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2014: What Worked and What Didn’t

So…

as 2014 draws to a close, it’s time for us to sit down and do a long, hard assessment of what we did right over the course of the last 12 months, as well at what didn’t work out quite as good as we had hoped. You know what they say, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, so here’s how it went this year.

First- the Good Stuff

Our Retail Show Schedule:

We upped our ante this year and signed up for THREE retail shows. We knew up front  that we weren’t going to be publishing a new pattern in time to make it worth our while to attend the Spring Quilt Market. How did we know this? Because the young lady (otherwise known as Baby Z) you see at left made her entrance into our lives on March 2nd and pretty much turned our year upside-down… in a fabulous way of course.

But back to the retail shows
because of our easy-going Spring, we purposely scheduled ourselves a pretty hard-driving 2nd half of the year. We did two AQS shows… in Charlotte in July, and then in Chattanooga in September (both brand new shows), then headed to Houston to finish out our year with the Market/Festival. That’s four major shows in a 12-week period of time. It was tiring and a little scary but also crazy good!

S-P-E-E-D at the Checkout!:

If we learned anything from our first Quilt Festival last Fall, it was that we needed more speed in our checkout lane and since all of our products are barcoded this was a pretty easy fix. A nifty barcode scanner along with software from Square Register was all I needed to turn my iPad into a portable cash register.

Our Zipper & Notions Line:

The performance of our zipper & notions line continues to amaze me! Because here’s the deal…we poo-pooed strongly resisted starting a notions line for at least two years before we finally gave in and introduced our first product, the sew-in invisible magnetic snap in 2011. And amazingly, the sales from zippers & hardware may actually surpass our pattern sales this year. Who knew, right? So since I’m all IN now, we introduced a new zippertape color (beige & white stripe) in all sizes plus a smaller rectangular loop in both nickel and gold!

Improve our Social Media Presence:

In 2012 we made a very public commitment to beef up our social presence in order to make somewhat of a break from a dependance on print advertising and I have to say that since then we have pursued this end with laser focus and this year….

It All Paid OFF!

We started 2014 with 23,175 Facebook followers and as of today I feel so honored to be able to tell you that as of today we have 114,000+!

Newsletter=22,000+, Pinterest=1160+, Blog=1050+,

The obvious benefit is that this increase has allowed us to slash our print ad budget to only 13% of what it was back in 2011 with absolutely no ill effect on our sales and that’s pretty amazing! For that I really owe a true debt of gratitude to SO many of YOU! Thank  you ever so much!

And now… the Stuff that was a Challenge!

Most of you know that I lost my #1 sewing assistant (my sweet buddy, Jeter) during the holiday season of 2013, so our new year began on a bit of a sour note for us. I still miss that guy and I’m not the only one.

Not only that, but the impending birth of my grandaughter in March  meant that my daughter could no longer handle my social media (primarily FaceBook) postings for me. It’s been difficult impossible to replace her in this capacity, since very few people know me well enough to post in such a manner that even my best friends had no idea she was doing this for me. But- fortunately she had taught me well. I credit her for really bringing us up to speed in this area and that really helped when I took over her duties in January.

And…as already mentioned, we didn’t publish a new pattern this Spring for the first time in NINE years and that actually had challenging ramifications of its own. It felt really weird. My rhythm was “off” and this had a negative effect at times because I am a total creature of routine. I was essentially operating without a schedule and at times I didn’t handle it so well. Might as well face it, I am never more focused than when I’m staring down the barrel of a looming deadline and I’m afraid I didn’t always handle this lack of urgency well.

This was never more apparent that during Spring Quilt Market when everyone was gathered in Pittsburgh (one of my favorite places) and we were not. I hated thinking about all the fun going on there without us!  🙁    Another unpleasant side effect was that I noticed our sales languishing a bit around June. To be honest, by then we had gone NINE months without a new product and it was beginning to show. Fortunately we recovered rather quickly when we published the Wrapsody in July, but it caused me enough alarm that I’ll probably try to avoid taking that long a hiatus in the future.

So…there you have it. 

The good, and the not so good from 2014.  But hey, do YOU have any comments, or suggestions for improvement for us?As usual, I’d love to hear what you might have to say!

What do YOU think we did well?

and how do YOU think we still could improve? (remember……..say it nice!) 

************************************************************************And stay tuned for our next post in this end-of-the-year series when we’ll detail a few of our plans and goals for 2015.

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Kat

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