I think it’s safe to say that 2017 was our most challenging year yet, in more ways than one. Looking back at everything we managed to accomplish, I’m incredibly proud. For such a small team we met nearly all the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, and also learned a lot of really valuable lessons. In addition to having a much more rigorous, efficient pattern development process, the most important thing I learned this year was to set hard limits about our schedule and my personal workload. I tend to have way too many ideas and not enough time, and I make an enourmous amount of stress for myself when I try to pursue everything rolling around in my head. While the first part of 2017 was super busy, filled with projects and huge changes, the last half of the year was about slowing down, making time for a home life and transitioning our business into a new space. Here’s what we accomplished this year.
2017 was definitely a banner year in terms of pattern releases for us; we managed to create four print patterns I’m super proud of. Ebony is our simplest offering of the year, an easy to stitch up drapey t-shirt or dress that layers well and is super comfortable to wear. This pattern had a slow start but ended up being one of our steadiest sellers once they started cropping up on blogs and Instagram. We’re already on our second reprint!
Next up was our Kalle Shirt & Shirtdress. You guys loved this pattern, and it’s one of my favorite hashtags to look at on Instagram since there are so many beautiful, unique takes on it. After many requests, we also added a sleeve expansion this fall, making Kalle a great wardrobe staple all year round. I’m planning on sewing a light denim version over the holidays since I can never have enough long-sleeved button-ups in the winter.
In the spring, I made the last minute decision to go to print with our Charlie Caftan. Initially, I thought it might be better as a PDF since I wasn’t sure how popular it would be, but I was so wrong. It was our best-seller this year, and it makes my heart swell with unquantifiable joy when I think of all you swanning around like the queens you are while wearing it. I’ve also loved seeing all the cold weather versions of Charlie using wool and velvet, something I still need to try for myself.
We ended the year with our Sasha Trousers, a wardrobe workhorse that makes your bottom half look sleek and pulled together. I love how it rounds out our offerings from the year; one of you commented that we basically released a little capsule wardrobe this season, and while that wasn’t an intentional plan, I’m really happy to see how nicely our four patterns play together.
We also released mid-rise Ginger Jeans to accompany our online course (more on that in a minute) in addition to a full lining for our Kelly Anorak. The Kelly lining ended up being one of the hardest things we did this year, believe it or not. It was challenging to figure out how to design a lining for a coat intentionally designed without one, and in my rush to get it out in time for spring our instructions weren’t as clearly written as they usually are. We quickly fixed everything once we got customer feedback, but I learned a hard lesson about taking the time to do things right the first time.
JEANS-MAKING COURSE & WORKSHOPS
This year I taught eight in-person jean-making workshops in seven cities. I’m not gonna lie; I got pretty burned out from the traveling. I love, love, love teaching but it was a lot of time in airports during such an intense, busy year. It’s why I’m especially happy we released our online jean-making workshop. Even if I can’t physically be in the same room with you to give you pep talks and fitting advice, you can still make the jeans of your dreams from the comfort of your own home. The course includes our mid-rise Ginger Jeans, and I’ve been blown away by all the positive feedback we’ve gotten; if you’re hemming about making jeans, make it a goal for 2018! We have your back with this super in-depth course. Now that we’re settled into our new home, it will make it much easier to film online workshops; They are really fun to make and let me dig into sewing subjects that may be too vast for simple blog posts.
This year also marked a big step up for our business when I hired a graphics team to help refresh our brand identity and create a new online home. This was a stupidly enormous amount of work to get set-up, but I’m soooooo happy we did it. I smile every time I see our beautiful website; it’s so much more functional and easy to use.
Maybe the biggest change this year and the one I’m most excited about is our move to a commercial workspace. I found a great deal on a huge studio in a slightly rundown building, and after a few coats of paint and a lot of Ikea furniture, we are reveling in all the space and sunlight. I can’t believe I get to come to work here every morning; it seems so alive and filled with possibility. We’ll be sharing lots about the new space in 2018!
Of course, 2017 was also the year I bought a home for myself. It’s a small apartment in a great neighborhood and has categorically transformed my life. After years of living in my workspace, I’ve set some really hard limits about my personal time, and have tried to create a space that lets me focus on other interests, like cooking and entertaining, two things I basically stopped doing when the business was getting started. I had a little awakening when I was on vacation this summer that I was going to run myself into the ground if I didn’t slow down, so now I force myself to leave the office every day at 5:30 so I can have a life that is about more than just work (as much as I love the work). I’m so much happier in every way, and feel a renewed sense of energy about the business since it’s not literally in bed with me anymore (I lived in a fortress of boxes for the first half of 2017 and it was definitely starting to have an effect on my mental well-being).
My sewing practice was very all or nothing this year. Depending on where were in our pattern production, I either had absolutely no time or desire to sew, or weeklong stretches where there wasn’t anything super pressing and I could whip up a few things all at once. All told, I blogged twenty-one projects, with many things I didn’t have a chance to document (I’m looking at at least seven garments hanging in our sample closet waiting to get photographed), and there are probably another ten or so I’ve been wearing daily. I would say just under half are my own patterns; this year I made SEVEN! pairs of Ginger Jeans, three or four Ebonies, three Kalles, two Sasha trousers, two Charlie Caftans and two Sophie Swimsuits. I didn’t always feel like I had a lot of time to sew for myself, but since I’m counting at least forty garments I was clearly a lot busier than I realized. You can see all of my me-made projects from this year here.
Phew! I’m getting sleepy just looking at this list and I haven’t even talked about our blog posts for the year! I’ll leave it at that though, for now. I am trying to wrap up everything for the business today; Alex and I are off from now until January 2nd. We won’t be checking email, social media or mailing packages so any print patterns ordered as of now won’t be shipping until the new year. It feels weird to just peace out for a week but we both need to recharge and reset and focus on our friends and families. We wish you the very best holiday season and a creative and exciting new year; we’re so unbelievably grateful for your support and community and look forward to serving you next year and in the years to come. Much love!