2019 In Review and Business Goals for 2020
Posted on January 3, 2020
It has been a year, ya’ll! This week marks my 2nd year as an “official” crochet business, but I took my business even more seriously in 2019. Besides coming a mama (well, end of 2018 technically) to the best babe in the land, I feel like I’ve really been a good mama to my business as well! I’m not one for resolutions or planning out every business detail in advance (only because I’ve done so and it gives me all the panic), but I do look like to take a good look at where I have come from at a year’s end to set new goals for the upcoming year. So here, is my break down of “everything” Bella’s Custom Crochets did in 2019, and some of what I am hoping to accomplish in 2020!
*note: Bella’s Custom Crochets rebranded as Fiber & Fox in March of 2021- I left the business name as it was in this post as to not confuse the overall business timeline!
^^^ the Office anyone? Sorry, couldn’t resist. Drew this in my planner at the beginning of the year and it’s just all too applicable.
If you’d care to watch me ramble on about all of the following, here’s the accompanying video to this post!
***2019 in Review***
I quit my job.
January 2nd, 2019 I quit my full time waitressing job. I never intended for it to be my “career,” and while it was great $$$$ it was absolutely not my passion. After the birth of my daughter in November of 2018 my husband and I agreed it was time to give the stay-at-home mama/boss lady life a try. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to stay home with my two babies: my daughter and my crochet business. While this crochet gig definitely hasn’t replaced my full time income (YET!), I have absolutely no regrets!
I more than doubled my instagram following.
Follower account is not something I use to define my success, but I did go from below 2K to a couple hundred off from 6K in 2019. I’m happy to see my numbers growing and that I get to continue to grow my lil’ @bellas_custom_crochets (mostly) maker community. Thanks for being there!
I started doing collaborations.
While I only had a few in 2019, I was really pleased to be able to collaborate with some indie dyers and yarn companies for yarn support for my designs. I love that #makerssupportingmakers relationship, and being able to work with indie dyers especially gives me so much happiness. But hey, yo Lionbrand, if you wanna sponsor me, I’m cool with that too.
Along with the collaborations, I did my first ever Crochet-Along (CAL) with Jen from Laine and Lotus. You can find the 4 part CAL for the Tidal Fades Shawl DK version here on my blog! (week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4)
I started working with a tech editor.
Game. Changer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I’m no mathematician. While I have all my patterns tested, with usually multiple testers per size, there is only so much unpaid, non-professionals can do (but thank God for testers- I’ve worked with some incredible ones this year and I am so grateful for the support they have provided me!!). Kristine from Ambassador Crochet has really helped me to elevate my pattern writing and design process. She has often gone above and beyond to help me out, and got me out of a major mathy mess on one pattern in particular! I am so grateful to have her talented and mathematical eyes looking over my patterns before they go out into the world!
I published new 8 patterns.
While that may not seem like a lot to some of you pattern machines, for me, that was a good year. Especially with a sleepless, especially needy newborn. I kept her alive and thriving and designed, wrote and published 8 patterns. I’m counting it as a win, you guys.
Also in relation to patterns, my Dandelion Dance Shawl became my first pattern to clear 100 sales, which was super exciting!
Also, side note on patterns, I did test for other makers (some knit, some crochet) 8 times this year as well. I like testing to give back into the community, cause testers are so valuable to me and I want to then do that for someone else! But it’s also hugely helpful to be involved in picking apart and making other designer’s patterns- you can learn so much (DO NOT STEAL. I’M NOT SAYING COPY. JUST NO!) about the general design process, wording, grading, industry standards, trends, and more by making other people’s patterns!
I did 10 shows.
That’s a new record for me, by almost double! 4 local farmer’s markets, 3 Nutmeg Collective markets, 2 solo pop ups and 1 LIVE Facebook sale (that I’m still counting as an event cause its an ordeal to try and sell everything in your possession over facebook LIVE in a neat and tidy way!). Super grateful that my husband (& daughter) came to all but one of them to at least help with hauling things and set up, but typically he stays and baby wrangles and runs checkout for me. I love having them beside me!
I started my mailing list/newsletter.
“Everyone” claims mailing lists are like the #1 way to grow a business. This year I added over 250 subscribers to the “BCC BUZZ” and hoping to see continued growth there in the new year! You can join here!! For the record, I use MailChimp. And while it’s okay, I feel like it’s not the most user friendly thing out there. Maybe I’ll switch. Or probably I’ll just keep complaining and making JoJo help me).
I launched the new website and this blog!
Again, all the credit to my husband for his incredible computer skills for making all of this happen. Since launching in August I’ve been able to stick to my weekly posts, give or take a few holidays, and I’m quite proud of that. Along with posting I’ve tried to put more focus on Pinterest, and I’ve definitely seen some results! I’m so enjoying this blog endeavor and I am have some ideas I’m really excited to implement as 2020 unfolds! (So thanks for being here!)
I launched my YouTube Channel and started a video podcast!
Thank God again for JoJo (seeing a theme here?) and his willingness to pour himself into my business endeavors- he does all my editing and has really gotten into the whole concept! I have really enjoyed not only doing a monthly(ish) podcast, but also putting up videos about my set up and maker process!
I used 330 skeins of yarn.
That’s way more than last year’s 214 skeins, and that’s only new skeins that had tags/ball bands on them. I definitely used up a lot of stash scraps as well. Maybe one year I’ll calculate how many yards I’ve used!
I made roughly 337 items.
Yes. That many. Between inventory for shows, custom orders, designs, and just personal projects, that’s a LOT of crocheting. Although the majority of it got done early in the year when Miss Roo took like 150 naps a day, I’ve since pretty much mastered the art of either holding or baby wearing a small human and making at the same time. NBD…
Now looking ahead…
***Goals for 2020***
Publish at least 10 patterns.
I think this is feasible. I would like to say 12, for one a month, but let’s start with 10 and see how I do, k? Based on Instagram post response and pattern sales, it seems ya’ll really like shawl patterns- which I am super pleased about as shawls are my personal favorite to make and wear! There will be lots of new neckwear designs coming at you in 2020! Currently working on 3 cowl designs and planning for a wrap design in the spring- stay tuned! But I also really want to put more focus on garment design this year. In 2019 I designed my first two garment patterns (the Stigandr Vest and the Manoa Cardi), and I have a tunic length lace vest and a flowy, drapey cardigan in mind for 2020, but I would also really like to conquer my fear of pullovers and just get a better handle on pattern grading math for at least XS-3XL sizing!
I am a big advocate for crocheters using “fancy” yarn too (it’s not just for knitters!!!). I would really like to continue growing my relationship with some indie dyers, not only to be able to use a variety of amazing yarn in my designs, but to use my platform to highlight other maker’s talent as well! I particularly love working with Connecticut makers- hit me up!
Really focus on my branding/my “line”
While personally I want to make all the things, in all the colors, all the time, from a retail perspective that can be really overwhelming to customers. I think this year I had 4 hat designs, 3 neckwear designs, and a few extra small accessories, in a variety of vibrant, saturated colors with some neutrals thrown in. This year I am going to really try to limit my color selections. Instead of having 4 shades of grey to choose from, I’m narrowing it down to one. Instead of having every color of the rainbow and then some, I am going to really be intentional in brand colors and trying to limit everything in my show inventory to those color. (But lets be real, my design process cannot be limited, so prepare for all the colors, always. And of course, #mustardyellowforever).
Do 5-8 shows.
I think in the future we are going to try and lean more heavily on online (blog, youtube, etc) passive income and pattern designing, rather than me prepping like a mad woman all year making 60 of every hat. I absolutely love doing shows. Displaying my hard work and actually interacting with my customers face to face brings me big joy. But also big carpal tunnel is in my future if I keep trying to mass product like a literal machine. So…we shall see.
Monetize this blog.
I don’t think it’s any secret that people make money blogging. A big reason designers include free patterns on a blog is because that drives traffic, and with the addition of ads and affliate links, more traffic equates to more income. As of right now when this post is being written, this blog is making me $0.00 /year. And I would very much like to change that. Everyone starts somewhere and I have been so pleased with this as a starting point. Hoping 2020 brings some big bloggy changes for my bank account! And I will gladly be sharing lots on how to monetize your own blog, once I figure this all out for myself! The main goal of this blog space is for me to create a haven for like minded, fiber-loving makers like yourself, and to encourage you on your own maker journey, whatever phase you may be at!
Monetize my Youtube Channel.
Again, you can make money via Youtube. You need to hit a certain threshold of subscribers and hours watched, and I am hoping that is something I can accomplish in the new year as well! In addition to trying to keep up an at-least-monthly podcast of everything I’ve been up to, vlogs when I attend fiber events, and more helpful how-to process videos, I am also going to start putting out tutorials to accompany some of my patterns! I’m loving the video platform and I am excited to see that blossom in 2020!
Hit 10K on Instagram.
Instagram following definitely doesn’t equate to success and doesn’t necessary convert to sales (cause that algorithm is a mysttterrrry), but there are certain perks that unlock to business accounts when you hit 10,000 follows. So it’s kinda a big deal. As I am typing this post, I’m around 5,550 followers, so I’m think that by next December 10k is feasible? Maybe? I am going to throw it out there as a goal and see what happens!
Launch my online store.
This is another thing the husband is working on- not like add a shopify, like he is determined to BUILD a shop with his computer programming wizardry. I don’t understand how that works, but he built this whole website situation thus far and hasn’t failed me yet so… I’ll keep him.
I’ll be keeping my Etsy and Ravelry as pattern sales platforms, but I also want to be able to sell my pattern designs off my own website. And hopefully we will also be adding a finished items/ready to ship/custom order online store to the website as well.
So that’s my story. If you made it through all that, God bless you.
But really. I am so excited for what the new year- the new DECADE- will bring from me, my family and my business. I’m really looking forward to looking at this post at the end of the year and hopefully marveling at how much further I’ve come on my journey- thanks for being here for it!