REFLECTIONS ON THE YEAR PAST 2018
I am also grateful to all the wonderful people who have chosen to write about us this year. We have received a lot of support from the wonderful ladies of both the print and digital media worlds, from small independent blogs to large established magazines and everything in-between. From tiny mentions to larger spreads, it all means so much. We don’t have a media budget. As in, at all. None. We don’t pay for advertising or sponsored posts and currently rely entirely on the lovely people who work in media or write blogs and our customers to spread the word about our store. If we grow it is only because of you so thank you.
On humility: this has by far been our best year to date. But at the same time, I have learned just how hard it is to raise a business from the ground up. Organic growth takes time, whether that is growing an audience or growing sales and revenue. While a few things came easier than expected, most are hard won and every triumph tends to come with an unexpected challenge. I recently read an article written by Paul O’Leary, the founder of the wonderful Devol Kitchens. In one of his blog posts, he writes candidly about his beginnings and the many struggles he faced before creating what Devol is today. He ends his article with this note:
“It wasn’t glamorous, you didn’t really need a degree to do it, but we were in business and surviving. And we knew just what a big achievement that was. It didn’t matter how much money you had or how much money you’d lost, what was important was that you made ends meet. That means it’s sustainable, it means you have a chance. Hat’s off to anyone who’s tried it, it’s very nearly impossible.”
It is very interesting to read such a frank report on the difficulties of starting a business from someone who has created such a successful company. Paul makes no secret of just how hard it can be during the initial years. But bizarrely, I find myself grateful for this too. I have a tendency of de-valuing achievements that come without much effort. No matter how significant the achievement, after the initial burst of excitement, if it isn’t hard won it rapidly fizzles into nothing and instead of feeling proud at having achieved a goal, I find myself dismissing that goal, utterly convinced it was too easy to begin with. It would appear that the more I struggle, the more humble pie baked from my own failures I am forced to eat, the deeper and more sincere the feeling of achievement seems to feel. Quiet, modest little triumphs that get woven into the fabric of my being rather than simply washing over me. Which brings me to my next point:
On expectations, reality and adaptation: nothing ends up being how we think it’s going to be. All the things I worried about before quitting my job to run our store full time turned out to not be an issue at all. The real problems we face were things that never crossed my inexperienced mind.
At the same time, the things that seemed so exciting to me when we started this business, things that felt like they would have been huge achievements, more often than not did not feel that way when they were achieved. The reality is often far less glamorous and full of all sorts of hooks and pitfalls than we imagine when we dream. What’s more, we seem to adapt so quickly to achievements, that what can seem unattainable can go from amazing to normal within the course of a few short months. This year I’ve learned that the good isn’t as good as we fantasise and the bad is rarely as bad as we worry. What this leaves us with is the journey, the tiny incremental transformations that over the course of the year add up to ensure we are standing in a thoroughly different place to where we were a year ago. There is nowhere to arrive. This journey is all we have. If we fail to learn to love this process we will have nothing at all.
On dreams for the future: the Studio space is increasingly on my mind. We have been dreaming of creating a separate studio space since we launched the store. We want it to be a multi-purpose space that can act as a showroom and a space other creatives will be able to rent to host workshops and classes, hold photo shoots and small events. We need to do considerable research and planning to find out if this is even a viable idea and if so how best to run it but the idea of another studio space that I could shoot in, that is separate from our home would be a dream come true. If it all works out, the space will be in Edinburgh and will be similar in style to our current studio (aka our home). So, if you regularly rent beautiful spaces or are just starting out and considering it, if you are in Edinburgh or are in the UK or from abroad and you travel, please get in touch to let me know you might be interested in our endeavour.
On working alone: This has been a year of working on my own. Previously, I have always worked in small teams and I was curious (and a bit nervous) to find out what it would be like to work completely on my own. Like most of the things I worried about before starting this business, it turned out to be nothing like what I expected. It seems I had forgotten that I have always been a solitary worker and that even when working in teams, my most productive output was always when I worked alone. There are so many advantages to working alone. My days are much longer as there are no meetings to attend and no colleagues to distract with my chattiness. Most importantly, I have been able to hear myself think and have had the time to reflect much more deeply as I have the space (and silence) to contemplate problems for long stretches at a time. This has brought a wonderful sense of clarity to my work and has made it far easier to learn from my mistakes. And while it has been truly restorative, next year I would very much like to start spending some of my time working with others. So, if you have ideas for collaborations get in touch.
And on the subject of getting in touch, we don’t have comments switched on for this blog but I would still love to hear from you. I am not always great with comments on social media which stems from the fact that I am generally a little dubious about most aspects of public commenting. While the community aspect of public commenting is truly wonderful, there are considerable drawbacks I have yet to make my peace with. From the anonymity that makes it far easier to leave thoughtless and sometimes downright cruel comments in a way we rarely would in face to face conversation to the superficial commenting used to boost Instagram algorithm ratings or create link-backs, there are many things that make me feel uncomfortable with regards to public commenting. But while I am not so great at comments, I am great with email and I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on anything we do from our blog to the store, from products to pricing or anything else, good or bad. So, if you fancy getting in touch to share your thoughts or would just like to say hello, I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for a great year! None of this would be possible without your support.
Products featured in this shoot: Hand Dyed Velvet Jewel Cushion Covers in Pacific, Kapok Safari Daybed Mattress in Traditional Stripes used as a sofa cover, Tallow Candle in Grey, Simple matte White Vase, Hand Loomed Cotton Blanket in Charcoal, Classic French Table Glasses, Iconic Mortar and Pestle, Botanical Dyed Linen Napkins in Stone