• ruthich1976

A year to remember?

We're at the end of December now and as things move towards the New Year, 2022, I decided that I'd think about the past 12 months for me and my business. An opportunity to look back on the ups and downs and just reflect on what the year has meant all in all. Read on for my honest interpretation of the year!

January - March

I chose Forward as my word of the year. 2020 had been chaotic with trying to run a small business, home schooling and family bereavements. I felt this year I needed to move forward and not look back.

In January, sales dropped as they always generally do post Christmas, and I moved to making more ready to ship items after a conversation with my business coach, Lynsey. This has been a real positive this year. Although sometimes items don't sell as well as you had hoped initially, it is much easier in terms of shipping to be able to just wrap and send than have to make first.

I also started to think about changes to what I sell and move into kits and downloads. I launched the first of these, the Reusable Make Up Wipes Kit and Reusable Make Up Wipes PDF Download in March.

I took part in Lynsey's Handmade Craft Fair in January and in February started selling packs of fabric from the bolts I had in stock. I've had some success with this, especially with the Terry Towelling and you can read all about why I love it in my recent blog post.

Sales over all through this period were pretty low, so I'm grateful to everyone who continued to support me, both with purchases and through social media.

I continued to send out my newsletter, which is the one thing I really love creating - adding in all the film and TV quotes and other tidbits is a challenge I really enjoy!

In my personal life the challenges started early with my best friend losing her partner extremely suddenly in February at the age of 45. If I'm honest this had much more of an impact on me than I realised for the rest of the year.

April - June

Sales picked up thanks in part to doing another fair this time in April through The Handmade Craft Fair . Lynsey has worked hard at getting this up and running and she's recently celebrated 10K followers on Instagram - well done Lynsey!

I also launched my website in this quarter, on April 1st - no joke! This has been a year of discovery with the website. I've been blogging regularly, either weekly or fortnightly and really enjoying it, and it works very well combining it with the newsletter. I'm particularly proud of the monthly blog post called '5 Questions for an Eco-Friend' where I can showcase other small businesses and people who have an Eco focus. You can find them all on the blog page - from refill shops to sewists and beyond!

I hit 600 sales at the start of May, which was a huge achievement. I revised my goal to 700 sales for the year on account of this. Initially at the end of December last year I had hoped to hit 1,000 at the end of 2021. I realised with everything else that was going on the pressure to get there would be too much.

I also moved to selling fabric by the metre at this point in the year, and I've recently restocked some fabrics so I've listed them again. I LOVE fabric, it's no lie and I would love to continue to bring you bright and bold fabrics for your reusable makes, so look out for more over the next 12 months.

I also started writing and designing my sanitary towel pattern. This was a real labour of love and I learnt Illustrator the hard way! It launched at the start of June and has been a popular download so far - and the pack of fabric to go with it has been well received too.

I also started to remove listings for things like face wipes and other items that I was turning into kits. I still make custom orders for these things, so if you want anything, you simply have to message me on Etsy .

With three kits out, of course I couldn't stand still, I had to start the bowl cover kit and bowl cover PDF download!

Personally I continued to find things a struggle with various issues underlying that often cheery face you see in social media, but 6 months into the year, I can see just how much I was persevering in changing my business into what I wanted it to become.

July - September

With July came the school summer holidays and I decided to take as much time as I could off with the children. Things had been hard with family life as my husband was preparing to clear and sell his parents' house. We went away a couple of times and made the most of things opening up again with fewer restrictions.

The house got cleared and sold, and I managed to finally get away to Switzerland to see my friend and her children. This was a huge relief to me as I could see she was managing really well despite all that had happened.

In August, the Bowl Cover Kit finally launched, later than hoped, but that's the way it is sometimes, and you just have to go with the flow.

At the start of September I gave you a free pattern on how to make up a bag from an old pair of denim jeans and scrap cotton fabrics. I have plans to share more free patterns in the future too - I like giving back and sharing as much knowledge as I can.

My positivity started to improve in the aftermath of going to Switzerland - something had finally lifted and I looked towards Christmas and yet another kit and download.

October - December

In October I launched kit number 5 - Christmas Crackers. Honestly, I'm quite impressed with all I've managed to do this year. 5 kits since January whilst managing everything else is pretty good going!

My favourite kit so far because it's really cheerful and positive and because my tester said she managed to make them in under an hour and loved them. I wrote in my email when they launched:

"I like to aim all my Kits and PDF Downloads at beginner sewists.... I want to inspire all you slightly scared sewers to get that machine out and get sewing something pretty, practical and planet friendly."

There's nothing I love more than knowing that someone out there has managed to finally get their sewing machine out and make something useful and reusable.

I hit my 700 sales target in November. A month early!

It's December now and the year is almost at an end. I wanted to write this because I have found this year a real struggle with business and family life. Running the two together isn't easy and a lot this year has made me question whether I should carry on.

When I read it though, it reminds me of why I started this business. To share my love of making with you. Sales may not have been great at times, but they have come. I've launched 5 kits and PDF downloads, my website and started selling fabric which is the direction I had envisioned for this year.

My enthusiasm dropped, but I kept it going by writing blog posts and newsletters. Other small businesses have kept me going too and supported me through some rough patches and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I'm reminded that when others tell me they are failing, I always do my best to keep them going because they set their business up because they had a passion for it. I am determined to rekindle that passion and bring you more of me and more products I know you will love to make.

Thank you for making it this far in this blog post and to all of you who have supported me throughout my journey. It's definitely not over yet!

Here's to 2022!

Ruth xxx

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