Brain Dump and All Things Unknown + BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
This is an insane time of year for small businesses in retail, with markets galore and holiday orders to fill it can feel like there’s no coming up for air. I’m powering through the season but I wanted to also let you know some of the things that are going on in my head in regards to what 2019 might look like.
There will be some major changes happening with Stitch & Shutter in the next few months. Before I dive into that, I wanted to give you a bit of back story so that this announcement doesn’t seem quite so random.
In recent months, I’ve found myself being a lot more intentional about slowing down and taking more personal time. I’ve tried to stop saying “I’m too busy for (insert social obligation here)” quite so much and to just all around quiet this feeling of “busy-ness”.
It’s kind of made me think back to when I started this business and that initial thrill and excitement—even about the scary and unknown, I was still excited and ready to jump in. I took on a ton of custom projects, made whatever products I thought of without worrying if they fit into the brand, and I just basically never said “no” because I felt this obligation and I also wasn’t in a position to let any opportunity for earning pass me by. Who was I to say no? I was brand new and hadn’t built any a name for myself yet. It’s like the honeymoon period in a new relationship (from what I hear). I was flattered just to have the orders from people other than family and close friends. So, I would do anything and everything and take on projects I didn’t necessarily want to do because I thought “ugh, I can’t say no to anything.” There’s a lot of fear tied up in starting a business, can I get a “Preach, girl”???
And then as the years go by you start to say that big-little scary word. “No.” You start creating more of a cohesive brand and trying to cut out some of the things and some of the products that aren’t really working anymore or that you hate doing. Basically, this is where you start to say goodbye to the things that don’t serve you. Honestly, I still have some of those pieces available in the collection because they sell and there’s guilt about getting rid of things that sell even though they create a tremendous amount of stress to produce.
My brand has also shifted to something that suits me much better than what it was in the beginning. Stitch & Shutter is more a women’s brand, very black & white and minimal, clean, a little bit chic. And yet there are still changes I want to make and products I’d like to get rid of (truly, in order to make room for new) which will likely come with this change I’m about to tell you about.
There’s a balance that I need to find and I haven’t yet. And I’m in search of it. When I do give myself the space to slow down a bit I feel amazing. My physical health, my mental health, relationships—everything benefits. I feel awesome and happy and calm. I’m most “me” in those moments and I’m most present. But when I come back from those times I get extremely depressed. And then I’m mad at myself for it. “How am I so depressed after this amazing time off, after this amazing trip? Where I had this chance to really slow down and be more mindful and spend time with my husband, and just be more quiet.”
My husband, Chris, and I went on our wedding anniversary trip to Martha’s Vineyard in September and we stayed in a tiny home with no wifi, no tv, nothing tying us to the outside world really. And we were reading and talking and exploring the island. We cooked together and ate together and played card games. It was this incredible trip where I literally felt “healed” which, that sounds so stupid to say but there have been a lot of things going on with my health for years and I don’t know what it was about that particular trip but I came back and I was different. All of those things almost completely went away. A lot of my issues with anxiety and how it affects me very physically (that I don’t think will ever be gone entirely) were somehow “magically” improved.
But still I came back and got really depressed. I didn’t know how to integrate that white space into my day-to-day life and so I just froze up. The depression made it really hard to work, to fill orders, even answering emails became really daunting. Re-introducing myself into the real world (so to speak) suddenly felt so stupid, like being on my phone and using social media and all of these things that I felt that I had to do for my business. So that was a huge part of it, I think. Spending so much time without internet and off my phone and away from the social media rat race and then returning to it all in one sudden motion.
There was a lot of depression from that and then guilt from feeling depressed and guilt from that depression making me not want to work, and guilt from not working, and guilt from not working hard enough. All. The. Guilt. I was feeling really terrible about it all. Especially the feelings of me not contributing, which, even when I am working really hard, I’m basically not contributing financially because I still make no money. That’s another guilt aspect in itself.
So I think all of that set me off in this direction where I’m recognizing some things have to change and I’ve been wracking my brain and sort of waiting for an epiphany moment to tell me what it is exactly that needs to happen. I’ve had this overwhelming feeling that I’m forgetting something and if I just keep trying to remember what, then it will come to me in this “aha” moment.
So. Right now I’m powering through the holiday season. Taking on orders and wholesale and markets because the holidays are a MASSIVE chunk of my income for the year. I can’t afford to take it easy.
You can see the current holiday market schedule here to keep up to date with where you can shop Stitch & Shutter this season. Don’t worry! There are plenty of chances to get the goods #irl in both Denver and Fort Collins!
BUT. Change is afoot and after the holidays I’ll be setting aside two weeks to restock any low inventory and to get my “shipping department” (let’s be real, it’s a closet in my office/guest room) in order and then I’m saying peace out cub scouts! Just for a little while, honest!
That’s right. I’m stepping away and full on leaving Denver for three months. Once January hits, I’ll be heading to Cincinnati until April to nanny my sweet new nieces (yup! TWINS!). My sister asked me, somewhat jokingly, back when she was early in her pregnancy and I sort of gave her a “haha, sure I will” and went on my merry way. Then I thought more about it, inquired if she was serious, and well, here ya go. After the holidays and early in the year is the slowest season for retail and I didn’t feel that my business totally needed me here but those two little nuggets? They get some serious time with their “Aunt Bacon”.
So I’ll be changing a ton of (cloth!) diapers, doing a lot of feedings, juggling two three-month-old girls and helping out with laundry, meals, dishes, you name it. In that time, as anyone with babies would know, I’ll have SOOOOO MUCH DOWN TIME so I’ll……Wait. Just kidding. Because I’ll have my hands full and I’ll be in a completely different state, I’m not taking any work with me. Transporting my supplies and hardware and tools and such isn’t really feasible anyway unless I drive it all over there in a big ‘ole truck. So I’m not doing that.
Top-sellers in the online world will be heavily stocked before I go and my incredible husband has so graciously agreed to pack and ship orders as they come so I’ll be updating my Etsy and website to reflect only the items that are in stock and ready-to-ship. As such, custom orders and wholesale orders will not be accepted until I return in April.
I’ll also be working hard to shoot a ton of images and lifestyle shots for Instagram so that I won’t disappear from your feed completely. I’ll still be posting somewhat regularly (or at least that’s the plan, amiright?).
I’m really hoping that in the months I’m gone I’ll have a lot of time to think and consider what’s next. Because truthfully, so many things aren’t working for me in the business right now and the money stress is really starting to get to me.
I have really grand visions of the future for my little brand— I’ve been dreaming of adding handmade shoes and clothing and maybe even hats for a long, long time— and I don’t intend to go anywhere anytime soon, promise. But I want to grow and change and add and do so many things that I just need to make the space for. I so envision having a small team someday and as my brand is currently, it isn’t exactly scalable for the most part.
One thing that will definitely be changing is that I will no longer be participating in any outdoor markets. That’s a bit of a bummer because a) there are some truly exceptional ones that I love doing and b) this means I pretty much won’t be able to do any markets at all in the spring/summer season. However, I’ve already been scaling back on these in the past year and it’s because these events create so much stress and anxiety for me (wind, weather, damaged inventory and displays….fun fact: it hailed and poured rain at my very first outdoor market, amazing I stuck around this long, eh?).
Other than that, the rest is unknown. When I come back I can’t say it’ll be business as usual because I need things to change and I just don’t know what that looks like yet.
Love to you, my babes. Those of you who have made this possible are so incredibly precious to me and I hope you know how grateful I am to have you here supporting Stitch & Shutter.