Welcome to another Sound Business Services’ (SBS) client profile. We recently interviewed Lisa Zawacki, founder and “dZiner” of Gorilla Sacks in Atlanta, Ga. Here is what she had to say about the company’s unique name and backstory, what sets it apart, and what she gets out of the SBS relationship.
Jonathan Bill: Tell our readers what Gorilla Sacks is all about, including how you came up with the unique name.
Lisa Zawacki: Back in 2005, I read an article about the afterlife of billboards. Once retired, they were just thrown away. These massive pieces of non-degradable vinyl were rapidly filling up our landfills.
I was sure there was something useful that could be made from this highly durable, often colorful material. On a whim, I called several outdoor advertising companies, who allowed me to pick up some of these retired billboards. Those several billboards sat in my garage for several years. Then, one day while traveling in the Netherlands, I purchased a bag that seemed to be made of the same material. So, in 2009, I began creating a line of unique messenger bags, and Gorilla Sacks was born.
Prior to obtaining those billboards, one sleepless night I was channel surfing and came upon the National Geographic documentary about Koko, a Western Lowland Gorilla known best as “the signing gorilla.” I watched in amazement that Koko was capable of understanding more than 1,000 signs based on American Sign Language, and around 2,000 words of spoken English. My fascination and adoration of these amazing creatures began at that moment. I wanted to help protect them in any small way I could. So, in addition to donating to various gorilla conservation efforts, our bags are gorilla-tough, and that’s how the name Gorilla Sacks was born.
JB: Tell us about the driving force behind why you started the company, and how your goals/expectations have changed over time.
LZ: I began selling my Gorilla Sacks on eBay and Amazon, and planned to simply sell retail. Portland General Electric contacted me in those early years, asking that we help design a messenger bag for their sales people. I realized there was another need we were missing – custom corporate. We now mainly focus on that, but we do still sell retail on our website.
JB: What sets you apart from the competition?
LZ: We are a boutique operation – patterns are hand-cut, taking into account placement of graphics and text, and while there may be duplicate billboards, there aren’t duplicate interpretations for each bag. Furthermore, all bags are handcrafted in Georgia. Each is sewn by individual contract artisans, unlike our competition that manufacture overseas and mass laser cut patterns. We keep our footprint much smaller this way. In turn, it helps our clients to tell their sustainability story.
JB: When did you first engage SBS? Why did you reach out to us?
LZ: We began with SBS in 2012. We reached out as we were beginning to expand and needed help with our bookkeeping services, freeing up time for us to concentrate on obtaining and retaining clients.
JB: What services does SBS currently provide to your company?
LZ: SBS currently handles our monthly bookkeeping, in addition to end of year tasks, such as 1090 filings.
JB: Please explain the difference that SBS has made in your company.
LZ: SBS has allowed us to focus on our core business needs. We don’t have the knowledge and expertise that they have in these aspects of business. They have also simply given us a break from this tedious aspect of our business and have given us an honest look at our business’ finances. We’re lucky to have found them!