It took me a week to muster up the courage to apply for the Fedex Small Business Grant. This may seem foolish because what business owner wouldn’t welcome $30,000 but the idea of putting myself out there to receive votes, while also asking for financial assistance filled me with enough anxiety and insecurity to shut down the entry browser about 26 times.
But I did it. Yesterday I completed my application and did my first formal request for votes. If you want to know why, keep reading. If you are just in the voting mood. Click the button below.
Growing is damn expensive
Our growth over the past year has been exponential and at times a whirlwind. While this has been extremely exciting and a ‘good problem to have’, it has meant with each season, our production costs have more than tripled and each season requires a lot more financing upfront to start fabric and sewing production. I have worked extremely hard to put every bit of money I can back into the company so we don’t have to pull back on giving you guys new products and continuing to improve the ones we have, but having this financial boost would help us immensely.
I’ve talked about this before but I think the perception is when people see a company growing quickly they must be rolling in money. The reality is Canadian production is costly. High quality fabrics are costly. Growing is costly and in the past year I’ve seen more businesses like mine shut down than start-up. This business started as a hobby while I was broke AF on maternity leave. In a perfect world I would have started with a proper business plan, an accountant and lawyer lined up from day one and financial backing to let ‘er rip.
But that’s not my story and that’s ok. This business has been built on passion, hard work, hustle, tears, anxiety and the very best customer following anyone could ask for. This grant would change none of that, but would help me do more and give back to you guys – the customer base who has kept us going.
There’s so much more to do
We have set big goals for this year and I think it’s only fair I share some of that to give you an understanding of where the grant would go if I were to be lucky enough to receive it. I am in the process of overhauling our fabric production. By fall of 2019, our goal is to be using 100% exclusive fabric milled and dyed right here in Ontario, Canada. I’ve made this decision for a couple reasons. The first is I know we can do better. One of the things that makes our clothes so special is the softness of our fabrics but over the last couple of seasons I’ve taken customer feedback extremely seriously and have found some inconsistencies and room for improvement. I know we can do better and so we will do better. I plan to take exactly what you love about our products and fabrics now and build on that to make them even better and more consistent. The second reason is as we grow as a company I don’t just want our products to be handmade in Canada but I’d like every step of the end-to-end process take place as close to home as possible. I’m still learning and it’s a journey with changes happening along the way (some bigger than others). This is a biggie and a lot of risk but I’m a sucker for going all-in.
We have been working for the past few months on this improvement and will continue to work on it until fall goes into production but what you can expect for next season is new colours, new textures, new fabrics you've never seen from us before, new styles along with even softer versions of our bamboo jersey and fleece that you know and love. All of it knit right here in Ontario.
To set an example
At the risk of sounding like a narcissist, I know there are people who look up to me as a business owner. In fact, shortly after I posted the stories that I had entered this grant competition, I received multiple messages from people saying they were encouraged to do something that put them outside of their comfort zone as a direct result.
I know sharing all of this publicly makes me vulnerable and I worried it may make me seem like a failure. I also know trying to portray an image of perfection has never worked for me. I’m not perfect and my business is not perfect. Some days I’m on top of the world and other days I’m in the fetal position on the floor. This is the life of an entrepreneur and I’m not doing anyone any favours by pretending it’s any different.
If being transparent about what it’s like for me to run my business helps a handful of people have that ‘ok so it’s not just me’ moment, then all this over-sharing is well worth it.
The voting process
You’re still reading which is a good sign. Now let’s talk about how you can help. Voting can happen daily (once within a 24 hour period) and it ends May 13, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. ET). I would love it if you could vote every day between now and then but I also realize that’s asking a lot and I should probably be doing something to make it worth it for you (even if that just means making you smile or laugh… at me). The other day I asked you all for ideas on how to make daily reminders fun and this is what you came up with:
- Song and dance numbers
- Fall sneak peek (I feel like I did a bit of that in this blog)
- Rhyming poems
- Involve Seth the Sloth
- Lip sync (for your life)
- Voting memes
- Share an embarrassing moment
- Involve Howard
- Knock knock jokes
- Puns (obviously)
- Cute baby animal pictures
- Promise to keep big girls sizes (done)
- Keep being you (you got it)
- Wear a different product each time
Starting tomorrow, I’m going to work all of these into daily voting reminders. If they make you want to vote then please know how much I appreciate it. If they just give you a chuckle then that’s pretty ok too. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have some ridiculous content to film.
Any song requests for the lip syncs?