It's been a hard year for everyone.
YEAR IN REVIEW 2020
I wasn't sure Misc. Goods would make it to the other side. Because of you all, we did.
A summary of 2020's highs and lows
As the final moments of 2019 came to an end and all the confetti of the new year celebrations settled to the ground, we were ready for 2020. We had just finished our best-ever year of revenue and were certain that our good fortune would continue on through out the new year (we were wrong of course).
In 2019 our wholesale orders we're up, our direct sales were up ... but the biggest reason for our success was our partnership with a large tech company. We sourced, designed and produced 3,000 customized gifts for their employees.
Photography courtesy of Chris Behroozian with direction and design by Garrett Prince.
We were floating. And better yet, it looked like we would get to do it again. With new growth and optimism ... we decided to grow our team and brace for new growth.
We did 3 trade shows in February and like every year ... we collected a bunch of orders that would sustain Misc. Goods over the next 5 months.
Going into February and without any idea of the impending Covid impact, we continued our annual tradition of attending trade shows. For those unfamiliar with the term — Trade shows are where we go to sell to retailers across the world. It's a crazy whirlwind of work but a highlight for us both personally and as a business. Before the fallout of this year, wholesale revenue was 75% of our overall business. These trade shows are hugely important.
On this particular trip I found a note from my son stashed in my bag. I didn't see it until after driving 13 hours to New York, not being able to check in to my Airbnb, waiting at a bar until 2am and finally crashing at a friends place before waking up and seting up our booth at the show. I love him.
As you all know ... this was the month when the reality of Covid was mounting. It hadn't impacted us yet, so we went about business as usual. Design is obviously important to me and in many ways product launches are the back bone of the company. So, I was excited to launch our new Underhill Incense and the Terrazzo Incense Holders. Incense was a new category for us and we weren't sure how they would do. But we love our fragrances and I loved the idea of making a holder. We sold through our inventory quickly and have a hard time keeping them stocked since!
It was in March that I also decided to make a dedicated Instagram account for Misc. Goods Co. It wasn't an easy move or decision. Misc. Goods has always been deeply tied to my personal life so it made since to only have one account ... but at this point last year it was getting difficult to know what I should be sharing. It felt wrong to post personal stuff when people were their for design and felt wrong to post business stuff for people that were there for for the personal side. So I made the split.
The meltdown began — Of course you know that the whole United States went into lock down and everyone of our retailers canceled their orders.
On top of that, our biggest client froze their accounts and canceled all the projects we were working on. 85% of our revenue disappeared over night. We were quite literally in trouble.
We didn't panic. It was time to think fast and adapt to the moment. Since the beginning of Misc. Goods we've been overly dependent on our wholesale accounts. The complete fall out of wholesale was our opportunity to reach out ... well ... to you all. Our direct customers.
The problem of course was that I knew that we weren't the only ones struggling and I hated the idea of promoting the company during a global crisis. Alas though ... sales is our livelihood and we needed to make some money and quick. The only solution that seemed fair was to launch what we called the Pay What You Can campaign. This promotion allowed you to pay what you could afford.
In many cases our customers were getting 60% off their orders and even though our margins were tight it helped us move our inventory and boost sales. Some of you all paid more than the regular retail price and that helped offset the discounts we were giving. Our on-line sales doubled this month but it still wasn't enough to off set what we were losing from our wholesale and client cancellation ... But it was enough to spark hope which energized us to push forward.
With that renewed momentum we quickly launched a product that was in high demand. Hand sanitizer.
It was really hard getting this product made. We had the good fortune of finding a local producer and immediately began designing a formula that included our Underhill fragrance.
Finding bottles and caps was very difficult because every supplier across the US was sold out — It's amazing what perseverance and Google can do. We finally found some (that we're priced extremely high) and bought as many as we could. We designed the labels and began filling. After the sanitizer was made we shot a promo video of me and my family for the launch. My brother (and neighbor) is a film maker and came through in a pinch — Helping us get the word out to our customers.
In the end — The sanitizer was expensive to make, which made it difficult to make affordable ... but the demand was there and sales were coming in.
Even with the successes of the last two months we were still having a hard time keeping busy and staying out of the red.
In June we started working with a start up Tequila company to help them with production and sales. The timing was perfect and the client was ideal It gave us good work that we are good at.
In July we went back to the first product that started it all and launched three new playing card colors.
This is the time of year that we normally begin ramping up for the second cycle of trade shows. With Covid spiking across the US and retailers either going out of business or freezing their accounts ... tradeshows moved to a digital only platform. We participated in two. They were not successful.
The reality sunk in that our wholesale accounts wouldn't be coming back any time and this once again made our direct to customer online sales more important. I began designing a new website to help with the sites function and hopefully help us convert more sales.
I kept designing the new website through September while also re-shooting a lot of our old and new products for the new website format.
I got to work with my friend Clay Cook on all the photography and I collected all the textures, props, trinkets and products and we did it all in his Louisville studio.
After almost 300 hours of work, we launched our new website on October 8th with great satisfaction.
The response of the new website has been great. It was at this time that we also ended our Pay What You Can campaign and I of course was concerned that our sales would dip.
As we closed in on the end of the year a couple thing happened at once. 1) We launched our Black Friday sale and had historic sale numbers and 2) Our retailers were resurrected for a while and our wholesale began picking up again.
By the end of the year we still were negative and took on some new debt — Which of course is never ideal. But under the circumstances we we're so thankful to come out intact on the other side.
In retrospect this was a year of building systems to help us manage our cash flow, it was also a year of perseverance, being flexible to change and holding on to our butts.
We know that it was the same for you all and I know much more tragic for some of you. We hope for healing.
We're have our sights set on this year of 2021 and are optimistic about what we can accomplish. Our goal is to design more products, grow sales here and over-seas; doing good every step of the way.
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