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Review of 2022

Here we are again, another year has passed! It has been a year with lots of changes but at the same time there has been a remarkable amount of continuity. The world beyond the garden fence has been even more insane than last year and some aspects have impacted how I went about my business. Despite the rigours of adapting to an ever changing world, not for the better in my opinion, by year end I am 8% up on last year, and am now ranked 64, 375th in the world out of 3.5 million Etsy shops, selling more than 95.4% of Etsy shops.

I started the year as always, cleaning up the crafting areas after the Christmas rush, taking stock and making lists of what raw materials I needed to order in and what items I was running low on. I always do a full inventory and decide on what under-performers to get rid of and assess if there is room for any new ideas within the ranges I already offer. I am very aware that introducing new Stuff is important for the people who shop regularly, and looking at who bought from me, it is clear that keeping things fresh ensured a 60% return of repeat buyers. All new ideas are based on what I know about the folks who have already given forever homes to my treasures. After all it would be crazy to make something far removed from what I already do. In the big tidy up I discontinued some poor performing cards and all of the hand painted door knobs and stones.

New in '22

The biggest new success in '22 were the Moon Gazing Hares filled with hand picked lavender. The first one sold just 2 days after I had first listed them and they have been popular with everyone who gave them a forever home. I never got round to making the bigger versions, about eleven inches tall, which I was going to market as 'sofa buddies'. I'll definitely get round to making these in '23. I also wondered if other colours are needed, like a purple and grey, but as these colours are selling quite equally, it shows that these already appeal to a large array of people, so more choices aren't really necessary. I am going to make an Arctic hare in white with a knitted green scarf held in place with a little red jingle bell, but this is a secret for next Christmas!

Special cards made extra special

This year I noticed that whilst the brown and purple Pagan Love cards had been popular last year, this year it was the blue and green. I upgraded the options for my cards this year by offering to print personal messages inside. This was such a brilliant plan, it has been so successful, one lady even had me make her wedding invitations, very exciting! My cards are designed for that very special occasion, they are not mass produced and so I figured I would make them completely bespoke. It is so humbling to have one of my cards chosen for such special occasions and the love they carry with such beautiful messages typed in a large choice of fonts, makes them truly unique. With the added detail of a wax seal to create a card worth of such wonderful messages.

Summer in the Garden

There was a very quiet spell for about 3 months starting at the end of Spring and when I started to worry a little I checked my statistics. I was most surprised to find I was actually up on last year and the reason was I had been selling a lot of Drafties at the start of the year. One drafty is economically equivalent to 5 birdies or 7-8 cards and so whilst I had been packing less Stuff, the value was far higher. I had actually started to achieve what I had set out to do...making one-off pieces, enjoying the crafting side of it and not spending hours forever packing things for the post. It meant I had the Summer in the garden I had always wanted.

By June I was already stocking up on the little robins as they had been very popular the previous year. I had redesigned the little gifty robins as previously I had bought pewter pins with my name and logo on to pin on their tails, but the company couldn't get the finish right. Instead I printed my details on small, brown rustic card tags, tied them round the robin tails with jute twine.

I have a lot of roses in the garden and I love going out in Summer just as the sun comes up to deadhead and have a mooch about. There is nothing better than an early morning, barefoot walk around the garden with the contrast of the warm sun and cool, fresh

morning shadows! Soft mingling scents of rose, sweet peas and herbs as I brush past bursting flower beds. I collected hundreds of rose heads, pruning them before they dropped their petals. I naturally air dried them and now have big bags of petals and although I have no real use for them, they are nice to add as little potpourri boxes to put in with the Drafties. I also used them to decorate the boxes of another new range for '22, our honey. It has been incredibly popular for Christmas, with virtually our whole stock being posted out and bought by our neighbours. We only sell our surplus honey, some years there is none, other years there are a few jars. It has a very distinctive appley taste and has been very well received. The gift wrapped box is really sweet, with a little dibber and the dried rose petals laid in meadow hay.

Summer Drafts

I also had to restock my Drafties, making them throughout Summer as I had sold so many at the start of the year. There were the rumours of fuel price hikes for Autumn and so I set about making Drafties like crazy. Another great decision as by October they were flying out to new homes. I love making Drafties more than anything else as the colour possibilities are endless!

Lavender Harvest

This year's lavender harvest has been fabulous. As per every year, I waited for phone calls from my Lavender Guardians, little gardens in the local villages where I hand snip my lavender from. I have that many flowers this year that my very dear friend Zoe (hiya Zoe!), let me dry the majority of it in her barn. It was the perfect place to dry, a brick building with a tiled roof. The ventilation was fabulous and it was all perfectly dry within 7 weeks. Our big 20ft shed has always done an OK job but it isn't a patch on Zoe's barn. With such a great harvest I will have enough spare lavender to fill the bodies of the large hares I mentioned earlier. I want these large hares to be really substantial with maybe as much as 50g of lavender in each

New wrapping

A really big lesson learnt this year has been that smartly packed parcels get seriously looked after! Over the years I have had many messages saying how it had been quite a special moment when the postie handed over my parcel. It is conclusive that a parcel clearly packed with love is looked after. With over 1300 parcels I have never had any damages, ever! This year I sometimes used my hand stamped snowflake paper and for anyone buying gifts I sent them photos of inside the box and then gift wrapped it, so it was all ready to give. My careful wrapping is all for a purpose, and although each parcel costs a few pennies to exquisitely pack, the outcome is priceless. A few pence is nothing to part with when you consider the costs of damaged parcels, refunds and replacements, none of which I have had to do, except for the very rare exception if something doesn't arrive due to postal issues.

Festive chaos

This festive season has been an exceptional time. The postal strikes have caused absolute chaos nationwide and yet I have sailed through with no problems. I was extremely busy in mid November, my statistics showed I was up 117% on last year and by December I had quietened down. This suggests that the fabulous folks who bought from me had read all the postal warnings I had placed on every listing where I had stated I could not guarantee delivery for Christmas if posted after the 25th November for international and the 6th December for the UK. It was such a scary time as I read horror stories on social media and I waited for the inevitable. But it never came, other than maybe 3 or 4 people just letting me know their Stuff hadn't arrived yet. Most of my messages were from beautiful souls letting me know their parcel had arrived.

The most memorable part of this year has been the amazing people I have had the great fortune to chat with. I have always wondered whether I have such amazing customers because I make Stuff of an earthly nature, attracting folks of a similar ilk. One of my favourite parts of Etsy are some of the beautiful messages I receive. I like to think there is a special relationship between craftisan and buyer. It isn't just a retail transaction, it is so much more than that. I consider it a contribution to the reinvention of the principles laid out by the Arts and Crafts Movement from the late 1800's, born from the contempt for mass produced items as a result of the industrial revolution. Are we not in the same place today, where mass production and excessive consumption is demanded and expected the next day?

As I come to the end of this blog at the very end of 2022, I reflect on a very successful year. I am also at the end of my five year plan and I am exactly where I wanted to be. I feel incredibly fortunate for all the customers who have helped me to build up a solid foundation based on good quality Stuff, honesty, prompt messaging and a customer service that never keeps you wondering.

Highlights of the year

  • Success of Moon Gazing Hare

  • The beautiful messages from amazing people

  • Huge turnover of Drafties

  • Etsy Star Seller every month

  • Drying rose petals

  • Surviving the postal strikes

  • Fabulous hand stamped snowflake wrapping paper

  • Donated £192 to the registered charity SNORS, Special Needs Older Rabbit Sanctuary

Thank you to everyone who has made this year so successful.

I hope to see you all next year

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1 Kommentar

Love your blog Catherine and your amazing journey over the past 5 years. you are a gift and your customers are so lucky to have found you and be able to receive the most beautiful unique products made with such love and care. Thank you. Xx

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