As much as I hate to admit it, I found myself falling under the influence of Aussie summer holidays and didn’t do nearly as much work on Upward Dog as I would have liked this past month. Granted, we did have a lot going on: I finalized my visa application, continued to work on a volunteer basis, we moved house and there were early days pregnancy appointments. But through all that, Annalise and I have had some very deep reflections and discussions about how Upward Dog has been going and how we will progress.
First, we are getting clearer (with some help from market friends!) about how to make our market stall feel more like a store. This will be an important shift for us, as we’ve envisioned working out of a boutique from the start of this dream. This is also necessary to really help people understand what we’re all about – providing sustainable, ethical, local (as we can), beautifully designed and lovingly made yoga and life gear. Often in our best markets, people get us right away, but the more that we can tell the story of our wares through the shopping experience, the better.
Second, we have had the opportunity to get a better feel for what the yogis and movers in our area like – and what they don’t. Being the young pups that we are, it hasn’t been easy to watch some of our stock sit for ages while others fly off the shelf – but that’s just part of business. We’re learning, too, how to maneuver within the “markets” mentality (for example, fuller racks and brighter colors) while not sacrificing our values. And it looks like we’re fairly close to the point where we can pay our bills and put sales money into new and refreshed lines. That’s really good as we’ve spent the last few months largely playing catch-up with debt. It feels a bit easier now that we know which lines to always keep in stock and how to be clear about our need to try new ideas slowly.
Third, we’re both excited about expanding our online offerings and seeking other opportunities within our community. We’ve hit an infamous Illawarra snag in that we have been blocked in trying to get internet access – a serious dent in the ways that Annalise and I both work, play, communicate and organize our lives. But we’ll just keep trying until it works, and meanwhile we are getting reacquainted with the libraries all around. We’re not interested in spreading ourselves too thin, but if we can make a few online and wholesale sales without sacrificing what we’re all about, then dammit, we’re in. And since it’s all early days, we can drop or pick things up over time, at least until we get to the big dream.
Yes, there is an end goal to all of this. We still envision running a studio, boutique and service/office space somewhere in the Northern Suburbs of the Illawarra. We have our eyes on a few tempting spots – I won’t say what those are here – but we can absolutely see how much possibility there is to provide an excellent space to support local teachers and students in a variety of practices. It’s not all about business – we’re also thinking about community. How can we create space that is flexible for other uses? How do we time offerings to align with the needs of families? How can we create safe and fun space for kids, for dogs, for everyone? Well, trust me, we’re thinking on it, and all the details that are needed to support it.
So last year was pretty big for us, in lots of ways. But this year?! Whoa. We’re getting more serious by the day. Keeping our eyes on equity crowdfunding news, our ears open for good advice and our hearts open to whatever may come. And we thank you, our customers, our friends, our community, our family, our fans and well-wishers. Because all of these words are just that, until you step in and lift these ideas up. Together. Stay tuned, people. Stay tuned.