You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore. ~André Gide
This time of year is always the perfect time to sit back and reflect a little bit. Every successful business owner does this in some fashion. I’m no different. Looking back on our year helps me to see where we were and helps me to come up with goals for the new year.
With utmost confidence I can say we definitely were more successful in 2017 than we were in 2016 and we also most definitely learned and grew a lot more in 2017 than in any other year.
A quick glance at the staff alone is telling of how much we grew. Not only has our team grown, but Marlene got much more hands on with the business and has been an incredible asset to our team.
We added an office to the back of our studio in January. It has been one of the best things having a sort of sanctuary away from the busyness of the studio. Not only is our new office a beautiful haven for our team but it is also where we do business. We hold meetings there and coach various small business owners in the community. Incidentally, if you are interested in having a business coach, I’m available and you can find more information by following this link. Business Coaching.
January also found us revamping our technology. Using Shopify, we redesigned our website. Going from two systems to one. It has been one of the best things for us. For one, our customers are much happier and two, it has streamlined how we do online business and have access to all kinds of reports that makes the accounting side of life much easier.
In every business there is some trial and error. We introduced a new bedding line in January and it was met with little enthusiasm and so we ditched the line and moved on. This is a lesson for small business owners, don't get too attached to an idea, if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Keep moving forward.
February found us heading south to Sarasota and closing up our studio there. We wanted to put more focus on our studio in Millersburg and our online store. On the way home from Sarasota we stopped off at the Woodstock Antique Shop near Atlanta and visited our friends who are the owners there. We set up a "pop up shop" there and were able to part with some of our inventory from the Sarasota studio. I feel blessed to have friends like the fine folks at the Woodstock Antique Shop.
February proved to be a busy month and found us traveling to California to a fabric show. Our team ordered a great batch of fabric and by the time we arrived back home a dozen or so fabric rolls were on our doorstep waiting for us. The fabric shows are always inspirational but can be a bit overwhelming to power through and take it all in. The fabric shows have proved to be successful trips for us. We've always been able to pick out wonderful soft-to-the-touch and flattering fabrics for our newest designs.
Taking in the Round Top Antique Show in Texas was on the agenda in March. We took some time off to go to America's largest antique show. We stayed about an hour and half away in beautiful Austin, Texas. We came away with many fine treasures and a hearty respect for the folks who put on such an amazing event.
While in Texas we decided to go to Waco and take in Magnolia Market, Chip and Joanna Gaines' store. It was about 2 hours from where we were staying and we had an enjoyable time driving there and getting to see their market and how they had displayed the products. Waco is definitely a cute little town, with lots of character.
Back at the store we added special cards to our orders, both online and in studio. If you have purchased from us you will know what I'm talking about. Each card says, "You are 100% Beautiful, 100% Worthy, 100% Unique, !00% God Made." So often us ladies can be hard on ourselves, we hope the cards serve as a reminder that each one is special in their own way.
April found us at the Country Living Fair in Nashville. It was one of those bumps businesses have to contend with from time to time. It was cold and rainy. We had product damage from all the rain they had that weekend. There is a silver lining in every cloud though and seeing all our repeat customers pushing through the cold and rain and stopping by to see us was the highlight of our weekend in Nashville.
Back at the Millersburg studio we added an antique room and displayed many of my treasures I've purchased along the way. There is something about antiques that speak to me and they ask for me to bring them home with me. But, I'm not one to get too attached to things and so we decided to make an antique room part of our studio to help me pare down on my collections.
We didn't have much going on in May. I've always wanted to write a book so I got started with that. Writing a book isn't a simple task and I work on it as I have time. It was nice to have that lull in May to give me a jump start on it. My hopes are that I can get it published in 2018.
June proved to be an exciting month. Mandy Beachy opened up her second "Olde World Bakery and Bistro" beside us. Two things happened when she moved in, one, our studio started to see even more traffic coming through the doors and two, we now have great food at our fingertips. We can order take out from Mandy's bistro, or we can actually sit down and enjoy a great meal in a beautiful space.
Also, in the month of June a special visitor stopped by. She is a lady from Alabama and I think she has purchased one of every piece we have sold online. It is always nice to know who are the fans of our frocks.
Tourist season was upon us in July and we saw an added upswing in foot traffic because we had billboards put up in several locations around the area and they have proven to be worth their weight in gold. It is nice to know that if we take time to dig in and figure out advertising - it does pay off.
July also brought our team a beautiful honor. We were on the cover of the "Where Women Create" magazine. On the inside was a ten page spread of our studio and our frocks. It was done up just beautifully and we felt incredibly blessed to have been chosen. It was pretty exciting to walk into Barnes and Noble and see our pictures on the cover of a magazine sold in that store. Beyond all that, our online traffic increased after the magazine came out. It felt like everyone wanted to see what the buzz was about and our sales increased as well.
On a bit more personal level. I had my first speaking engagement for a group of ladies in Winesburg, Ohio. Here is a link to my blog post about that experience. A Speaking Engagement.
Our studio got a bit of a face lift in August. We installed a new front door.
We also had a photo shoot for the book I'm currently writing. My book will have pictures for all of my visual readers.
Also, in August our blog hit a high note with Shopify and we had the second highest read blog post that month. I had done a series of blog posts about the Amish and they were a hit.
We had an incredibly successful show at Country Living Fair in Columbus in September. It was the best one we've had thus far. It was very warm in September, but we didn't mind because we were having so much fun helping our customers find the perfect pieces to take home with them.
October found us on the road doing two shows.
One in Columbus at the Franklin County Fairgrounds. We set up a booth at the Vintage Market Days. Our seamstresses had been busy the past few months getting all the frocks sewn and ready for both the Country Living Fair and the Vintage Market Days.
We also did another Country Living Show, and this one was in Atlanta. We always have so much fun doing these shows and I feel like we put so much work into the preparation beforehand that we truly enjoy the whole show these days.
Farmhouse Frocks hit a milestone of 30,000 followers on Instagram in October. It was an amazing feeling to get to that point. We have worked really hard networking with others and building up our social media platform. Our next goal is to reach 50,000 Instagram followers. Can we do it in 2018?
We also made another trip to California, to a fabric show and had a beautiful time doing some traveling along the way. You can read all about that trip if you click on this link. Fabric Show and Inspiration
In November we had our Christmas Open House and it was a big success. It was wonderful to see all the old and new friends coming through our doors.
We also won the chamber of commerce small business of the year award in November. What an incredible honor that was. Being given that award I felt validated that what my vision is for our company is spot on. I love to empower other women to achieve their own goals and dreams. It was a beautiful way to end the year for Farmhouse Frocks. You can read about it here. Small Business Award of the Year
We added our Elizabeth coat and it was received with much anticipation and zeal. Many ladies were getting an Elizabeth coat under the tree to unwrap at Christmas.
We prepared for and had our Christmas banquet for our Amish seamstresses. You can read about it here, if you missed it. Seamstress Banquet
We also had a nice dinner at Broken Rocks in Wooster for our sales staff and other employees.
In between all the banquets and dinners we found time to take a few days off and head to Sarasota for a mini vacation and to set some goals for 2018. It was nice to get away and be able to focus on my goals and not have to worry about the day to day activities for a couple days.
Five Top Sellers
- Rita Romper
- Shirt Extenders
- Dixie Tunic
- Lizzie Tunic
- Rosie Cardigan
And that is it, our year in review. I hope you enjoyed walking through the past year with me as much as I enjoyed it. We have come a long way and Farmhouse Frocks has had its most successful year yet. Steve Jobs said it best when he said, "Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people." I agree, if not for my team, the Amish seamstresses and our 100% beautiful, 1005 worthy, 100%unique, and 100% God Made customers Farmhouse Frocks would be nothing.
Thank you and may God bring you a blessed and wonderful New Year.