It only seems appropriate to share a little behind the scenes of what's been happening in the studio over the past year. There is no denying that this past year has felt like a little bit of a roller coaster ride. From moments of sheer panic, to in between moments of joy and freedom, followed by nausea and self doubt (That seems to sum it up perfectly for me).
As I'm sure with most people, we have been showing our brave faces on social media and to friends and family, but behind the scenes things have often been quite heavy & stressful at times. I wanted to create an open letter to our customers, in the hopes that our story makes you feel a little less alone in the struggle of running a small business in a global pandemic. This is just our story, I know many people face different challenges, and none of this has been easy for anyone, especially for those who were barely hanging on before this pandemic started.
I have been wanting to write this letter for such a long time, but for some reason I have felt so much fear around speaking openly about our situation. Perhaps it's more a case of pride, and not knowing how to say what has happened, or how we have had to make some drastic changes to our business in order to get through these times. The truth is, this past year has put a tremendous strain on our business and us personally, physically and financially.
At the start of the year, after our much needed break, we were ready to get back into the studio and work to bring things back to where they had been at the start of 2020. We were full of hope, and getting ready to go back, when the news of another lockdown hit. And just like that, it felt like the small little flame we had rekindled to build back our business was blown out. At first we panicked, knowing that realistically we couldn't expect to generate our usual turnover as most of our clients were unable to work. It felt isolating too, being in business as a couple is wonderful, but in times like these it is very stressful as we don’t have another income stream to rely on. After our panic subsided, it was time to get really practical and see how we could get through this. The first step was to come to the realisation that we had to cut everything back down to the core and go back to basics (this included getting rid of any unnecessary personal expenses, going through all of our subscriptions, reducing apps and things that were nice to have but not essential). We also decided to reduce the amount of studio space we have, and are so grateful to the Makers Quarter who were so understanding and helpful. With the reduction in space we have also had to sell off some old stock, as well as some equipment.
The last machine to go is our laser cutter - which has been the most difficult thing to let go of, because it's the machine that got us started on our stationery journey almost 8 years ago. We are finishing up our last round of orders and then will be putting it up for auction. This has not been an easy decision for us, but it's too big to fit into the new studio space, and didn't fit into our long term vision for Molly and Tom.
As some of you may know, last year we decided to stop making our Classic & Heirloom USB & print boxes, as Justin has been having issues with his arm, and was advised to stop sanding & spraying. We have also decided to remove a few products off our website that weren’t selling, as well as some where the materials have become scarce or unavailable due to suppliers closing down and brexit.
We know how this affects you and your business, and please believe me when I say that these decisions have not been easy, but are essential in order to keep us going for many years to come. Almost all of our products have been affected in some way, but now that the schools are going back we are able to prototype and test the replacement products, and we hope you love them as much as we do. We haven't decided on an official launch date for the new products, as we are still making them but we will let you know as soon as we are ready to launch them.
These are the products which have been affected:
- Print Pouches - our supplier of the faux leather has closed down, so we have sourced a new, more sustainable material that we cannot wait to share with you.
- Our Heirloom & Classic Print & USB boxes
- Our Wooden Print & USB boxes
- Chiffon ribbons
- Acrylic Frames
One of the areas that are most important to us is looking at ways we can reduce our impact on the planet and how we can help and uplift others, and while we are not perfect, we are taking small incremental steps forward in working with better materials, using up scraps to reduce waste, and how we can impact the lives of others and share what we have learnt and pay it forward. As a small business this is hard to do, but instead of focusing on growth, we have decided to focus on nourishing ourselves and others.
We chose to focus on things that bring us joy, and working in ways that are going to be better for our mental health & the wellbeing of our family. Slowing down has made us realise how easy it is to fall back into old patterns of working long hours, rushing to get to the post office, and just a general feeling of anxiety & stress. That is not a way we want to run our business. We want to put our clients at the heart of what we do, and in order to be at our best we have to allow ourselves time to rest and reflect.
We are working on some replacement items for the Print & USB boxes, which will mainly be hand covered boxes. These take even more time to make, but I hope you will appreciate the art, love and skill that goes into making these. Finally having typed these words, I can see how this past year has been like a winter season for us, at the beginning it was so difficult to accept. Society is so focused on outward growth and that these seasons in business are not given enough praise, or talked about very much. This season has been a deeper rooting of our values, and the way in which we want to run our business. For a long time I have been saddened by the hurry and hustle of the world, and I don't want to go back to this default state. I want to build space into our day, to feed our creativity and make sure that the cup is always overflowing.
Here is a sneak peak of the inspiration behind our new collection:
Inspired by a sense of rest, reflection & play, long soulful walks, connection to nature, grounding ourselves and finding our way back home.
We hope you will stay with us for this new season of our business, as our clients are always at the heart of what we do. And if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to reach out to us personally. As we head into spring, I can feel a new lightness and optimism brewing in our studio - and we cannot wait to see where this journey takes us.
Chat soon, x Stacey & Justin