Our spring/summer line has launched! It's been a crazy road getting to this point and I'm going to share some of the big learnings over the past couple of months. To say I took on a bit too much would probably be an understatement but now, looking back, I'm pretty darned pleased with everything and I hope you are too.
New line, new shop, new everything
When I decided it was time to re-open (after the longest hiatus ever), I really wanted to do it right. Up until this point, Wooly Doodle had never been anything other than a subsidized hobby and I was just going with the flow and not really keeping track of much (ask my husband how he feels about that one). For anyone who has officially started a small business, you know what's involved. I won't go through all the details but I'm happy to say that Wooly Doodle is now legit. Too legit to quit.
I also felt like it was time to move to another platform. Etsy was good to me but I wasn't overly thrilled with some of the functionality and level of customization and so about a month out, I bit the bullet and started migrating to Shopify. I'm LOVING the new platform but man did I underestimate how much I'd have to learn. I'd like to give a huge shoutout to the Shopify support staff who I pretty much bugged every single day.
Now, for the line itself. I did one 'official' line last year when I first started and since that point it's kind of just been a random mix of items and prints - whatever I saw and liked, I bought (again, ask my husband how he felt about this one). With this re-opening and launch, I've tried to be extremely focused and create a cohesive line of stylish and interchangeable items and I *think* I've achieved that.
At the end of the day, I really wanted to stay true to our modern but playful brand and offer you the same great products that you've come to love but in a more professional and organized fashion.
Now for the learnings...
1. Babies change everything
That's a pretty obvious statement but the big learning for me was re-working the way I work. I'm no stranger to aggressive deadlines and working like crazy towards the launch of something (I do that all the time in my full time job). The big difference this time around is that my time is not my own - no longer can I just focus 100% on something or work as late as I need to. Learning to plan my work during naps really forced me to prioritize what I was working on and be a lot more organized as far as what needed to get done and when I was going to do it - these days I live my life in 90 minute blocks and each one had to count.
2. If you take on too much, expect some f*ck ups
I planned to launch the website a week before the biggest show I've ever done (and the 2nd one ever) mainly because you guys have all been patient enough! I also wanted to run a Brand Rep search because I had so much success the first time around. On top of this, I made the scary decision to bring on some additional help with my sewing which required recruitment, interviewing and training [gulp]. A few people told me I was crazy (which I totally am) but I really wanted to try. I knew that to pull this all off, nothing had to go wrong and the likelihood of that was slim to none.
Sure enough, stuff went wrong.
Two of my fabrics didn't arrive in time and since they were from a new supplier, I pulled them from the site because I want to be able to see and touch them before I take your money (lol). I also had planned to have all my Brand Rep packages out well before the launch so that I'd have a million amazing photos to add to the site but that didn't happen either - I got four of the eight out so that's something! Lastly, expanding the WD team has proven to be more difficult that I expected. I'm extremely picky about the quality of sewing and it's important to me that whoever I have on the team is passionate, skilled and reliable. Finding people who fit this description is not easy and it's consumed a lot of my time. Luckily I found one all star and I'm SO grateful to have Jessica onboard and live in constant fear of her quitting on me because she has really been AMAZING.
So in the grand scheme of things, nothing has been catastrophic and I've forced the anxious side of my personality to adapt and move on. All things considered, I'm pretty proud of what did get done.
3. Don't be a hero - getting help is cool
This is where I really should give a big shoutout to everyone I've bugged over the last couple of months. After being bombarded with newness, I put my stubborn and independent tendencies aside and realized there was far more value in reaching out to get help from others. I've met so great people and fellow shop owners and am constantly amazed at how supportive this network has been - even when some of us are technically competitors. I want to say a huge thank you to Jackie at Mo Green Clothing Co. for walking me through all the ins and outs of her accounting best practices and the scary world of taxation, Melissa at Geema Sews for helping me with compliance and getting my new tags in order, Sabrina at The OVer Company for helping me with the seamstress recruitment process, Erika at Os & Oakes for letting me bounce questions off of her and prepare for future growth, Donna at Bugalugs Handmade for sharing some of her wholesale purchasing secrets and Rachel at Mighty Mocs for being my sounding board for everything life and business. I'm sure there are others I've forgotten and if that's the case I'm blaming it on 'mom brain'.
4. Focus, focus, focus
This one has been the hardest for me. As part of this launch, I really sat down and though about my brand and worked on my overall strategy and business plan. I made decisions on how I want the company to grow and what I will be offering this launch. From there it should have been easy to just move forward and execute but that's easier said than done (at least for me). The distractions were endless. Whether it was other shops launching similar items or launching completely different items that made me second guess my choices - there were many times that my insecurities flared up and made me doubt what I was doing. I also have an extremely short attention span and am distracted by bright, shiny objects and so it was a daily battle to stick to the plan. Looking back, I am glad I took the time define my strategy and guiding principles (sorry for the biz catch phrases) because decision making is now a lot more simple - things either align to the strategy or they don't and I'm able to tune out all the noise and just focus on getting 'er done.
5. You gotta love it
I'm been obnoxiously obsessed with the business over the past couple months and when you're pretty much doing everything yourself, that's the way it needs to be. There is no room for lukewarm feeling of so-so motivation. If you're starting or thinking of starting your own small business - be prepared to pour your heart and soul into it. A few months ago, I really wasn't sure how much I loved it because I hadn't really had a chance to focus on the business between a crappy pregnancy and four months of colic. While it's been stressful and exhausting at times, I feel more engaged that I have since I started maternity leave and I find so much satisfaction in growing this little company. I love this to the point that I'm probably super obnoxious to the people around me and I wouldn't have it any other way.
If you made it to the end of this you're a Wooly Doodle superfan and I love you. Now, I've distracted you long enough - get shopping :).