It’s been a bit since Annalise or I have made a post on here, and that’s largely due to, well, life. But I thought I would break things open some by talking about where we’ve been, where we are and where we may (or may not) be headed.
So, where have we been? Last year we did a lot of planning, organizing, researching and praying on whether or not we could really make this business get up and go. Thanks to family, friends and fans we were able to give it a shot after crowdfunding enough to get some stock and supplies and head out to markets. It was fun, exciting and full of potential. But there were also some hard days – really hard days. One lesson always comes back to mind, and that was falling for slick marketing for “designer markets” that sounded perfect but turned out to be our low point – an expensive affair tucked into a suburban shopping mall, and after a long drive and a hard set-up, we didn’t have one sale. But we got through it, as partners. We became more selective with markets and product. We had a good run at Christmas and then, well, Australia takes off, and so did we.
Since then, we’ve been back to life – I’ve sorted my visa and found some work (not enough, but I’m keeping at it), Annalise is finishing her PhD while tutoring and doing other academic jobs, we got a mascot (i.e. a dog! more on him later), moved house and we’re expecting a baby in early July (or, you know, whenever). We’ve also come up against some challenges, namely not being able to get any sort of reasonable broadband access at our new home (another blog-worthy subject), which most likely means moving again sooner than we had hoped. And in all of that, we’ve also tackled some heavy debts that were on the business – more lessons learned there. We also experienced continually poor form from market managers and had enough bad days that we finally decided to try a new tack.
It’s fairly clear to us now how people make money in markets – they sell something that appeals to, well, any potential market-goer (usually, but not always, at a low price point). We don’t. We sell specialized gear and equipment that has a story and a market, but it’s a focused market and more often than not, those people aren’t expecting to find their dream yoga mat at a market. It sounded good in theory, but in practice, we were often just spinning our wheels. Retailing is hard, but we’ve never been just about retailing, so we’re now flowing back to our original intuitions.
After this month, we hope to be in a position where we finally make enough money off of sales that the business will begin to take care of itself. Our monthly expenses are fairly low, and we’ve got a good idea of what to bring on in future stock that will sell through. So we’re going to stick to our two best markets – fortunately for us, these are local: Wollongong and Coledale. In May, we’re going to redesign our website with a focus on getting our product online and available for customers to buy. If the momentum holds, we are hoping to open up a pop-up studio and shop late this year or early 2015 for a trial run of our ideas. There may be some important lessons there, too, but we’ve learned to be cautious and meet demand, not try to create it.
Then again, Anna and I are always saying to each other that we are – as individuals, as partners, as a family – open, flexible, not married to things or ideas that anything has to be a certain way. So we’re still giving it a go. But we won’t be selling jewelry, or lollies, or handbags, or whatever else might just be the thing for making money. We started this from love and hope and honest belief and we’ll see where it takes us.
We hope you’ll stay with us.