Q&A: Packing a punch for female business leaders

This week we talk to Monique Samara who founded Packqueen ten years ago to help small businesses with their packaging needs, and now finds herself – to her surprise – as a leader in the traditionally male-dominated industry.

ISB: What made you decide to enter the packaging business?

PG: My grandparents owned an antique shop and I watched my grandmother use to use wrapping paper, ribbons and boxes when she sold something in her shop. She did such a beautiful job and took such care in the presentation of the wrapping. I knew I loved packaging and I wanted to bring the same experience to other business owners by producing a diverse range of packaging with beautiful colours and styles.

ISB: How did you fund the getting the business off the ground?

PG: My own personal investment and family support helped get Packqueen up and running in the very early stages. I had a very stringent business plan in place to ensure that the business was tracking to be self-sufficient in a very short period of time.

ISB: And what about marketing – how did you get the message about Packqueen out to potential customers?

PG: A lot of our business has come from word of mouth. We strive to be a leader in packaging by innovating and designing new products that haven’t been seen in the market. My inspiration comes from seeing those businesses succeed. Through our packaging we’re allowing our customers to deliver products to their customers with a faster turn around and better presentation than they might ever had. As a result, our customers refer us to businesses to help them in the same way. In addition, we have also done a lot of advertising (online and in print).

ISB: What challenges did you face when you were starting out as an entrepreneur, especially being in a traditionally male-dominated industry?

PG: The biggest challenge I’ve faced is building the right team. Having the right team around you is extremely important. I see a team as a jigsaw puzzle. If you get all the right pieces together you have a beautiful picture but if you are missing a piece or it’s the wrong shape it simply will not work. We believe in having likeminded individuals to support the overall goal of Packqueen.

ISB: What do you consider as the defining milestone or achievement of the business so far?

PG: We have grown considerably since we started. We entered the market with only 20 core products and one of our significant achievements included the increase in 2017 from 2000 products to 4000 products. We doubled the size of our product offering and we worked incredibly hard to achieve this.

ISB: How do you see the business developing in the next few years?

Further expansion on products, and innovating products that have never been seen before within a packaging space. Our ultimate goal for any product is to create useful, cost effective products for businesses.

We are also expanding our custom division to allow customers to grow with us. We have seen small businesses that started off purchasing only 25 boxes grow significantly to purchasing thousands of boxes with us. Even though we have hundreds of different stock sizes, our ability to custom design has helped those businesses move to the next stage

ISB: Finally, what was the best piece of advice you have received you could pass on to others with an idea they’d like to turn into a business?

PG: Overall, the ability to keep calm amongst any storm that occurs. Business is hard and challenging but, with the right mindset, you can overcome anything. My focus and dedication to Packqueen and our customers has never changed since day one. No matter what obstacle has come my way, the goal has never changed.

Over the years we have had times when things have been challenging but I never once gave up – we just need to readjust, reshift and move forward. Any time we have had to make an adjustment has always worked out for the best. In business, I am a big believer in everything happening for a reason. Sometimes the reason is not known at the time, but it makes sense down the track.

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