So, the festive season is over, the new year starts in a few hours and it feels like a good time to take stock of the crazy ride that 2017 has been. So here goes:
I listed my first vegan wraps on the 8th June 2017. I had no idea if anyone would want them - if the zero waste and vegan communities had any overlap and even if they did would anyone like the patterns and packs I'd chosen? It was scary and I more than half expected the universe to just keep on walking by.
But those first wraps sold. I had stumbled on a wonderful and vibrant community of committed vegan zero-wasters and they lifted me up like a wave. UnSponges and storage bags followed and by November I felt like I might actually have a little business here.
Lesson 1: There are others who share your values
I began to make plans for expanding my marketing and prototyped a new product range for testing - I thought that things might get a bit busy around the festive season - I'd sold out really early at the Norwich Christmas Vegan Fayre after all - but I'd got lots of stock in hand now so I'd be fine to think about expansion ... wouldn't I?
Lesson 2: Never think you've got it all covered.
I wasn't fine. The orders exploded and I began to get behind almost immediately. All thoughts of anything other than crafting my existing range were abandoned - it was intense, humbling and almost more than I could keep up with. I roped my husband into cutting out patterns and my daughter into boxing orders, the nights got later and later and I began to feel like I was going to single-handedly ruin the Christmases of the nicest group of customers I could ever have wished for. I won't lie to you - it got teary for a wile there. If I needed motivation to get my workflow and sourcing in top notch order I certainly had it now!
By the 21st of December I'd wedged my planning hat back on and vowed to never, ever, let things run away from me like that again.
Lesson 3: Plan for the best case as well as the worst.
On the brink of 2018 I'm working these lessons into every area of my business to make the next year even better than the last. I have so many zero waste ideas that I'm longing to share with you that it's going to be tough deciding which to launch and which to save but know that I can't do everything and still do it well. Last year I made those decisions alone and I worried about each new one - this year I'm going to ask you what you need and take my community's advice - every time I've asked for feedback you've been there for me. You rock, zero wasters - you really do.
Lesson 4: You don't have to go it alone.
Thank you for making the first seven months such a blast and a happy, plastic-free, new year to everyone!