Jen and Madeleine Anderson are a mother daughter team that started their entrepreneurial journey in an effort to help later fund Madeleine’s education. They created GiGY to offer musicians innovative and unique gig bags and support their mission. Here we take a peek into their journey.
Jason Ranalli: What made you want to start your own business?
Madeleine Anderson: So basically what happened is that the topic of college came up. I have a couple of years to go before college and I was thinking we should get a little prepared. So I went up to my mom and said, “hey, can we do something about this whole college situation; perhaps do a business or something to help save up for it?” And then she was like, “yeah, sure.”[Laughs]
Jen Anderson: You can’t say no to that, you just say yes and go with it.
MA: After that we were wondering what to do next. We were just going through all these ideas such as, “maybe we should paint on pillows – no that’s a terrible idea.” Stuff like that. I can’t even remember some of the other ones. They were pretty bad. But then one day you came up to me and said, “your gig bags stink, let’s make fun ones.”[Laughs]
JR: So that was the aha moment. As a former guitar player I know most gig bags are very boring and are usually just black.
MA: That’s why we like how original our bags are.
JA: It’s fun and and musicians are artists themselves so why wouldn’t they want a colored gig bag?
JR: When did you start putting the steps together to get started on your business?
JA: It was the fall of 2015. We wanted to make fun gig bags and offer a lot of options. But from a production perspective that gets complicated. That’s when we came up with the new design idea to customize the gig bag with a modular system. That is more manageable from a production standpoint.
MA: Then we showed the bags to my guitar teacher and he said, “you know, you’re differentiated a lot but what really is going to make a difference is the support, ” and that’s when we upgraded the foam padding. You can feel it’s pretty sturdy.
JR: These are definitely more solid than the gig bags I’ve owned.
JA: We’re that middle ground. You’re not going to put a GiGY Bag in the cargo hold of an airplane…
MA: But if you’re in a subway station and you run into a pole this will do a lot better that what’s out there. [Laughs]
JA: The other problem we wanted to address was that Madeleine has all these different instruments but only one tuner and one capo, so when she would switch instruments we would have to move all the stuff to a different gig bag. This is when we came up with the idea of Potes. They are interchangeable so you can keep your tuner and your capo in one Pote and then just attach it to whatever bag you’re taking with you. It’s so easy.
JR: So you created your own term called “Pote”.
MA: Yes, it means a pocket tote.
JR: That definitely adds another angle to your marketing because it’s unique for your product.
JA: We’ve made up of a lot of words. Our brand name, Gigy, is also made up.
JR: The logo is cool because it’s fairly simple yet visual. Did you make the logo yourself or did you contract that out?
JR: How many bag prototypes did you have to go through until you got to what you have now?
JA: I would say probably seven or eight before we came up with something that we were happy with.
JR: Do you still make these here on site?
MA: We’re still making them on-site.
JA: In the near future we will need help with manufacturing but we’re still learning what people want.
MA: And even what instruments people are drawn to. Right now, the ukulele is pretty hot so that is predominantly what we’re doing.
JR: That one surprises me because I would think most of your business would be driven towards guitars.
MA: I think part of it is that ukuleles are a lot more portable and you can take them anywhere. For people that are maybe picking up an instrument for the first time it might be less intimidating than the guitar. Especially for the kids it’s great because you can take them anywhere; you can take them to school.
JR: Being in the same market with a lot of other gig bag makers for various instruments, how do you stand to compete and/or differentiate yourself? Was it something you were conscious of early on?
JR: That’s very tough to compete with.
JA: We’re figuring it out. Honestly, what we’re trying to do is differentiate the product. There’s nothing like it out there, so we’re trying to reach the people that want something fun and different. We are a family business and when you buy a ukulele bag the profit is going toward her college fund.[Laughs]
JR: Do you find that your buyers have a bit more of an emotional or invested interest in your product as opposed to heading down to a store like George’s music and just picking a random bag off the wall?
MA: Actually, we are going to try and get on those shelves. We really like them.
JA: We do, we love George’s and that’s where we got all our instruments. The hard part is that GiGY is a completely new concept. We’re trying to figure out where we fit, honestly. We’re learning the market and the industry so everything is brand new to us. The ukulele community on Instagram is awesome. It has been so much fun in getting to know so many new people.
More to follow – watch this space for the second part of this interview.
To see more of Jen, Madeleine, and GiGY head over to www.gigystuff.com
Makeup done by Kyle Nagle