I've never been a big believer in New Year's Resolutions, I think they're what someone does to feel like they've created the mindset to just start fresh. Why wait? What does January 1st really symbolize when it comes down to it? I do believe 100% in self-reflection and growth, I think rather than creating a resolution that one should sit down at the end of the year, evaluate what they've learned, what goals they've accomplished and build a realistic plan from that point. This whole post is going to be my self-reflection and a place for me to set my goals for 2019. If I'm honest, I have a ton of goals from 2018 that I'm still working towards for 2019 -- and that's okay. The difference to me between goals and a resolution is that goals are something attainable and something I can continue to work towards - not something I feel is ultimately setting me up for failure.
What did I accomplish in 2018?
I rebuilt my website, I committed to a social media schedule, taught myself how to shoot and edit all my own photos, broke my sales record for Black Friday and so much more. For every great thing that happened though, there's a list of things where I came up short. For example, I did not utilize the blog as much as I had hoped and planned to, I didn't participate in as many craft shows as I thought I would, and most disappointing I didn't stick to my launch schedule the way I intended. I don't want to look at my list of things that I didn't accomplish as failures but instead I want to learn and grow from them and understand why I came up short. I want to dig in real quick to what I learned that did bring me success; the most important thing I've learned as a retail manager is to evaluate both positives and opportunities and that's exactly how I've evaluated my whole year.
#1 Rebuilding My Website
Those that know me well know that I tend to have a ton of ideas -- especially when it comes to design and anything creative. I wanted to put all of my ideas to work and created the most confusing and overwhelming website to start 2018. At first I was in love with it, it was soon after pointed out to me that it was kind of a mess when someone close to me said they couldn't find pieces with ease. I had organized the site the same way I organize my pieces in the studio, by collection and type. A lot of the pieces end up falling into more than one collection and this close friend told me they just weren't sure where to look to find what they wanted with ease. Obviously, I originally thought this method of organization would be shopper friendly, it 100% was not. Also, I was building the site as I went and learning as I was building and it showed (if I had before and after screenshots I would insert them right here). A couple months in I began to start the process to simplify, and that started the experimentation with color schemes, ultimately leading me to the simplest design despite wanting the site to pop. I wanted all my pieces to speak for themselves when I wasn't standing there answering questions, and as much as I wanted a fun bright color scheme it just wouldn't have done what I wanted it to. I learned to utilize my slideshow on my homepage effectively to highlight collections -- instead of driving myself and you insane with an overcrowded homepage. And slowly but surely I've learned to photograph and size my images so everything is the same and doesn't totally stretch out the page. I simplified the navigation and have slowly been adding product tags to let you search easier for the style you want. Is the website perfect? No, but it is 100 times easier for me to manage than it was before and it's way easier to shop.
#2 Committed Social Media Schedule
Every brand's goal is to get as much exposure for free as possible. What's the best way to do that? Social media. Committing to a social media schedule has been a tough one for me personally as in recent years I haven't been as active as I once was. When I started Tea Rose 2 years ago, I didn't put any of my personality into my social media, fully believing that if I did it would be beyond unprofessional. How wrong that thought was. I started to follow brands and influencers that inspired me and realized my biggest asset is me and my personality. About halfway through this year I sat down and worked out a schedule that I knew I could keep to. I focused on actually writing captions that explained why I made or loved something the same way I do across my personal accounts, and the second I did that I started to watch my engagement grow. The best part about this schedule is that I can plan days to months in advance allowing me to live in my experiences and still engage without feeling like it is consuming my life. This schedule also lets me plan my launches by keeping me on track and motivated to get to that finish line.
#3 Learning to Shoot and Edit
Lucky for me, my significant other had a Canon DSLR camera in the closet just collecting dust, when I went to throw it away because he said it was broken I also inquired what about it was broken. He told me the manual zoom function no longer worked and that he'd lost the battery charger but other than that the camera was fine. I instantly said "if I buy a new charger can I keep it?" and he told me sure that if I wanted to use it for Tea Rose the zoom function wouldn't matter given I only take close-ups. So I popped on Amazon and ordered the charger, when it arrived 2 days later I tore into it beyond excited to start shooting. I have minimal photography training from college and started to teach myself everything I could through YouTube videos and a ton of product photography classes. The quality of my images instantly improved over using my iPhone, but I'd never styled a product shoot and had no clue what I was doing. Huge shoutout to Kelsey for spending a day on the beach shooting a ton of my pieces and giving me a hands on look at how to do what I had pictured in my head. I learn best by watching then doing, so watching her shoot was just what I needed to get started. I had copies of Photoshop and Lightroom to start the editing process, and while I had an idea of how to use Photoshop from previous use, I had no clue how to use Lightroom. I could tell you I read about how to use Lightroom to edit my photos perfectly, but it was all trial and error to get the look that I wanted. I'd try things and if I liked it then I would write it down so I'd remember, and that's still how it works for every image. 2018 was the year I learned how to get started with photography for Tea Rose and 2019 will just be a huge expansion on that.
#1 Using My Blog
Looking back at my calendar from 2018 I saw so many times I had written in 'blog' and then didn't fulfill it. At first, I really wanted to beat myself up for this, I had failed but I also realized I spent a good deal of 2018 traveling and when I wasn't on a trip I was at work or out shooting. And I feel like those are excuses, which is true, I just didn't prioritize the blog like I should have. This is the only spot I can give you an in depth look at behind the scenes, and realize now that even if my post is a paragraph it still has a spot here. Better here than super long posts on all of your feeds! The biggest reason I didn't blog as much as I had intended was the fear that no one was going to read it anyway. I also know that's not true at all and I make no promises, but 2019 will definitely see more blog posts.
#2 Craft Show Schedule
In 2018 I participated in 2 craft shows -- AKA not enough! Most of this comes from a huge lack of research into shows on my part, and a huge lack of open weekends. My main source of income at this moment relies on me working on the weekend -- mainly on Sunday when all the craft shows tend to happen. Also being that I'm on the younger end of the spectrum and still new to the New Jersey scene when it comes to being in the loop and having advanced notice is tough. Pleased to say thought that I have already started to research for mid-2019 and should be at more shows. I love the vibe of craft fairs simply because I love getting to talk to all of you about my inspiration behind pieces and the brand, and I love to get instant feedback on pieces too. Shoutout to Amanda for all of her help for the last minute Small Business Saturday show we did! That's a whole other thing too -- between prep, set-up, working, and breakdown so much goes into a one day festival that it can almost be too much for one person to tackle. I've been working on ways to streamline this process to make it less overwhelming and have considered hiring on an event by event basis. Biggest thing for 2019 is fine tuning my displays so I can get over my fear of juried shows and get myself out there!
#3 Product Launches
I had so much planned for 2018 and totally fell short. I had the pieces made but couldn't meet my own deadlines for a ton of reasons, the biggest being I was only planning to about a month out. Learning from that mistake the 2019 calendar is set for the whole year allowing me the ability to plan, upload, and then ultimately roll out all of the pieces. January and February I'll be getting up the pieces left over from 2018 and then moving full steam ahead with new collections and ideas to continue to expand Tea Rose.
2018 taught me that doing all of this alone is the toughest and most rewarding thing I will ever experience. It also taught me the importance for sticking to my calendar and planning way further than I had been . 2018 also taught me that doing this alone is exhausting and that I need to listen to my body when it comes to resting and not continue to overwork myself, and that most things can wait a couple hours for me to take a nap.
So what's coming in 2019? More photoshoots with actual people wearing the pieces (!!), the first official men's launch (its about time), expansion to a completely different direction (I'll be posting about that in the next couple days), and so much more. I'm promising to myself to plan further out and not beat myself up when things don't go my way. I'm promising to take time when I need it to rest and recharge. Tea Rose is my main hustle in my heart, but still just my side hustle in reality and while I desperately want that to change, 2018 taught me that with patience and persistence it will.
Happy New Year to you all and I'll see you in 2019!