What I Wish I Knew – Jacqueline Smith, founder of Nookary

Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
8 April 2022

Jacqueline Smith took an unusual route when she decided to launch her business, Nookary, and although her background was in tech, she decided to launch a consumer product business. “I've always wanted to start my own business,” she said. “And I've always wanted to be doing something that I felt really passionate about which was giving back.”

Nookary offers waste-free, beautifully practical, household refills. Jacqueline explained: “We have a range of probiotic cleaning products, and in the future, we're planning to launch toiletries, laundry products, haircare – all those things that you would usually have in a single-use bottle around your home, we'll be doing refills for.

“My research showed that consumers struggle to find eco-friendly products, not because they're not out there but because there's so much information out there and so many bad products and greenwashing messages and products that just don't work. So it's a case of trying to find a way through that noise”

Jacqueline received a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp to help her get the business off the ground. And now that Nookary has been running for about 18 months, we caught up with her to find out what she wishes she’d known from day one…


Funding takes more time than you think

Getting your business investor-ready will definitely take longer than you think so start early. I’m in the middle of a funding round now to help the business to scale. But I needed to be honest with myself about how much investment I need. 

I had a best-case scenario in my mind – taking the Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp and that money getting me to profit and being able to scale – but I’ve had to be more realistic about it. It's totally ok to take that loan and then plan to go for another funding round. It's important to have a realistic view upfront so you can plan for it better.

Find ways of working that work for you

It's been really important for me to find other people to work with or talk to during the day. It's hard to know if I feel like this because I started my business during the coronavirus pandemic, or if it's just the difference between working for myself compared to working for someone else. It's good to create some structure that isn't just me at home on my own. I hadn't quite appreciated how different it is to run my own business.

Find ways of going out and meeting people, and don't be too hard on yourself if you have days where you do more socialising than working. It's hard to find that balance between wondering if you're not being productive enough because you haven't worked 10 hours that day, or on the flip side worrying that you're not getting your work/life balance right because you've spent 14 hours a day working. It's good to get out there and network with other people to help put it all into perspective.

Stick to your guns

It's really important to get feedback on your business and to listen to other people's opinions – especially customers and people who might buy your products. But you know your product and brand vision better than anybody else. Sometimes things can sway you – I've been caught up by this, different opinions have swayed me and I've ended up spending more money than I intended. 

I think there's an important element of sticking to your guns and believing in yourself, while also considering other people's feedback. It's a balance that you have to find when you're working on the business.

Inspired to start your own business? Visit Virgin StartUp for advice, guidance and Start Up Loans.