Given the craziness of 2021, I wanted to take a little step back and reflect on some things that have taken place in the shop this year... so far. You all have been so supportive and uplifting, and not a day goes by that I don't stop and give thanks for your orders and your kind words.
(If you're playing catch up, click here to read last year's "end of year" review)
COVID-19 still happens to be a thing, and regardless of your politics, I think we can all agree we are tired of the endless chatter and its persistence. Whether it has affected your health or your bottom line, COVID-19 has been a four letter word that all of us have grown to hate.
After the lockdowns in 2020 and having been furloughed from my part-time job early in the year, I had serious concerns that the pillow shop wouldn't survive. March and April of 2020 were filled with much anxiety and so many tears. I had just left a solid career and a dream job to run an uncertain pillow shop full time. Had I made the wrong decision? Had I put my own wants before God's will?
By July of 2020, I was feeling better about the shop's survival and my decision to run the shop full time. As people started settling into their new "work from home" lifestyles, the design industry started to bust at the seams. From full renovations to little updates here and there, many began putting a priority on making their homes beautiful and comfortable since they would be spending so much time there instead of at the office.
I was incredibly fortunate to still be operating at the end of last year, and having eventually exceeded my sales goal for the 2020 year, I had no idea what to expect for 2021.
By the end of January 2021, I realized things weren't slowing down any time soon. I had set a humble 15% growth goal for 2021. My January 2021 sales exceeded January 2020 sales by 180%. For those who don't follow retail, January is typically a very slow month... so imagine my shock that January had been so busy!
February, again shockingly, proved to be just the same... 190%.
To be fully transparent, there have been a few slow weeks here and there. When you are self employed and orders aren't consistent, it's hard to not let it get the best of you. Slow days aren't typically good for the mind! March, although busier than the previous year, allowed me to catch my breath a bit. Having exceeded my sales goal for both January and February, I was much calmer during the slowness of March... which still ended with a 235% growth rate!
By the end of July 2021, I reached my entire sales from 2020. Whoa.
I tell people often that I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm being completely honest. I really don't. I don't have a degree in textiles or sewing... I'm self taught, and I've only been officially sewing pillows for a few years. Often people say, "it's that marketing degree!" Yes, I have a marketing degree... I've never worked in marketing, and I earned that degree prior to the social media craze... so that's not it. I'm puzzled most days as to why my shop has grown so much, but I'm so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve you as I do.
Lately, the most common question has been, "what's next?!" To which I just shrug my shoulders and say "let the chips fall where they may." Honestly, I really don't know what the next move should be. Many people ask if I'm planning to hire or if I'm planning to expand outside of my home. These are all very good questions and very real concerns I'm having.
I've run out of space in my home. I have so many new fabrics on the way, and I have no idea where I'll store them. I have boxes of inserts stacked in my own bedroom. All of my closets are full and so is my attic. There is literally no more space, but I'm not ready to leave my home just yet. Besides, where would I find a commercial space that is also Ruthie friendly?!
Hiring an employee or two seems possible for 2022, but I have a hard time giving up control to others. Can I trust someone to market my shop to the right people on Instagram and Facebook? Would someone else install a zipper or serge a seam the way I do? Do I even want to scale my business that much that it would require me hiring others?
These are problems all business face at some point or another. My pillow shop is no different. As August begins, I'm looking forward to what is to come. Yes, it could all come crashing down tomorrow, but God has taught me so much about myself, about others, and about life through this journey so far. The gratitude I have is overwhelming, and I struggle to speak the words without tears welling up in my eyes when I say "thank you."
Your orders, your kind words, your little bits of encouragement along the way haven't been unnoticed. There is so much uncertainty for the remainder of 2021, but I am full of hope that God is in control... in your life and in mine.
"No regrets" has been my tagline since the end of 2019, and it still holds true today. I've experienced several challenges and speed bumps along the way, but instead of retreating, I've learned from them and pivoted my shop to make your shopping experience even better. The road ahead won't be easy. New challenges will appear, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to face those too. I look forward to adding new fabrics soon and being a source of good for your home. I hope you'll keep checking back and following along as this little pillow shop grows. Your support means the world to me, and I hope you know how much you are appreciated.
Henderson Mary says...
Katie, what a year of growth you’ve had! Exciting and thought provoking, and I know you will make the right decisions about your path forward. I will keep praying for you!
As for space, I know a large unoccupied building on the Carthage square, located across the street from the post office, a couple of doors down from Dr. David Henderson. I sold it to the local realtor but I’ll bet he would rent you some space there! I’m only half kidding!
You must know that your success is a product of your hard work, natural talent, commitment to excellent service, and courage!
I admire you so much, and love you like a granddaughter. Come see me when you can…you’re always welcome!
August 02, 2021