What is the biggest challenge of owning a small business, and how do you overcome it?
Right now for me it’s deciding how best to spend my time. I tend to gravitate to more creative tasks (as is my nature) but there is so much to do it sometimes is difficult to prioritize.
SHE Team: What are your favorite sustainable, healthy, ethical (SHE) brands you use? (outside of Jar Jacket of course! ; )
I love Beeswrap! So creative and I love that it solves a real problem. I also love Hummingbird glass straws… especially the ones with little critters on them. :)
SHE Team: What's each of your favorite healthy guilty pleasure when the going gets tough – even if you are halfway around the world?
This mango lassi recipe has been a favorite of mine all summer. I posted a video and blogged about it this spring and have been obsessed ever since. It satiates my sweet tooth and with 25 grams protein it also leaves me feeling satisfied, not guilty. It's antioxidant-rich, vegan, and gluten free.
SHE Team: How can our readers best link arms and cheer you on??
Follow my Facebook and Instagram pages! I try to stay pretty active on both and it’s a great way for us to stay in touch.